In three years, Britt Woods accomplished as much as many program managers achieve in an entire career. He built two new programs in Tennessee and Georgia from scratch, making each a top producer, and then turned around a failing program in Kentucky within a short period of time.

What makes this Fifth Third Bank program manager such a phenom? He chalks it up to his management style and people skills. He knows his advisors personally, learning as much as he can about their backgrounds, so he can assign them to the right territories. "If you have someone who... comes from a blue-collar background, you need to make sure they're in a blue-collar market," he says.

When he took over the firm's struggling Kentucky practice, he met individually with each of the 17 advisors and realized that the entire territory had to be restructured. "The right people weren't in the right territories," he recalled. One of them was close to losing his job. He wasn't meeting requirements, but Wood refused to give up on him because he had been a top producer at another firm. The problem? His territory was a "complete 180 of where he should be." The advisor served a very affluent territory, which was at odds with his rural upbringing. Once he was reassigned to a "territory with people like him," the advisor's sales went up dramatically, Woods said. "People buy from people they like and trust and have something in common with."

Building a successful program requires more than the right matches, however. It's crucial to develop strong relationships with the retail bank. After all, "without that sign outside, we're not in business," Woods said.

Woods works to make sure the retail bank looks at him as its "No. 1 partner." He does this, in part, by supporting activities and events that are not part of his business. Sales training classes he conducts do more than merely build rapport with bank staff. "My advisors will not come to me and say they're not getting referrals because I'm out there doing referral training for bank employees," Woods said.

Woods coaches his reps to cross-sell banking products. "You can't have an investment program that just wants referrals from the bank and doesn't reciprocate referrals back to the bank," he said.

 

Bank: Fifth Third Bank
TPM: none
Location: Nashville, Tenn.
FAs manager oversees (as of 12/31/12): 28
LBEs manager oversees (as of 12/31/12): 43
Team production 2012: $9.6 million
Team production 2011: $3.2 million
Team AUM (12/2012): $640 million
Team AUM (12/2011): $186.6 million
Avg. production per rep: $328,000
Years at the bank: 3
Years in the industry: 10
Age of program: not available
Sample of products: Unit investment trusts, Insurance, Mutual funds
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? No

Related: The Top 20 Program Managers