No: 2: Steven Prediletto

AUM: $3.63 billion

Firm: Merrill Lynch

Location: Atlanta

Age: 36

Note: This profile is part of a special series devoted to On Wall Street’s Top 40 Under 40 ranking for 2012. Every day we take a look at an advisor who made the list to find out the secrets of their success.

Steven Prediletto says he was first impressed by the financial advisory industry from observing his aunt, also an advisor, when he would spend his summers visiting New York while he was growing up in the 1980s.

"Looking back, she's a pioneer for being in the business 25 years ago as a successful female. I never realized it when I was growing up, but now I do." Prediletto says. "She was an inspiration, smart, personable, funny, and I just thought it would be a cool career."

That led Prediletto to intern at several firms while he was in college, from Paine Webber to Prudential and finally Merrill Lynch in Florida. It was that final stint that led to a job offer the day after he graduated. That position led to a fateful business trip to Atlanta that inspired Prediletto to move. It was on that trip that Prediletto met a fellow Merrill Lynch advisor who told him: ""Move your business here. It's boom town,'" he remembers. "It took me a couple of minutes to say okay."

He joined that team as a junior advisor, and then 2002 brought a game-changing event: that advisor and another advisor outside of the team landed one of the largest home improvement retailers in the country as a client. They joined forces to form a team, which today includes 13 equity partners.

Those equity partners also include Erik Bjerke, who is number one on this year's list; Chad Pigg, who lands the number three slot; and Bradley Cull, who is number six. This is Prediletto's second time on On Wall Street's Top 40 list. The team has more than $100 billion under management mostly from the large mega cap companies it serves. The team is also building a small mid cap-focused team.

For Prediletto, who focuses on CEOs and CFOs, that means that every day is different. It could include conference calls with C-suite executives at a major beverage company to talk about their individual stock plans, planning with an executive to unwind his or her stock position over an extended period of time or doing a presentation on stock option analysis. The team emphasizes providing the same level of service from the CEO to the janitor of a company, Prediletto says.

And working closely with those corporations often leads to developing strong relationships with individual clients and their families. Prediletto currently works with about 80 families. "We start from a consultative standpoint with an individual, a family, and you build that trust over time, and those are really strong relationships," he says. "We don't lose a lot of clients around here."

The team retains clients by assigning two senior partners to each relationship, as well as a lead banker for all of their banking needs, an investment analyst who keeps them abreast of the latest research, a portfolio manager and an estate and insurance specialist and a client associate who directs their inquiries to the right team member. "It's just being proactive and persistent, defining client or prospect needs early on, and really doing everything it takes to make that person feel loved and cared about, that someone is looking out for their best interest," Prediletto says.

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