<p>No. 30: Peter Strope</p>
Location: Pittsburg, PA
Production: $3.017 million
AUM: $469.81 million
Peter Strope freely admits that he didnt know a stock from a bond for the first two decades of his life. A nursing student, he made his first equity purchase shortly after graduation on a rumor that a $2 stock was about to go to $10. Within three days, that company filed for bankruptcy, and 22-year-old Strope had lost his savings.
It was the best $500 I ever lost, he recalls, because the process of buying the stock put him in touch with his local PaineWebber office, which happened to be hiring. After completing PaineWebbers training program, and later partnering with an experienced advisor, Strope found he had a talent for expanding relationships with relatively small clients. Within that first partnership, for example, he helped to more than double assets under management and more than quadruple revenues.
Now, Strope is focused on growing his business through acquisition. I see other advisors who are struggling but dont have a process for growing their businesses. They dont ask the right questions or track the right metrics, he observes. These are things I have a process for. He has completed four acquisitions (often retaining the primary advisor), with a goal of tucking in two or three more before he retires. His team currently has AUM of $750m.
Expanding existing relationships is still important, of course. One of Stropes regular requests to clients is the chance to review their estate planning documents. In most cases, that turns up plenty of follow-up items, and cements the clients trust in him. Many financial advisors take it for granted that a $10 million client has their estate plan in order, says Strope,but based on what Ive seen, I dont buy that anymore.
<p>No. 28 tie: Eric Snyder</p>
Firm: Merrill Lynch
Location: New York, NY
Production: $3.0190 million
AUM: $1.16 billion
From the outset of his career with Merrill Lynch, Eric Snyder seized on the value of the team practice.
When Snyder and his old Penn State fraternity brother Charles Balducci (tied for #28 on this year's list) finished Merrill's training program, they were advised to put in their time working as sole practitioners to build up a business before they launched a team practice. They declined. Now, with a large and growing base of ultra-high net worth clients, it seems safe to say they made the right call.
"We decided to go against our management's advice and it was one of the better decisions we made," Snyder says.
In the early years, Snyder and Balducci were focused on corporate executives with highly concentrated stock positions. With no book of business or family network, they began by cold callin, and quickly devised a strategy of immersing themselves in the intricacies of prospects' pension and 401k plans to help overcome objections to their youth.
"When we got into the business we were pretty young. We were 22. Because we were so young -- we looked young and we were young -- we had to become the experts in a particular niche market," Snyder says. "We became the de facto resident experts."
The practice has diversified considerably in recent years, broadening its base of clients as the staff has grown, roughly doubling in size to 13 over the last five years. Snyder says he is looking to hire more people over the next few months.
"What we see in the future as a trend is teams forming and teams getting larger," Snyder says. "It is too difficult today for the sole practitioner to do everything for a client."