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For this skydiving Ameriprise branch manager, risk tolerance is an asset

Doubling revenue within three years can mean taking risks — but that doesn't faze Christopher D. Davidson, a man who jumps out of perfectly good airplanes just for fun.

Davidson, who works out of Ameriprise Financial’s office in Clearwater, Florida, and is one of this year’s Top 10 branch managers, began his career in the industry with Ameriprise. Ten years later, he's still there. "First, I built my own practice in Tampa," says the University of South Florida graduate, "and I also did some coaching at another branch, as an insurance specialist. When there was an opening for a manager at our Clearwater branch in 2013, I made the move."

Combined with this recreational skydiver's willingness to take risks, the care that Davidson exhibits for others, including his colleagues and his family, makes him an elite leader. He attributes the recent growth at his branch, which has $780 million in assets under management, to "putting clients first," the Ameriprise platform and the local talent pool from which he hires. In addition, Davidson exerts a substantial personal effort to support the 19 advisers he manages.

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"I believe in giving advisers considerable autonomy," Davidson says. "They can build their practice the way they want it to grow."

For example, one is entirely fee-based. Davidson says this adviser finds more marketing support here than at his old firm, a wirehouse.

Another adviser, who has a more diverse compensation structure, makes more use of social media, the website and turnkey events, according to Davidson. "Both have increased their revenues since coming here," he says.

By "turnkey events," Davidson refers to monthly gatherings offered throughout the year. The branch handles the logistics for these events, including planning, executing and managing compliance details. "The advisers don't have to worry about anything," he says. "They just get to spend worthwhile time with the clients and prospects they invite."

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Turnkey events are designed to avoid nonproductive time. Besides market updates and guest speakers, the branch plans six entertainment events a year, including a PGA golf tournament or Tampa Bay Rays baseball game.

Davidson's responsibilities also run to recruiting, with an eye toward transition planning for his existing advisers.

He says the average adviser age in his area is over 50, with many over 60. "At that mature stage, they're not going to want to work forever," he says. "So we're looking for younger advisers who can grow to the point where they'll take over from the older advisers."

That's not to say that age is the only factor in hiring new team members.

"I'm in charge of sourcing new hires locally," says Davidson. "If a team's book of business is 95% bonds, non-discretionary, an adviser with a discretionary equities practice might not be a good fit."

This bio originally ran as part package of profiles about On Wall Street's top 10 branch managers: A 'hire' authority for advisers and the industry

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