Among investment bankers, Sterne Agee has long been known more for research than for dealmaking. But that may soon change. It has been aggressively building out its stable of community banking M&A advisors over the past year, taking advantage of an opening created by the recent merger of two heavyweight rivals, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods and Stifel Nicolaus.

Daryle DiLascia came over to Sterne Agee from KBW in late 2012 to lead its depository institutions group. Michael Barry joined from Stifel Nicolaus several months later to lead the group's bank M&A group. Overall, Sterne Agee has built the team to 23 bankers from eight in just over a year, poaching more than a few bankers from its recently merged rivals in the process.

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