Howard Hammond is a pretty happy guy. His program, Fifth Third Securities, brought in over $1 billion in assets last year, grew 26% as of November and increased headcount by 30%. He attributes that growth to selectively hiring quality people who are dedicated to understanding the needs of the client. "We've had a tremendous year," he says. "I feel fortunate heading into 2011 and very well positioned to compete. Based on what I hear out there we're pretty unique this year."

Last year was one of those best-of-times, worst-of-times scenarios for many programs. Those, like Fifth Third, that focused on developing strategic, client-centric programs saw impressive growth, while other banks are still struggling just to survive. And one advisor describes the "personality" of 2010 as a year of "unbearable angst," among his baby boomer clients who continued to panic over their retirement savings.

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