Every year when On Wall Street sets out to identify the top branch managers in the wealth management industry, we always learn new lessons about what it takes to get to the top.

The leaders who landed on the Top 10 Branch Managers list, co-sponsored by New York Life/MainStay Investments, have all faced some kind of adversity before reaching the success they now hold in their current positions. Those challenges forced them to persevere, like Joseph DeFalco of Ameriprise, who built his once-dwindling office back up after he was handed the keys. It has forced them to get creative, like Jeff Dobyns of Southwestern Investment Group/Raymond James did when he called up the popular financial guru Dave Ramsey's show, which turned into an everflowing source of referrals. And it has challenged them to get even more competitive, as Rick Folmar of Wells Fargo Advisors did when he was ranked number two in his firm for recruiting. Was Folmar eventually able to nab the top slot in the Wells Fargo ranking?

Leadership was also what helped bring U.S. Trust, a private bank dating back to 1853, through a large-scale merger and the financial crisis. Keith Banks, who took the helm as president of U.S. Trust in late 2008, put the firm's employees on an ambitious plan starting in 2009. Now more than three years later, the firm is looking at another goal-growth. "We just feel really good about where we are right now and where we want to go," Banks told us.

As always, we strive to bring you more information on how you can best lead your practice, with stories like "Retirement Planning Missteps" on what clients both young and old need from their advisors, and strategies for getting the best out of your team in "Ways to Keep Employees Engaged." And be sure to check out more on the leadership theme from this month's issue, including outtakes from the interviews with the top branch managers.

What leadership lessons have defined your wealth management career? Weigh in on our LinkedIn group or discussion boards (onwallstreet.com/ forums).

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