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A key trend this Top 40 advisor is watching in 2019

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Merrill Lynch advisor Kevin Bruegge, No. 10 on the Top 40 Under 40 ranking, chalks up his success to solid teammates and a simple formula: “Good old-fashioned hard work and a genuine care for the families I serve.”

Bruegge, who oversaw more than $903 million last year, shared these and other details about his work habits and accomplishments with On Wall Street, which is taking a deep dive with the advisors who rose to the upper echelon of the Top 40 Under 40. These elite advisors provided an insider’s look at their motivations and challenges, as well as the wealth management trends they’re currently keeping tabs on.

Bruegge’s team spends a considerable part of its time assisting business owner clients monetize their most valuable asset, he says. Keeping a thumb on the pulse of such deals is “an important and timely indicator for our clients and a broader indication of market sentiment,” he says.

Read on to learn more about Bruegge’s approach to wealth management and look for more interviews with Top 40 advisors.

Finalists for the Top 40 Under 40 were to be no older than 39 as of Dec. 31, 2018. They also had to be registered with a firm in the employee channel. Nominees’ information was confirmed with their employers. Production totals were used to determine the rankings. Production and AUM figures are as of Sept. 30, 2018.

How would you describe your practice?

My partners and I run a 23-person team in Cincinnati where we specialize in serving ultrahigh-net-worth families with concentrated wealth generated from public or private business interests. Our team provides outsourced family office services in which we serve as the architect, engineer and financial concierge advising and coordinating all elements of our clients’ financial lives.

What was your biggest work accomplishment in 2018, and was there something that nearly kept you from achieving it?

Five years ago my partners and I established a detailed strategic plan centered on upgrading and adding to our services. We knew we needed to expand our talent, resources and expertise. Over this period we increased our team members by 50%. And I am proud to say that in July 2018 — six months ahead of schedule — we reached our goal and doubled our business.

What was your biggest personal accomplishment in 2018?

I am a board member of the local chapter of the Salvation Army. The organization has an aging demographic on its local board and among its key supporters. Two years ago I and a fellow board member were asked to create a Young Professional Board. After two years of targeted recruitment, mentoring and structuring I am proud to say the group we helped found just received approval from the national Salvation Army.

Describe the best 15 minutes of your work week.

I usually get into the office between 6 and 6:30 a.m. I love this time of the day, because it is quiet, with no distractions. I tend to get some of my best work and thought accomplished before 8 a.m.

The advisors at the top of the ranking generated more than $59 million in combined annual revenue.
February 4

What’s the toughest part of your job?

I love what I do, and because of this I have a very hard time unplugging. With constant access to research, email on my phone and remote access, I find that I am always somehow connected. The job becomes part of you and is difficult to turn off.

What makes you stand out as an advisor?

Good old-fashioned hard work and a genuine care for the families I serve. Beyond that I am incredibly blessed to be part of a fantastic team of people, many of whom have worked together for decades, and all that make me look much better than I am!

What do you think people often misunderstand about the work advisors do?

I think most do not understand the full breadth of what we provide to our clients. We get to know our clients as much as possible and gain a full understanding of their situation. Thus while sound investing is a must, there are so many other elements of our clients’ lives that we advise on, whether it be business succession planning, multigenerational wealth transfer, philanthropy, family communication and education.

If you could get Americans to change one financial habit this year, what would it be?

Patience. We live in a 24/7 news cycle that creates constant noise and distraction. Too many investors become frozen by this and make short-term decisions with their long-term money. This can be very destructive.

What advice do you give to new FAs?

While it feels like a sprint, remember that your career is a marathon, and your reputation is your most important asset. Treat every person and interaction with this in mind, as you never know what (or who) may resurface in the future. Also when you have the opportunity, pay it forward.

What trends are you watching in 2019?

A significant part of our practice is helping our private business owner clients monetize their most valuable asset. Given the environment we have today, we have seen activity pick up substantially. We watch this trend closely, as an important and timely indicator for our clients, and a broader indication of market sentiment.

What technology can you not live without?

My iPhone.

Who is your personal hero?

Definitely my parents. I was blessed to have two terrific parents, who taught me the importance of faith, hard work and humility, as well as being thankful and sharing the blessings we are given.

What is your morning beverage of choice?

Decaf coffee, black and as dark of a roast as possible.

What goal, professional or personal, do you most want to achieve in 2019?

I enjoy running, but have never committed myself to train for a full marathon. I always make excuses. I would like 2019 to be the year!

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