• Branch Manager
  • Ameriprise              
  • San Diego, Calif.
  • Number of Advisors: 25
  • Branch AUM: $750 million

As an advisor in San Diego in the early 2000s, Joseph DeFalco's business was doing well. He had built a strong client base, but the office itself was in trouble. Turnover in management had reduced headcount so that by his sixth year the branch consisted of just him and one other advisor. The office was about to be closed in 2006 when they handed DeFalco the keys.

"Now we look back and laugh at it, but it definitely wasn't easy," he says.

The turmoil of 2008 left many advisors looking for new opportunities, according to DeFalco. He has brought on 28 recruits since 2007, although he admits that it took three years' of convincing for some advisors to come on board.

And not having a large branch to run meant that he could spend time assuring those advisors that he was the one they should rely on to help them develop. He has longstanding relationships with each advisor and his or her family. "It makes those difficult situations easier," he says. "The more they know about you, the more they know where you're coming from."

DeFalco sees his role as helping his advisors to jumpstart their businesses, including through practice acquisitions. He is always on the hunt for advisors who may be retiring and looking to sell their book of business.

"That's a huge value I can add to an advisor's business," he says. "It can really be a game changer for them to take their business and practically double it."

DeFalco also works hard to stay in the trenches alongside his team. He co-manages about $75 million in assets to keep abreast of client concerns and regularly engages them on new projects. When five members of his team mentioned they were interested in earning their CFP designation, he decided to take the test with them, and they stayed late studying for nine months.

"If I think it's something that they want to invest time in, they know I'm right alongside," DeFalco says. "That really builds credibility with them."

ROLE MODEL: His father, a small business owner. “The one thing I learned from him is that no job is too small. If you want something done, sometimes you just do it yourself,” DeFalco says.

MANTRA: “It’s about why you do things as opposed to how--what really drives people.”

FIRST JOB: Intern with Merrill Lynch

HOMETOWN: Walnut Creek, Calif.


HOBBIES: Cooking, especially Italian dishes

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