This profile appeared earlier this year as part of On Wall Street's Top 40 Under 40. All details are as of Sept. 31, 2017. To see who else made the top 10, please click here.
New York-based planner Bob White is no stranger to hearing about monumental changes in his clients' lives. He works with multigenerational families and finds that keeping close tabs on their stories pays off: His team's business is almost entirely referral-based.
"We always try to understand the families we're working with. Is there a particular relative that we don't know?" says White, who ranked No. 3 on On Wall Street's Top 40 Under 40 with $5.76 million in production. "That's how this business is growing — by building on existing clientele and having them express their delight [about working with us] to people that trust them. That trust just extends to me and the team."
White, who started his career at UBS before transitioning with his team to HighTower in 2010, recalls one instance where he became part of a client's story in a very different way. A distressed client called. Her husband had left her and her children without notice, and she was not financially savvy and realized it was time to learn.
"I talked to her a lot… and we basically restructured her finances," White says. The conversations often went beyond the numbers. Many were therapeutic, with White helping her "talk things through and saying that things could work out," he says.
After some time went by, White noticed something brighter in his client's demeanor.
"Instead of being anxious and worried, she started smiling a little bit more. She was making more optimistic, forward-looking statements about what she wanted to do, and travel and how her children were doing better in school and had become adjusted to everything," White says.
Eighteen months later, White got a happy call — his client had gotten engaged. "I asked her when the date was,'" White says. "She said they were going to make it a very small wedding."
After she mentioned the courthouse, White mentioned he was ordained. "I said 'well, if you don't want it to be a big deal, why don't you and your fiancée come to the office and I can sign the papers for you? She chuckled and said 'Hold on, I'm gonna call you back.'"
She invited White to lunch, and a few weeks later the plan was for the couple to get married on New Year's Day at Grand Central Station. White helped them find a quiet spot to begin the nuptials.
"She and her fiancé were gazing into each other's' eyes. It was adorable. As I'm looking around, I noticed a bit of a crowd was building," he says. "I started speaking a little louder so people could hear. At the 'you may kiss the bride' part of the ceremony, it erupted into applause," White says. "There were probably 300 people watching. [The couple] had no idea because they were just looking at each other."
While he notes that stories exactly like these aren't necessarily common, White says it emphasizes the reasons he works as a planner.
"You want to know how we affect people? I saw this woman on probably one of her darkest days, a very low point, and [helped her through] to one of the highest points in her life," he says. "That's the fun part about this job. It's really about making that personal connection with people, making a difference and making a change."