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What this $5.2M advisor looks for in clients

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UBS advisor William Wilson ranked No. 4 on this year’s Top 40 Under 40. What’s driving his success? Choosing clients with a certain trait: They’re fundamentally good people at heart, he says.

“I try to only work with good people, which engenders respect and genuine concern for their well-being. It's easy to be aligned with your clients when you respect and love them,” Wilson says.

It’s advice Wilson also offers newcomers to the profession. “Life is short and money is a means — what makes it worth living are the relationships,” he says.

On Wall Street interviewed Wilson and other advisors who led the Top 40 Under 40 about their motivations and challenges, and what makes their practices unique.

Read on to learn more about Wilson says was his biggest work accomplishment in 2018 and look for interviews with other advisors listed on the Top 40 Under 40.

Finalists for the list were to be no older than 39 as of Dec. 31, 2018. They also had to be registered with a firm in the employee channel. Nominees’ information was confirmed with their employers. Production totals were used to determine the rankings. Production and AUM figures are as of Sept. 30, 2018.

1. How would you describe your practice?

Personal, comprehensive, but flexible. At the center of everything is the relationship, of course. What people want from an advisor is unique, so we are flexible in our approach. We don't fit people into our model or way of doing things. We consider their personality and wants, and deliver a robust, comprehensive service model within that context.

2. What was your biggest work accomplishment in 2018, and was there something that nearly kept you from achieving it?

Each year we try and accomplish a major task in the financial lives of our clients. We might do a deep dive into a client's trust and estate planning, or focus on next-generation engagement and education. Last year, and following two years of natural (fire) disasters in California, we reviewed and assessed clients' property and casualty coverages.

3. What was your biggest personal accomplishment in 2018?

I got back into the habit of reading more on my commute. Staring at your monitors all day and then doing so on your phone while commuting is not healthy. Relatedly, deactivating a social media account was also good for me.

4. Describe the best 15 minutes of your work week.

When I learn something new.

I meet a bunch of smart people in my job — whether it's my client who's translated brilliance into financial success, or luminaries from the field of economics and finance. Speaking with them helps me to discover better ways to explain ideas or concepts.

The advisors at the top of the ranking generated more than $59 million in combined annual revenue.
February 4

5. What’s the toughest part of your job?

It's a 24/7 job. Even if you're not responding to emails at 2 a.m. on a Thursday, the phone is on, you see emails come in, you think about why a client is asking certain things, and there's this low level of anxiety that is constant. Is the client happy, could I do more, am I delivering value?

6. What makes you stand out as an advisor?

I'm realistic about what I do. I'm helping really wealthy people continue to do the things that made them successful by managing their financial lives. Their pursuits are either good for the world, neutral or bad. So I try to only work with good people, which engenders respect and genuine concern for their well-being. It's easy to be aligned with your clients when you respect and love them.

7. What do you think people often misunderstand about the work advisors do?

People overestimate our ability to invest money and underestimate our ability to prevent you from making big mistakes with that money. We outsource much of the former, and deliver our value with the latter.

8. If you could get Americans to change one financial habit this year, what would it be?

Stop them from looking at the markets so much. Especially the Dow Jones, which because it's in 25-thousands, means that a 250-ish point movement isn't as big of a deal as it was five, 10, or 15 years ago. It doesn't matter what the market did today. The only question you need to know the answer to: Is there any scenario in which I would be forced to sell?

9. What advice do you give to new FAs?

Only work with good people. Life is short and money is a means — what makes it worth living are the relationships.

10. What trends are you watching in 2019?

The battle between pathos and ethos, feelings and reason, and how that translates into economic behavior, investing and politics. December 2018 (Q4 2018 as a whole) was one of the most emotional and unfounded risk-off events that I can remember. Political populism is a short-term risk to this old bull market and democratic institutions.

11. What technology can you not live without?

Twitter (personal account). Not to tweet, but as a news feed.

12. Who is your personal hero?

Stephen F. McCashin.

13. What is your morning beverage of choice?

8-ounce quad Americano.

14. What goal, professional or personal, do you most want to achieve in 2019?

To be better than I was in 2018.

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