A decade ago Stephens Inc. was perhaps the nation's premier regional investment banking firm. These days it is struggling to find its place in a radically altered financial services universe.

Since 1987 Stephens has slipped from 15th-largest in its business to the 80th spot, according to the Securities Industry Association. Then, it had $419 million of capital and ranked ahead of Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co. Now, with $110 million, it sits behind Morgan Keegan & Co.

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