This profile appeared earlier this year as part of On Wall Street's Top 40 Under 40. All details are as of Sept. 31, 2016. To see who else made the top 10, please click here.
For Walter J.R. Gondeck, an affinity for hard work started as early as the second grade.
"I earned my first paycheck from a paper route," Gondeck, who ranked no. 2 with $7.1 million in production on On Wall Street’s Top 40 Under 40, remembers. "It got me grounded and working, and in high school I actually spent three years working on a farm."
He didn't grow up wanting to be an advisor, but Gondeck's industriousness helped him excel academically and he was able to rise at a swift pace. The Wisconsin native headed to Marquette University to pursue a degree in engineering at first, eventually shifting his focus to finance. Eager to work in the field, Gondeck graduated early and an IT temp job got him through the door at Morgan Stanley.
Gondeck joined the training program and ended up working under the wing of his now-partner and mentor Gene Lerner.
"I probably spent the first three years in the business not opening my mouth with clients and just learning from him," Gondeck says. He jokes he "got his PhD" under his mentor, who actually got his under Milton Friedman years ago.
Gondeck is now a partner of the same Deerfield, Illinois-based team. Now with HighTower, the Lerner Group has shifted its focus away from stock picking to wealth planning. He attributes his success not only to working with his mentor, but also helping put together the 13-person team he works with today.
"I don't think anyone can do it all," Gondeck says. "I think my success is a testament to a great mentor and putting together a good team — and at the end of the day, having great clients."
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