The average production figure for an advisor working for one of our top-20 program managers logs in at $563,494. That's an estimate for 2011, but still higher than last year's $526,465 and slightly lower than 2009's $565,256.

(Check out A Closer Look; The Top 20 Bank Program Managers)

That's just one tidbit from our annual ranking of top program managers. Bank Investment Consultant magazine, along with New York Life/Mainstay Investments, is pleased to present the results of this project.

While we spend most of the year covering the advisors in our space, we set aside one issue to pay attention to the bosses. And in reading about their concerns, you'll get a dose not only of market woes and customer service issues, but of management strategy as well.

Some investors remain jittery-an after effect of the market meltdown and subsequent recession. But for the most part, the dark days are (finally) behind us. And you'll feel the surge of optimism as you read the profiles in the following pages, as program managers discuss the industry and their jobs in a very back-to-business manner.

As with any analysis of corporate management, you'll see some common threads woven through these pages: cross-selling, team building and, of course, the inherent culture clash created by an advisory team working for a bank. As for the popularity of products, mutual funds, managed accounts and annuities ranked highly. Life insurance, ETFs and individual stocks did not.

Our list is ranked by the average production per advisor on the managers' teams. In the case of a tie, we then ranked by the number of advisors on the team.

So read on to learn about the strategies and personalities that are leading the industry.

 

1. Ken Wren Jr.

Like many of our top 20 program managers, Ken Wren Jr. attributes his success to a team effort. His inclusion in our list, he says, is more a reflection of the quality of financial advisors at TowneBank as well as its supportive management team and board. As such, he gives his colleagues wide latitude: "We do not dictate product or process to our advisors; each of them is passionate about their business. We try to provide a supportive environment."

The bank has advisors who are very hands on at picking stocks and funds, and others who are bigger advocates of managed account platforms, he says. But ultimately, they are all experienced and passionate about how they manage their client assets.

One of the hardest things about the job these days is keeping current with an ever-changing compliance landscape. Wren says he feels fortunate to have a full-time compliance and operations person who was formerly an internal auditor. "She really stays on top of all the day-to-day compliance activities," he says.

Wren joined his father in 1994 at a small regional firm where Ken Wren Sr.—a champion stock- and fund-picker who chose not to assume a management role—had been since 1974. The father and son stayed until 2004, and then joined TowneBank, where they founded the investment group with Drew Bolling, Patti Gilbert and Amy Demeter. Since then, the group has grown from $260 million in assets to almost $800 million.

Wren maintains that one of the biggest changes during his career in the financial industry has been the convergence of banking and brokerage. Many of the investment firm names from the first days of his career are either gone or have been acquired by a bank, he notes. But that confluence has not only lead to more than simply a host of new corporate names, it has also created one of the major sticking points in this industry, he says. As banks have moved further into investment advice and asset management, a channel conflict has arisen that is confusing to clients and creates competition internally.

At many banks, there are now three different channels. However, TowneBank has gone in the other direction, streamlining the process by maintaining a single channel. As such, Wren and his team can focus on the clients' best interests, he says. "It really comes down to treating the clients' money like it were your own."

For example, he recalls a client who recently asked about moving a managed mutual fund account to a variable annuity with a guarantee of lifetime income. "After a thorough review with the client, it became apparent he had no plan to use the assets for income. In fact, he wasn't likely to use the one annuity he owned for income," Wren says. "We recommended keeping the managed fund account at lower expense as the additional fee [to the client] for the income guarantee was not in his best interest. Our revenue would have been higher if we had made the change, but it did not meet the client's need."

Bank/TPM: TowneBank/Raymond James
Location: Suffolk, Va.
No. of reps managed: 5
Avg. production per rep: $875,013
Total production 2011 (projected): $4.4m
Total production 2010: $3.9m
AUM 2011: $761m
AUM 2010: $631m
Years at the bank: 7
Years in the industry: 17
Age of program: 7
Total number of branches: 18
Product mix: Managed accounts 32%; mutual funds 26%; equities 19%; VAs 13%; fixed income 9%; fixed annuities 1%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? No


2. Kevin Fisher

As a triathlete, Kevin Fisher is ultra-competitive. "I train every day. A healthy body translates into a healthy mind. This keeps me sharp, fit and energized," says the president and CEO of Northwest Financial in Herndon, Va.

Working in the investment industry brings continuous challenges. "We constantly need to rebuild trust with our clients, especially given the economy and the financial crisis of a few years ago." Many of Northwest Financial's clients are government retirees, including former CIA employees pursuing second careers.

To serve their needs, and to improve business in general, Fisher says he's constantly asking for feedback on services. One possible area for improvement is finding new personnel. "We need talented young advisors; they are in short supply and there's a growing demand," he says.

The six investment program advisors in his firm have upward of 1,000 clients each and, "we need succession plans to bring in junior reps," he says. Fisher doesn't consider himself a micro-manager; he lets advisors make most of their own decisions. "We have talented capable people who are self-starters." He tells his staff to "get out there" and find new clients through community involvement such as churches and clubs.

Bank/TPM: Northwest Financial/LPL
Location: Herndon, Va.
No. of reps managed: 6
Avg. production per rep: $708,905
Total production 2011 (projected): $5m
Total production 2010: $4.3m
AUM 2011: $569m
AUM 2010: $540m
Years at the bank: 10
Years in the industry: 13
Age of program: 13
Total number of branches: 4
Product mix: Managed accounts 66%; mutual funds 23%; VAs 10%; equities 1%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? Yes


3. Janet Anna and Tommy Williams

Janet Anna and Tommy Williams, co-branch managers who have worked together for a dozen years, believe in a hands-off management style. "We encourage each advisor to fully develop their method of addressing client situations," says Williams.

Anna adds that generous compensation and the freedom to build their client bases are part of the mix that appeals to advisors. That's how the two managers have approached their partnership, which now includes an insurance agency.

The duo met when Anna and her husband were clients of Williams. At the time, Anna was a full-time mom with an MBA, and Williams was a professional with 14 years of experience. Over time, Williams convinced Anna to join the firm, and eventually they formed a partnership.

If everything were that easy, they would have no complaints. But what's their take on the state of the industry? They both see the need for better time management in the industry. But the other&151;more compliance oversight—has them even more worried. "We're rapidly reaching the point where compliance and legal [departments] are substituting their judgment for the advisors," Williams says. He acknowledges that the pendulum had previously swung too far in the other direction, creating the need for current regulation. But now "the challenge is getting compliance and legal to recognize the difference between branches that insist on high ethical standards and those who do not," he says. "If this problem is not addressed, the relationship between firms and their advisors will hurt the people we both seek to serve."

Bank/TPM: Woodforest National Bank/Raymond James
Location: The Woodlands, Texas
No. of reps managed: 5
Avg. production per rep: $648,020
Total production 2011 (projected): $3.2m
Total production 2010: $2.7m
AUM 2011: $528.5m
AUM 2010: $531.2m
Years at the bank: 11
Years in the industry: Anna, 11; Williams, 25
Age of program: 11
Total number of branches: 5
Product mix: Managed accounts 35%; mutual funds 27%; VAs 17%; equities 13%; fixed income 5%; life insurance 2%; fixed annuities 1%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? No


4. Vance Richard

A love of sports, particularly the New Orleans Saints and the Houston Astros, helps define the competitive team atmosphere that Vance Richard fosters at Iberia Financial Services. "We have what I'd call a fun culture, a tight-knit, friendly competition group," he says about his team. As a producing manager, Richard says sticking to a playbook is essential for a smooth-running operation. "I'm a process guy. I stick to a model of high standards. This also creates a rep-friendly environment to work in," he adds.

But the outside environment can be as challenging as a shot at the Super Bowl. Amid rapid growth of Iberia Financial's parent, Iberiabank, Richard says it's difficult to keep pace. The bank has grown through acquisition, with two new banks in 2009 alone. "It's difficult to staff up, keep pace and maintain the culture and high standards," he says.

The regulatory environment is also challenging. Audits are more frequent and of greater depth, "but this also benefits the industry by enhancing investor confidence" he notes. It's also challenging to meet the income demands of clients in an environment of continued low interest rates. Richard expects slight increases in rates, which "will be better for savers and people who live off their investments."

Richard sees more golf in his future, but with many years left in his career he plans to be at Iberia for the long haul.

Bank/TPM: Iberia Bank/Essex National Securities
Location: Lafayette, LA
No. of reps managed: 26
Avg. production per rep: $600,000
Total production 2011 (projected): $9.7m
Total production 2010: $7.2m
AUM 2011: $627m
AUM 2010: $575m
Years at the bank: 13
Years in the industry: 22
Age of program: 18
Total number of branches: 145
Product mix: Fixed income 43%; Fixed annuities 28%; VAs 20%; REITs 3.5%; Mutual funds 2%; Managed accounts 1.5%; ETFs 1%; Life insurance 1%; Equities 1%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? Yes


5. Dan Anderson

Dan Anderson says one of his challenges is recruiting qualified advisors "who embrace our philosophy." That means that advisors must be able to work aggressively in MainSource's segmented market. The bank has a presence in four states and advisors must be able to service satellite offices from a central hub.

He describes the office environment as supportive but motivated. "They know I'm there to support them 100%, but they have to meet high expectations," including minimum monthly performance requirements. Anderson relishes that the advisors at MainSource have learned to think for themselves. "They may ask me questions, but I ask them questions back. I've learned that technique from being a parent." In fact, Anderson credits his three young kids for helping him grow as a manger. "My kids give me more perspective to do anything. Because of my kids, when working with my team I've learned how to listen, teach, mentor and sometimes parent," he said.

On the job front, growth is always on the front burner. Helping customers achieve financial security is a primary goal, but another goal among his advisors is to attain a younger customer demographic. To help get new clients, the bank is launching a campaign to entice small business customers. And to motivate the staff, Anderson has instituted a plan he calls the "branch butler campaign." If advisors hit a specific referral target, for example, the winning branch gets butler services for the day-car washes, even shirt ironing.

Bank/TPM: MainSource Bank/Raymond James
Location: Greensburg, Ind.
No. of reps managed: 5
Avg. production per rep: $583,873
Total production 2011 (projected): $2.9m
Total production 2010: $1.8m
AUM 2011: $156m
AUM 2010: $131m
Years at the bank: 9
Years in the industry: 16
Age of program: 9
Total number of branches: 85
Product mix: Mutual funds 32%; VAs 27%; fixed annuities 26%; managed accounts 8%; fixed income 3%; equities 3%; life insurance 1%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? No


6. Brian Lucareli

Lucareli is responsible for establishing strategy, direction and vision for the wealth management group. A strong advocate for a client-centric approach to wealth management, he has also been instrumental in fostering an environment that recognizes reps for their contributions, reflecting the attitude of the family-owned parent company.

Bank/TPM: Johnson Bank/Invest Financial Corp.
Location: Racine, Wis.
No. of reps managed: 9
Avg. production per rep: $580,059
Total production 2011 (projected): $6m
Total production 2010: $5.2m
AUM 2011: $871.6m
AUM 2010: $847.4m
Years at the bank: 20
Years in the industry: 20
Age of program: 25
Total number of branches: 60
Product mix: Mutual funds 28%; UITs 28%; VAs 16%; fixed income 11%; equities 8%; managed accounts 4%; fixed annuities 2%; life insurance 1%; REITs 1%; ETFs 1%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? Yes


7. Steve Sherrod/Don Foster

Sherrod and Foster have nearly 60 years of combined experience in the industry. They like to see clients live debt-free, so they focus initially on debt management before moving into retirement or financial planning. They formed a 50/50 partnership in 1984 and now oversee four branch locations.

Bank/TPM: The Bank and Trust/Raymond James
Location: San Angelo, Texas
No. of reps managed: 5
Avg. production per rep: $574,613
Total production 2011 (projected): $2.9m
Total production 2010: $2.7m
AUM 2011: $614.7m
AUM 2010: $580.3m
Years at the bank: 4
Years in the industry: Sherrod, 31; Foster, 28
Age of program: 4
Total number of branches: 4
Product mix: Mutual funds 73%; managed accounts 13%; fixed income 7%; equities 4%; VAs 3%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? No


8. Leo Iacobelli

The investment program for ESL Federal Credit Union, which Iacobelli helped launch in 1997, aims at middle income to upscale investors as a primary market. His goal is to offer services ranging from basic needs of the "emerging investor," all the way to the more complex needs of the affluent/upscale investor. He points to low rep turnover and high client loyalty.

Bank/TPM: ESL Federal Credit Union/LPL Financial
Location: Rochester, N.Y.
No. of reps managed: 12
Avg. production per rep: $574,000
Total production 2011 (projected): $6.9m
Total production 2010: $5.5m
AUM 2011: $780m
AUM 2010: $650m
Years at the bank: 14
Years in the industry: 24
Age of program: 14
Total number of branches: 20
Product mix: Mutual funds 44%; VAs 20%; fixed annuities 20%; managed accounts 12%; life insurance 2%; equities 1%; long-term-care insurance 1%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? Yes


9. Michael Petramalo

The Wells Fargo advisor spends a third of his time coaching, training and mentoring FAs—or what he calls "leading from the front." Recruiting is another critical part of Petramalo's role as the ability to attract top talent raises the bar for his entire team. The Wells model is centered around a planning culture and he encourages FAs to leverage the model to solve every client need.

Bank/TPM: Wells Fargo Advisors
Location: Miami, Fla.
No. of reps managed: 42
Avg. production per rep: $543,000
Total production 2011 (projected): $22m
Total production 2010: $20m
AUM 2011: $2.8b
AUM 2010: $2.5b
Years at the bank: 14 months
Years in the industry: 21
Age of program: 30
Total number of branches: 84
Product mix: Fixed annuities 29%; managed accounts 18%; mutual funds 17%; fixed income 15%; VA 12%; equities 6%; life insurance 1%; other 2%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? No


10. Curt Anderson/Nancy Geubelle

Anderson and Geubelle approach their business from a financial planning perspective, as opposed to a product approach. And to bolster the team atmosphere, they facilitate access to the in-house experts on tax, trust, investment and legal issues to lend support to the advisors.

Bank/TPM: Busey Bank/Raymond James
Location: Champaign, Ill.
No. of reps managed: 4
Avg. production per rep: $542,282
Total production 2011 (projected): $2.2m
Total production 2010: $2.1m
AUM 2011: $564m
AUM 2010: $572m
Years at the bank: Anderson, 26; Geubelle, 16
Years in the industry: Anderson, 26; Geubelle, 22
Age of program: 22
Total number of branches: 51
Product mix: Mutual funds 51%; managed accounts 26%; equities 10%; VAs 6%; fixed income 5%; fixed annuity 1%; life insurance 1%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? No


11. Michael Gradl

The Redwood program manager maintains accountability by tracking sales goals, marketing schedules and key priorities of advisors and managers. Quarterly reviews ensure consistency. Along with a consistent methodology for goal setting, Gradl has turned the program around. He embodies the motto: "Without a road map you're relying on luck to get you to your destination."

Bank/TPM: Redwood Credit Union/CUSO Financial Services
Location: Santa Rosa, Calif.
No. of reps managed: 5
Avg. production per rep: $533,000
Total production 2011 (projected): $3.2m
Total production 2010: $2.7m
AUM 2011: $219m
AUM 2010: $210m
Years at the bank: 5
Years in the industry: 18
Age of program: 10
Total number of branches: 15
Product mix: VAs 40%; mutual funds 38%; Fixed annuities 10%; equities 5%; life insurance 3%; managed accounts 2%; fixed income 2%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? Yes


12. Jan Krug

After 25 years in the business, Krug joined Tri-Counties Bank in September 2010. She lists P&L management, recruiting, coaching and sales development as areas of expertise. At Tri-Counties, the goal is to build out the FA team providing coverage and partnership to its bankers in both retail, business and commercial banking.

Bank/TPM: Tri-Counties Bank/Raymond James
Location: Chico, Calif.
No. of reps managed: 3
Avg. production per rep: $532,698
Total production 2011 (projected): $1.6m
Total production 2010: $1.1 0m
AUM 2011: $218m
AUM 2010: $211m
Years at the bank: Eight months
Years in the industry: 26
Age of program: 25
Total number of branches: 63
Product mix: Mutual funds 40%; VAs 32%; managed accounts 14%; fixed income 5%; fixed annuities 4%; equities 3%; life insurance 2%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? No


13. Lori Reidy

As program manager of Popular Investment Services, Reidy travels across the bank's far-flung, five-state area (it includes New York, Florida and California). She supplements these in-person visits with weekly conference calls. Lori not only supports her FCs, but is also responsible for a large platform program that complements the dedicated reps' production.

Bank/TPM: Banco Popular/Essex National Securities
Location: Rosemont, Ill.
No. of reps managed: 11
Avg. production per rep: $514,090
Total production 2011 (projected): $6.4m
Total production 2010: $5.7m
AUM 2011: $576m
AUM 2010: $540m
Years at the bank: 8
Years in the industry: 25
Age of program: 9
Total number of branches: 95
Product mix: Fixed annuities 82%; VAs 10%; mutual funds 4%; fixed income 1%; other 3%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? Yes


14. Gary Collier

Collier's key management strategy is to recruit advisors who are self-reliant and entrepreneurial. He tries to create an atmosphere where they will flourish by sharing ideas, mentoring and cross-pollinating successful ideas. He tries to remain understanding of advisors' needs, but says he has little patience if they don't take advantage of opportunities at the bank.

Bank/TPM: Pinnacle National Bank/Raymond James
Location: Nashville, Tenn.
No. of reps managed: 15
Avg. production per rep: $500,600
Total production 2011 (projected): $7.5m
Total production 2010: $6.6m
AUM 2011: $1.0B
AUM 2010: $937m
Years at the bank: 2
Years in the industry: 20
Age of program: 10
Total number of branches: 34
Product mix: Managed accounts 41%; mutual funds 31%; VAs 15%; equities 7%; fixed income 5%; life insurance 1%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? No


15. Tim Ratty

Ratty's team delivers a "full balance sheet approach" to clients by utilizing the full gamut of resources at Wells Fargo. His goal is to meet clients' needs through comprehensive relationship development and planning- based assessment. Whether Ratty is speaking publicly or involved in a client meeting, his knowledge and ability to convey a message is crucial.

Bank/TPM: Wells Fargo Advisors
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
No. of reps managed: 30
Avg. production per rep: $500,000
Total production 2011 (projected): $20m
Total production 2010: $15m
AUM 2011: $2.5B
AUM 2010: $2.0B
Years at the bank: 2
Years in the industry: 15
Age of program: 15
Total number of branches: 161
Product mix: Managed accounts 30%; mutual funds 21%; fixed income 15%; VAs 10%; equities 10%; life insurance 6%; fixed annuities 5%; Long-term-care insurance 3%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? No


16. John Tisthammer

As a result of good hiring, Tisthammer's team has taken a program that produced $1 million in 1999, and increased it to more than $3 million last year. He leads the way with his attention to detail, not to mention his multiyear plan to help bring rookie advisors up to speed. He also focuses on successful business strategies for veteran producers.

Bank/TPM: Washington Trust Bank/PrimeVest Financial Services
Location: Spokane, Wash.
No. of reps managed: 6
Avg. production per rep: $500,000
Total production 2011 (projected): $2.8m
Total production 2010: $3.0m
AUM 2011: $541m
AUM 2010: $514m
Years at the bank: 18
Years in the industry: 26
Age of program: 24
Total number of branches: 26
Product mix: Mutual funds 36%; VAs 22%; equities 16%; fixed annuities 4%; life insurance 1%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? Yes


17. Mike Zito

Trustmark's program has grown about 40% since Zito took the reins in 2006-a time with no shortage of turbulence in the market. His goal is to remain focused on recruiting, he says, to keep the team performing at a high level. He believes that the right advisors are self-motivated and just need guidance, which is why he keeps an open door and doesn't micro-manage.

Bank/TPM: Trustmark Wealth Management/LPL Financial
Location: Jackson, Miss.
No. of reps managed: 13
Avg. production per rep: $496,737
Total production 2011 (projected): $7.8m
Total production 2010: $7.4m
AUM 2011: $1.2b
AUM 2010: $1.2b
Years at the bank: 8
Years in the industry: 22
Age of program: 19
Total number of branches: 170
Product mix: Fixed income 30%; mutual funds 27%; managed accounts 13%; VAs 13%; FAs 6%; equities 9%; REITs 1%; life insurance 1%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? No


18. Matthew Watson

Watson works hard to help his advisors grow their business, mostly by removing the obstacles for growth. And he knows the ropes from his own varied experiences in the advisory industry. He has worked as independent advisor, chief compliance officer and wealth management manager. Last year, he grew revenue by 19%, and new managed money revenue by 53%.

Bank/TPM: Huntington Bank
Location: Columbus, Ohio
No. of reps managed: 31
Avg. production per rep: $496,000
Total production 2011 (projected): $15.8m
Total production 2010: $16.4m
AUM 2011: $1.7b
AUM 2010: $1.6b
Years at the bank: 9
Years in the industry: 18
Age of program: 21
Total number of branches: 620
Product mix: VAs 38%; Fixed annuities 29%; mutual funds 9%; managed accounts 8%; life insurance 8%; fixed income 5%; equities 1%; ETFs 1%; REITs 1%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? Yes


19. Jeff Williams

Hiring and retaining the right people are crucial in today's market, says Williams. He establishes a common vision as part of the recruiting process and helps new hires execute a shared business plan. He uses a similar model with managers to make sure they are all on the same page, which, he says, is the difference between simply being good and outstanding.

Bank/TPM: Huntington Bank
Location: Grand Haven, Mich.
No. of reps managed: 35
Avg. production per rep: $492,000
Total production 2011 (projected): $24m
Total production 2010: $17.3m
AUM 2011: $2b
AUM 2010: $1.9b
Years at the bank: 6
Years in the industry: 14
Age of program: 21
Total number of branches: 620
Product mix: Fixed annuities 40%; VAs 20%; life insurance 13%; fixed income 10%; mutual funds 8%; managed accounts 6%; equities 1%; REITs 1%; ETFs 1%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? Yes


20. Melanie Weischwill

Since becoming program manager at the PrimeVest investment unit of First Victoria National Bank in 2007, Weischwill has prospered as a $1 million-plus producer. Now in her fourth year as a producing program manager, Weischwill says her staff knows that she has three passions: family, career and working out (her time to relax).

Bank/TPM: First Victoria Bank/PrimeVest Financial Services
Location: Victoria, Texas
No. of reps managed: 8
Avg. production per rep: $475,000
Total production 2011 (projected): $3.8m
Total production 2010: $3.7m
AUM 2011: $575m
AUM 2010: $520m
Years at the bank: 14
Years in the industry: 16
Age of program: 14
Total number of branches: 26
Product mix: Equities 46%; mutual funds 19%; fixed annuities 17%; VAs 17%; life insurance 1%
Do you decide what products are on the shelf? Yes