Allen Stanford's financial empire is in chaos after the SEC charged that he and his partners were perpetrating a "massive" fraud, but only four months ago things appeared much sunnier, at least in a glowing Forbes profile that described his investment strategy as "sure and steady."
The profile, "Crazy for Cricket," was part of the Forbes 400 ranking of the richest Americans (Stanford was #205). It outlines his goal of competing within five years with the likes of UBS and Wachovia -- although to be fair, the former company has had its own problems and Stanford managed to outlast the latter.
An exodus of wealth advisers is already under way, says Stanford, as writedowns and layoffs mount at those firms. In a single week in August, he says, his new Richmond, Va. office hired ex-UBS employees with clients representing $1 billion in assets. "There are a lot of deals to be made in financial services--banks, brokerages, trusts," he says. Another industry he's eyeing is desalination plants in developing countries like China: "We're very bullish on making a lot of money on water in the next 20 years."
The article also has some colorful details on Stanford Financial employee requirements -- all were required to "wear a golden Stanford eagle pin at all times" -- and Stanford's religious beliefs:
Then there's the rumor that Stanford carries around a vial of blood drawn from a Catholic priest with stigmata--Christ-like wounds. Not quite true. But one night in 1993 a friend called him up and asked if he could borrow a plane to fly an injured priest to New York for medical treatment. According to Stanford, the priest had scars on his hands and feet and oil gushing from his wounds. He remembers touching his head to the priest's and experiencing a "life-changing" surge that strengthened his faith in God. The priest survived, but Stanford has lost touch with him.