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Top 100 bank advisors (1–25)

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Many of the advisors on this year’s Bank Investment Consultant's Top 100 list focus on fostering personal relationships with their clients that go well beyond portfolio building and financial planning.

One advisor notes that taking an interest in clients’ lives outside of financials — including travel plans, restaurant preferences and hobbies — is what deepens an advisor-client partnership. “Clients want a down-to-earth, non-stuffy person who is knowledgeable but can be looked upon as an extension of their family,” he says.

Another advisor makes it a point to visit his clients abroad, in places including South America, the Caribbean and Europe. While many on the list acknowledge that technology increasingly does and should play an important role in financial planning, face-to-face human contact is still prized.

“I stay relevant by being able to hold my clients’ hands to and through retirement,” one advisor notes. “A computer cannot do that.”

The advisors on our list have a variety of different focuses, and varying degrees of experience. Some have a high-net-worth clientele, while others make it a point to work with clients who have less than $1 million to invest. Some have been in the industry for 30-plus years, others are new to advising. This year’s No. 1 advisor uses his relative youth as a differentiator, aiming to work with families for generations to come.

This year’s list, like last year’s, was created through a formula encompassing AUM, production and percentage of fee-based business. Some on the list shone in some areas and were less strong in others. Some advisors have also dealt with challenges in the past, including involvement in client settlements. However, a professional life without challenges is rare, and all on our list are, of course, licensed, working advisors who currently serve clients both across the country and the globe.

As we noted last year, statistics don’t tell the whole story of an advisor and his or her worth. There are many qualities that cannot be measured by a list like this, such as how an advisor relates to each client and what they give back to their communities, among many other more subjective characteristics. However, numbers do tell their own story, and we consider our formula a fair way to rank advisors for this annual list.

Citibank, Raymond James and LPL were represented heavily this year, along with other firms including SunTrust, Pinnacle and Citizens.

See our full top 100 advisor coverage in our slideshows, beginning with the top 25.

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1. Andrew Vahab
Bank: Citibank: Citi Personal Wealth Management
Location: New York
TPM: N/A
2019 AUM: $1.23 billion
2018 AUM: $1.06 billion
2019 Production: $5.89 million
2018 Production: $5.40 million
Fee-based business: 68%
Production/AUM: 0.48%
Years in current job: 12
Total years in industry: 16

While many might suggest youth is a disadvantage in financial planning, Andrew Vahab says he uses this as a key differentiator in his success. Clients entrust he will be there to watch them surpass their goals and be an advisor for future generations. His team engages clients through the lens of a multi-family office experience. Vahab says he is reminded every day that the one constant will always be change. The rapid movement in economic and political cycles coupled with technological advancement pushes him and his team to always think two steps ahead for their clients.
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2. Trey Smith
Bank: SunTrust Investment Services
Location Nashville, Tennessee
TPM: N/A
2019 AUM: $808 million
2018 AUM: $778 million
2019 Production: $4.18 million
2018 Production: $3.83 million
Fee-based business: 70%
Production/AUM: 0.52%
Years in current job: 14
Total years in industry: 20

Trey Smith says he and his colleagues serve families by utilizing a disciplined approach to allow them to fulfill their personal, charitable and legacy goals. In addition to focusing on advising and planning with high-net-worth clientele, he has written two books: “Tips, Tricks & $ Advice They Didn't Teach You in College” and “Money Does Grow on Trees: The Family Tree.”
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3. Alex Marks
Bank: Citi Personal Wealth Management
Location Chicago
TPM: N/A
2019 AUM: $757.5 million
2018 AUM: $733.4 million
2019 Production: $4.33 million
2018 Production: $4.40 million
Fee-based business: 49%
Production/AUM: 0.57%
Years in current job: 29
Total years in industry: 31

Alex Marks prides himself on working closely with clients and becoming a trusted partner to the client’s family or business. He considers it a top priority for individuals and families to know that any subject is open for discussion, not just investments. One of his greatest accomplishments in 25 years of industry experience is the community network he has built. “They not only educate me, but they are a resource for questions and problems that help me service others,” he says. Technology is moving at such a fast pace that Marks has prioritized partnering with Citi to be a leader in marrying digital capabilities and bespoke wealth management.
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4. Russ Cesari
Bank: Northwest Federal Credit Union
Location: Herndon, Virginia
TPM: LPL Financial
2019 AUM: $718.5 million
2018 AUM: $651.6 million
2019 Production: $6.30 million
2018 Production: $6.04 million
Fee-based business: 96%
Production/AUM: 0.88%
Years in current job: 19
Total years in industry: 19

“Wealth management is a second career for me and my most rewarding in many ways, especially the positive impact I can have on my clients’ lives,” Russ Cesari says. His first career working for a large international corporation developed his skills in business and personnel management. As a corporate executive, he acquired insight into international governments, currency and business practices that led to an understanding the markets and how to manage financial assets. Many of his clients are active or former federal employees with international responsibilities. “Serving my clients to the best of my ability in order to help them pursue their dreams and aspirations is my passion,” Cesari says.
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5. Louis Ricciardi
Bank: Bristol Wealth Group
Location: Taunton, Massachusetts
TPM: Raymond James
2019 AUM: $659.7 million
2018 AUM: $603 million
2019 Production: $3.5 million
2018 Production: $2.6 million
Fee-based business: 64%
Production/AUM: 0.53%
Years in current job: 10
Total years in industry: 37

Louis Ricciardi has always enjoyed working with clients to individualize their portfolios, developed strategically to fund the goals and priorities in their lives over the long term. He enjoys helping clients understand the markets and make sound financial decisions. Before joining Raymond James, he was a senior vice president, investments, at Paine Webber and Dean Witter Reynolds, as well as UBS Financial Services. He joined Raymond James in 2009 and has been named to the Raymond James Chairman’s Council each year since 2011. In 2011, Bridgewater State University honored his years of dedicated leadership at all levels of the institutions governance boards by naming the Louis M. Ricciardi College of Business.
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6. Josh Haber
Bank: Citibank: Citi Personal Wealth Management
Location: New York
TPM: N/A
2019 AUM: $643.7 million
2018 AUM: $548.2 million
2019 Production: $2.56 million
2018 Production: $2.50 million
Fee-based business: 76%
Production/AUM: 0.40%
Years in current job: 19
Total years in industry: 19

“The wealth management business is changing at light speed,” Josh Haber says. “The challenge of differentiating our business today is getting much more difficult than at any point in time I can remember over the course of my career.” His team has used financial planning as the strategy to gather extensive information on their clients, he says. Deeper knowledge on specific client issues leads to a deeper understanding of how to properly solve those issues and build long-lasting relationships, he notes. “Significant assets are currently in motion, and when clients feel that they are receiving the right advice tailored to their specific needs and situation, we find clients are willing to pay a premium for that engagement,” he says.
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7. Robert Hanes
Bank: Citibank: Citi Personal Wealth Management
Location: New York
TPM: N/A
2019 AUM: $641.1 million
2018 AUM: $547.5 million
2019 Production: $2.33 million
2018 Production: $2.16 million
Fee-based business: 90%
Production/AUM: 0.36%
Years in current job: 26
Total years in industry: 26

Robert Hanes and his colleague Josh Haber, No. 6 on this list, work together to guide affluent families with respect to their investments and insurance, as well as financial and intergenerational planning. “Today’s digital age has disrupted traditional financial services,” Hanes says. “Clients expect a flexible advisory experience that accounts for their rapidly changing needs. To help meet this expectation, my guidance goes beyond a one-size-fits-all financial model that is based on answers to a few simple questions. I offer financial planning that is tailored to my clients’ unique circumstances.”
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8. Nathan Quello
Bank: First Dakota National Bank
Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
TPM: Raymond James
2019 AUM: $617.9 million
2018 AUM: $593.6 million
2019 Production: $3.03 million
2018 Production: $2.71 million
Fee-based business: 55%
Production/AUM: 0.49%
Years in current job: 6
Total years in industry: 19

Nathan Quello has been a part of the financial services world almost his entire life, learning from his father, John Quello’s, 40-plus years of experience. He joined his father 18 years ago as part of his team, and together they joined First Dakota National Bank & Raymond James four years ago in an effort to expand the already deep relationships they had with their clients. Quello specializes in high-net-worth planning and working with business owners. He knows the importance of being active in his community, and he serves on several Sioux Falls community foundation boards.
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9. Louis Glaser
Bank: SunTrust Investment Services
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
TPM: NFS
2019 AUM: $518 million
2018 AUM: $496 million
2019 Production: $3.34 million
2018 Production: $3.27 million
Fee-based business: 80%
Production/AUM: 0.65%
Years in current job: 28
Total years in industry: 28

As the founder of The Glaser Group at SunTrust Investment Services, Louis Glaser integrates wealth planning into his clients’ investment management solutions. The group advises clients on all aspects of their financial well-being through thoughtful, systematic and comprehensive investment policies. His client’s assets are managed in-house within the group exclusively for clients through the group’s propriety core-satellite investment strategy, as well as consultation on outside investment assets. The Glaser Group includes a CFP, a portfolio manager and partners within private wealth management that offer his clients lending and banking solutions.
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10. Micah Hart
Bank: SunTrust Bank
Location: Columbia, Maryland
TPM: N/A
2019 AUM: $500 million
2018 AUM: $325 million
2019 Production: $3.01 million
2018 Production: $2.12 million
Fee-based business: 60%
Production/AUM: 0.60%
Years in current job: 14
Total years in industry: 14

Micah Hart’s focus is advising on the development and implementation of investment strategies to help clients meet their immediate and future goals. He follows a disciplined process of assessing a client’s financial situation, determining risk tolerance, forming and executing an appropriate investment plan and regularly rebalancing the portfolio to obtain measurable results. He also consults on risk management, retirement planning and other critical financial strategies.
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11. John McRae
Bank: Citizens National Bank
Location: Meridian, Mississippi
TPM: Raymond James
2019 AUM: $486.8 million
2018 AUM: $455.7 million
2019 Production: $3.06 million
2018 Production: $3.16 million
Fee-based business: 65%
Production/AUM: 0.63%
Years in current job: 20
Total years in industry: 26

John McRae leverages his experience in the industry every day by building well-diversified portfolios. He then preaches patience to his clients. He proactively contacts clients regularly, and this approach ensures he knows what’s going on in their lives. His clients are urged to build a team of professionals from the legal, accounting and investment arenas so they are well-equipped to make better decisions. Outside the bank, McRae works closely with attorneys and CPAs to further expand his client base. While he has a number of investment strategies in place, above all else, his clients know he is always ready to serve them in every way possible, with their best interests at heart.
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12. Emile Abinader
Bank: Citibank: Citi Personal Wealth Management
Location: Granada Hills, California
TPM: N/A
2019 AUM: $476.3 million
2018 AUM: $453.4 million
2019 Production: $4.45 million
2018 Production: $4.31 million
Fee-based business: 95%
Production/AUM: 0.93%
Years in current job: 20
Total years in industry: 20

Emile Abinader approaches his clients with patience and honesty, addressing any issues or concerns they may have, as no individual has the same situation. This allows him to get a better understanding of clients’ unique needs and investment goals. It’s important to him that he gets to know a client’s family members, accountants and attorney, as well as any charities in which his clients are interested. He builds relationships with his clients, who think of him as family.
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13. Peter Shieh
Bank: Citibank: Citi Personal Wealth Management
Location: Rowland Heights, California
TPM: N/A
2019 AUM: $450.2 million
2018 AUM: $377.8 million
2019 Production: $2.37 million
2018 Production: $2.4 million
Fee-based business: 60%
Production/AUM: 0.53%
Years in current job: 13
Total years in industry: 21

Early in his career, Peter Shieh says a mentor taught him that, to be successful and serve clients, advisors have to have the heart of a social worker and the mindset of a capitalist. Since then, he says, that has been his guiding principle. He strives to help clients understand and focus on their long-term financial goals while still being aware of the emotional aspect of investing. He also helps clients become better investors by educating them on the concepts of behavioral finance. "I help clients through major stages of their financial lives, ranging from wealth accumulation to distribution and inter-generational wealth transfer,” he says. “If they aspire to increase their wealth or create a lasting legacy, they should also have the ability to pursue their financial dreams without jeopardizing their security.”
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14. Samuel Oakley
Bank: Pinnacle Bank
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
TPM: Raymond James
2019 AUM: $449.2 million
2018 AUM: $402 million
2019 Production: $2.95 million
2018 Production: $2.02 million
Fee-based business: 54%
Production/AUM: 0.66%
Years in current job: 2
Total years in industry: 30

Samuel Oakley says that “a good advisor will go the extra mile, a great advisor will fly you around the world.” He says this means he may, for example, run into the office on a Saturday to initiate a wire for a mishap at a client’s daughter’s wedding, or go grocery shopping on Christmas Eve for a client with a broken leg. One of the reasons he left a firm where he had worked for 34 years was because they wanted to dictate whom he could help – based on a client’s account size or net worth. “That’s not how I started in this business, and that will never be my approach to serving individuals that seek my guidance,” he says.
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15. Diane Kessler
Bank: Citi Personal Wealth Management
Location: Bethesda, Maryland
TPM: N/A
2019 AUM: $446.9 million
2018 AUM: $398.3 million
2019 Production: $1.24 million
2018 Production: $1.16 million
Fee-based business: 85%
Production/AUM: 0.28%
Years in current job: 16
Total years in industry: 20

Diane Kessler advises a wide range of clients, from entrepreneurs and professionals, to those with multi-generational wealth. The foundation of her approach to advising is being honest and genuine, driven by a passion to know her clients. This personal approach allows her to combine all facets of her clients’ financial lives into a plan that addresses their needs – including the unexpected. At the same time, she works closely with her clients’ accountants and estate attorneys to coordinate on financial strategies. In the end, her clients expect – and she delivers – easy, reliable and strategic guidance designed to exceed their expectations.
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16. Sabina Lien
Bank: SunTrust Investment Services
Location: Winter Park, Florida
TPM: N/A
2019 AUM: $442 million
2018 AUM: $420 million
2019 Production: $1.97 million
2018 Production: $2.07 million
Fee-based business: 89.5%
Production/AUM: 0.45%
Years in current job: 24
Total years in industry: 24

Sabina Lien takes the time to learn her clients’ needs, wants and aspiration to prepare an optimum financial strategy. This includes goals-based planning that creates customized, actionable solutions. She says her mission is to serve as a trusted advisor by following a disciplined approach positioning planning before investing. She says she builds a client-advisor relationship on a foundation tailored to financial guidance, open lines of communication and strategies to help clients achieve long-term objectives.
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17. Christopher Cralle
Bank: Citi Personal Wealth Management
Location: Oakbrook, Illinois
TPM: N/A
2019 AUM: $432.2 million
2018 AUM: $425.4 million
2019 Production: $2.58 million
2018 Production: $2.38 million
Fee-based business: 45%
Production/AUM: 0.60%
Years in current job: 25
Total years in industry: 30

Christopher Cralle has built his practice around a focus on risk management versus performance against unrealistic benchmarks. By having clients go through the financial planning process with a dedicated CFP on his team, he positions himself on the same side of the table as the client. His clients view him as an ally as they go through this process. They no longer feel alone as they move closer to, or transition into, retirement. Those who are already retired get reinforcement of the right decision and the comfort of knowing someone else is on their side.
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18. Brad Goldberg
Bank: Citi Personal Wealth Management
Location: Chicago
TPM: N/A
2019 AUM: $424.1 million
2018 AUM: $404 million
2019 Production: $2.97 million
2018 Production: $2.83 million
Fee-based business: 70%
Production/AUM: 0.70%
Years in current job: 25
Total years in industry: 25

Brad Goldberg isn’t afraid to ask a client whether they have failed to plan or are planning to fail. He believes that, without a good financial plan, there is no roadmap for where clients are going. He begins by answering two basic questions clients need to ask: “Am I going to be ok?” and, “What are the things I’m not thinking about?” He’s able to address those questions and help keep clients from running into issues that might be in their blind spots. He manages money with an objective approach involving clients in every step of the decision process, helping them feel comfortable and assuring them his recommendations are in their best interest.
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19. Brock Kidd
Bank: Pinnacle Bank
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
TPM: Raymond James
2019 AUM: $418.5 million
2018 AUM: $426.3 million
2019 Production: $3.05 million
2018 Production: $2.71 million
Fee-based business: 84%
Production/AUM: 0.73%
Years in current job: 17
Total years in industry: 24

As a founding partner of Pinnacle Asset Management, Brock Kidd learned the importance of a holistic approach to private wealth clients while also being equally flexible. In addition to working with some of the wealthiest families in his home state, he works with many of the most successful executives and entrepreneurs in health care, several well-known professional athletes and some high-profile music folks. “One of the many things that differentiates my practice is the concierge service my assistant, planning partner and I provide,” Kidd says. “Having a sincere and authentic relationship with a client who ultimately becomes a friend makes all the difference when more difficult decisions inevitably come up.”
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20. David Guthrie
Bank: Citibank: Citi Personal Wealth Management
Location: New York
TPM: N/A
2019 AUM: $418.4 million
2018 AUM: $364.4 million
2019 Production: $1.99 million
2018 Production: $1.82 million
Fee-based business: 70%
Production/AUM: 0.48%
Years in current job: 14
Total years in industry: 14

David Guthrie believes his team's high-touch service, rapid response to client calls and emails, and longevity at his location have led to his growth as an advisor. All of these components are key to building relationships with clients, as they appreciate continuity. One key differentiator with clients has been that, while the S&P 500 dividend yield has been under 2% and fixed-income yields are low worldwide, his team has been able to help clients enhance income in their portfolios using option strategies such as covered call writing and selling put options. This helps generate more income for high-net-worth clients.
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21. Gordon Grimes II
Bank: SunTrust Bank
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
TPM: N/A
2019 AUM: $415.6 million
2018 AUM: $351.6 million
2019 Production: $3.60 million
2018 Production: $2.49 million
Fee-based business: 78%
Production/AUM: 0.87%
Years in current job: 11
Total years in industry: 11

Gordon Grimes II believes integrity and trust are the foundations of a great relationship with clients. He believes in a strong financial plan and a team approach that focuses on investment management, risk, credit needs, business succession and estate strategies. Private wealth service and a highly attentive personal touch are critical to maintaining long and happy relationships with clients, he says.
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22. Fred Greene
Bank: Woodforest Wealth Strategies
Location: The Woodlands, Texas
TPM: Raymond James
2019 AUM: $403.5 million
2018 AUM: $373.9 million
2019 Production: $2.13 million
2018 Production: $2.21 million
Fee-based business: 59%
Production/AUM: 0.53%
Years in current job: 16
Total years in industry: 36

Fred Greene says he never forgets financial advising is a contact business. “The one thing which sets me apart from other advisors is my highly structured contact management system,” he says. “After 35 years as an advisor, the only truth in our industry is nothing beats a personal telephone call.” Clients with over $1 million invested get a call at least monthly from Greene. Clients with more than $5 million invested get a bi-weekly call. Greene says his client retention rate is extremely. “I have found it is much easier to keep clients than to get new ones,” he says. “These solid relationships also produce the best referrals and other opportunities to grow my practice.”
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23. Helen Wong
Bank: Citi Personal Wealth Management
Location: New York
TPM: N/A
2019 AUM: $397.9 million
2018 AUM: $415.5 million
2019 Production: $1.84 million
2018 Production: $1.87 million
Fee-based business: 53%
Production/AUM: 0.46%
Years in current job: 30
Total years in industry: 30

As an advisor focused on planning, Helen Wong says she goes far beyond providing investment guidance. “The right investments matter, but a great investment program does not come solely from knowing investments,” she says. “It comes from deep relationships with my clients.” Wong notes that she talks to clients less about the arcane details of asset allocation strategy, and more about the details of their lives.
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24. Edward Danser
Bank: SunTrust Investment Services
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
TPM: N/A
2019 AUM: $388 million
2018 AUM: $340 million
2019 Production: $2.60 million
2018 Production: $2.10 million
Fee-based business: 78%
Production/AUM: 0.67%
Years in current job: 9
Total years in industry: 20

Edward Danser engages in holistic planning with clients that helps assess their financial goals and objectives. “We believe that asset allocation should be at the cornerstone of every investment strategy,” he says. “We use both passive and active management that complement each other to implement our investment strategy.”
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25. Owen Watstein
Bank: Citi Personal Wealth Management
Location: New York
TPM: N/A
2019 AUM: $380 million
2018 AUM: $375.09 million
2019 Production: $1.49 million
2018 Production: $1.39 million
Fee-based business: 30%
Production/AUM: 0.39%
Years in current job: 21
Total years in industry: 26

Owen Watstein has worked at the same Citi branch for over 20 years. He says he takes an overall holistic approach with high-net-worth clients, working with bank colleagues to provide comprehensive service. “My mission has always been to be a dedicated and trusted financial advisor to my clients,” he says. “My focus has always been to both develop and deepen relationships with my clients over time.”