Bank Investment Consultant is reaching out to the million-dollar producers from our most recent BIC Top 50 and Next 50 lists to solicit their advice on how they achieved their success.

Each month we will showcase a few of the responses, first online and then in print. The first one here is our third and last one from the upcoming issue. The other two, which we've already showcased, are here too.

We asked two questions: 1) Tell us the biggest challenge you’ve faced in recent years and how you met that challenge; and 2) Tell us one of the mistakes you made as a younger advisor, and what advice you would give young advisors today to avoid such a mistake.

Doug Leonzi

National Penn Bank/Cetera Financial

Challenge: Finding time to effectively manage a book of business and grow is what was, and to some extent still is, the most challenging. I feel I have met that challenge by learning to delegate and trust others to assist me. I utilize two full-time administrators and have an associate broker who works certain accounts in my book. I run my practice like a board of directors. I’m the lead, but everyone gets a chance to weigh in and tell me what tasks are suited to their strengths and interests.

Mistake from early days:  Being afraid to invest in “my own business.” Once you get to the point where you feel you are taking the next step, start the process to bring in additional help to get you there.

Brett Everhart

Addison Avenue Investments/Raymond James

Biggest challenge you’ve faced in recent years and how you met that challenge: Many aspects of our business we have no control over, such as market volatility. Always being there for your clients during challenging times and offering defensive strategies shows a sign of a courageous leader. As one example, assume we are looking at a client’s portfolio at a time when interest rates are showing signs of increasing. We would proactively rebalance the fixed-income portion to short duration, senior floating-rate and high-yield positions, which typically can fare better during a period of rising rates.

Mistake from early days: One mistake was offering just one solution, which creates problems. Although you may be an expert on that strategy it will limit your flexibility. Make an effort to take a broader approach to clients. Say a client has left their job and are nearing retirement. Their risk profile is shifting from moderate to conservative. Consider setting up three different accounts. A conservative allocation may have a guaranteed annuity utilizing a lifetime income rider; another may focus on fixed-income using actively managed mutual funds; and another may have a balanced equity exposure using funds and ETFs. Be open-minded to a variety of different investment solutions and obtain a respected designation like the CFP.

Kevin McDermott            

Citadel Federal Credit Union/CUSO Financial

Biggest challenge you’ve faced in recent years and how you met that challenge: The biggest challenge is that the market is doing so well. People have short memories and clients are thinking they can manage their investments themselves. In my reviews with clients I am reminding them that the market is up 190% from the bottom and that a diversified portfolio that is being monitored and rebalanced is most prudent right now. I require a minimum of one review each year, and most clients are on a twice-a-year schedule. I also have monthly and quarterly correspondence that I send them in addition to timely informational pieces in between (i.e. Ukrainian crisis, Fed news).

Mistake from early days: As a young advisor I tried to manage the investments and manage my client relationships. No one can do both and spend the time necessary to build deep, consultative relationships with clients. But outsourcing the money management and going to fee-based relationships has allowed me to spend my time working with my clients and their families doing advanced planning. These are the most rewarding relationships. But I still need my clients to know that I have a thorough understanding of how their account is being managed. Having conversations with my clients about their goals and dreams rather than whether or not they are beating the indices has completely changed the conversation. My clients don’t view me as a commodity but rather an integral part of their family’s future.

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