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Top Program Managers (1-10)

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Bank Investment Consultant presents the final installment of its annual ranking of the most successful managers of investment services programs at banks and credit unions. Below you will find our top 10.

As we have in the first two parts of this ranking, typical measurements of size — such as the number of advisors on their team, AUM and production — as well as metrics including percentage changes in AUM and production per advisor were used to choose the winners. BIC calculates its own estimates for production-per-advisor based on numbers submitted in our nomination process. Those variables were combined into one composite score to determine our final ranking. (We rounded numbers for display in the slideshow, but all of our calculations used the full numbers submitted, before rounding.)

In using this methodology, we accounted for size, as well as growth and efficiency. We feel this recognizes well-rounded professionals, as opposed to those who excel in one area but fall short in others.

Our list is purely quantitative — the biographies presented did not factor into the ranking, but they do help to provide a well-rounded portrait of our featured managers and their strengths. This year, several managers discussed how they and their teams are managing the COVID-19 crisis, and what changes they think it might bring to the industry. Note that, when ranking numbers are repeated, this means there is a tie in managers’ final scores.

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10. Ken Wren, Jr.
Bank: TowneBank
Location: Suffolk, Virginia
TPM: Raymond James
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2020): 26
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2019): 26
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2020): $3.1 billion
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2019): $2.6 billion
Team 2019 production: $15.8 million
Team 2018 production: $14.9 million
Production per advisor: $607,390
% of 2019 production from fee business: 69%

Having started his career in 1994 at a small regional firm, Ken Wren joined TowneBank along with his father in 2004 to begin its investment program. Since moving their practice to Raymond James and TowneBank, Wren has managed to grow and develop a successful branch. He oversees a blend of experienced traditional and fee-based advisors, and gives each the freedom to decide how best to attend to the wealth management needs of their clients. “As a producing manager, I have always tried to make decisions from an advisor’s perspective,” Wren says. “I have always looked for advisors that have some entrepreneurial spirit and passion for the business.” About his approach to the bank channel, he says, “If we treat the bankers who entrust us with a referral as one of our most important relationships, we will be successful. The best measure of success is when a client shares a positive investment experience with their banker.”
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8. Phil Hurst
Bank: Cathay Bank
Location: San Gabriel, California
TPM: Cetera Financial Institutions
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2020): 22
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2019): 21
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2020): $943.6 million
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2019): $656.9 million
Team 2019 production: $9.9 million
Team 2018 production: $6.8 million
Production per advisor: $460,243
% of 2019 production from fee business: 11%

When he joined Cathay Wealth Management in 2016, Phil Hurst was determined to create a sustainable and growing program. Hurst has always expressed to his team the importance of being available, engaged and compassionate when it comes to their clients. In addition to modifying processes in order to adapt to the current pandemic, Hurst is working to keep his advisors focused on what is critical during these challenging times. "Advisors are getting beat up enormously from the virus and economic fallout,” he says. “In our industry, we have 10-year veterans who have never really been through a true bear market. The same thing they are trying to provide to their clients, I am giving to them.” Hurst encourages his advisors to adopt and refresh themselves on various technologies, because things may never go back to being business as usual. “There is incredible noise out there, and we need to act as a filter for our clients,” he says. “It's important to remind them of why we used certain techniques and products, and the principle of diversification. No one knows how this is going to look after the pandemic has subsided."
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8. Alex Sarafianos
Bank: Regions Bank
Location: St. Petersburg, Florida
TPM: Cetera Financial Institutions
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2020): 131
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2019): 136
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2020): $3.8 billion
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2019): $3.1 billion
Team 2019 production: $36.2 million
Team 2018 production: $22.3 million
Production per advisor: $271,163
% of 2019 production from fee business: 13%

With over 30 years in the industry, Alex Sarafianos has consistently demonstrated high ethics, a can-do attitude and a strong understanding of the bank channel. "This will always be a relationship business between our team, our partners and our customers," Sarafianos says. He believes, particularly given the COVID-19 crisis, that the most important asset of any broker-dealer is its people. Sarafianos has been a leader in working with his advisors on utilizing technology, creating efficiencies and leveraging financial planning to take a deeper dive with clients. This has helped ease the impact from the pandemic. His team has been proactive in checking on their clients, hosting WebEx meetings and doing more business remotely. Although he is looking forward to the crisis being eased, Sarafianos is proud of how his team has reacted to this difficult time, and believes they will come out of this having learned new skills that will benefit them in the future.
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6. Scott Jenner
Bank: Addison Avenue Investment Services (division of First Tech Federal Credit Union)
Location: Rocklin, California
TPM: Raymond James
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2020): 37
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2019): 36
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2020): $4.1 billion
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2019): $3.5 billion
Team 2019 production: $28 million
Team 2018 production: $27.4 million
Production per advisor: $769,465
% of 2019 production from fee business: 72%

“A unified and cohesive team starts and stops with me, and is ultimately my biggest responsibility,” Scott Jenner says. “We have a tremendously talented and intelligent team, and I respect them too much to engage them with insincere dialogue and messaging. This would severely threaten the foundation for success that all of us work so hard to achieve.”

Regarding the COVID-19 crisis, Jenner says it has “thrust our industry and the world into unprecedented times, which really puts everything in perspective. And, while our business is to take amazing care of our clients' financial well-being, their health and safety will always come first.”

Jenner adds that the competition for talent — including advisors, assistants, compliance, operations and support — is as intense as he has ever seen it. Thus, he notes, everyone in these roles must continually evolve their value positions to not only remain competitive but to differentiate themselves from the rest. “With that said,” he adds, “retaining our current team will always be my top priority.”
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6. Chris Alexis
Bank: Citi Personal Wealth Management
Location: New York, New York
TPM: N/A
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2020): 53
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2019): 46
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2020): $5.3 billion
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2019): $4.4 billion
Team 2019 production: $25 million
Team 2018 production: $24 million
Production per advisor: $505,050
% of 2019 production from fee business: 63%

Christopher Alexis has over 25 years of financial services industry experience and has been with Citi Personal Wealth Management for nearly 15 years. His core responsibility is to support his teams to build strong relationships and provide a best-in-class client experience. He started his career as a financial advisor, and has worked his way up to managing a successful cross-team of advisors and Citigold relationship managers as a wealth group executive. He is a big believer that his teams should always be available for clients to serve their immediate and long-term financial and banking needs, especially during a time when most people are working remotely. It's crucial to him to that his team be proactive with client outreach, given the current market uncertainty.
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5. John Zaia
Bank: Citi Personal Wealth Management
Location: New York, New York
TPM: N/A
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2020): 39
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2019): 33
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2020): $4.2 billion
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2019): $3.4 billion
Team 2019 production: $24 million
Team 2018 production: $24 million
Production per advisor: $666,666
% of 2019 production from fee business: 55%

John Zaia is a 30-year veteran in the financial services industry. He is a senior vice president, wealth group, executive with Citi Personal Wealth Management. He currently manages the Westchester and Connecticut markets for the firm. As a manager, Zaia takes great pride in building teams and expanding individuals' capabilities, knowledge and skills to service the growing needs of Citi's clients. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught Zaia the importance of utilizing technology within different practices. His top priority has been supporting his team to be able to focus on providing excellent service to clients, wherever they are located.
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4. Jason Dilorenzo
Bank: Citi Personal Wealth Management
Location: New York, New York
TPM: N/A
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2020): 25
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2019): 44
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2020): $4.1 billion
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2019): $3.5 billion
Team 2019 production: $23 million
Team 2018 production: $18.7 million
Production per advisor: $666,666
% of 2019 production from fee business: 45%

Jason DiLorenzo is a senior vice president and wealth group executive with Citi Personal Wealth Management. He currently manages the Manhattan Square market for the firm. He has been in a leadership role for the past 12 years. Prior to that, DiLorenzo was a top producing bank-based financial advisor. As a leader, DiLorenzo has a hands-on approach and works to align corporate goals with financial advisor goals. As a manager, his top priority is recruiting, developing and retaining the top talent for the firm, and collaborating with all colleagues across the organization. To combat issues around fee compression, DiLorenzo is a big believer in goal-based planning and using holistic planning techniques.
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3. William Desantis
Bank: Citi Personal Wealth Management
Location: New York, New York
TPM: N/A
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2020): 20
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2019): 45
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2020): $4.6 billion
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2019): $3.8 billion
Team 2019 production: $23 million
Team 2018 production: $21 million
Production per advisor: $707,692
% of 2019 production from fee business: 57%

William DeSantis is a senior vice president, wealth group, executive with Citi Personal Wealth Management. He currently manages the downtown Manhattan market for the firm. DeSantis has been working in the banking industry since 2004. He joined Citi in 2011 as a branch manager before transitioning to Citi Personal Wealth Management in 2013, where he's held various roles working on national bank partnerships, recruiting and strategy. His current role in sales management. As a manager, his top priority is breaking down barriers to make it easier for his team to help their clients achieve their financial and personal goals.
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2. Gary Collier
Bank: Pinnacle Bank
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
TPM: Raymond James
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2020): 52
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2019): 49
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2020): $4.6 billion
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2019): $3.8 billion
Team 2019 production: $26.1 million
Team 2018 production: $23.7 million
Production per advisor: $516,971
% of 2019 production from fee business: 65%

“I believe it is very important to focus on creating a work environment where high performing advisors want to practice,” Gary Collier says. “A great work environment allows happy advisors to better serve their clients and to deepen their relationships with internal and external centers of influence.”

He adds, “We do not see ourselves as a typical bank investment program. We are not overly structured with managerial layers and reporting boxes. We are integrated with our bank partners. … We allow our advisors the latitude to manage their practice as though they are independent financial consultants who happen to be working in a bank.”
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1. Mike George
Bank: Fulton Financial Advisors
Location: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
TPM: Raymond James
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2020): 53
Number of advisors personally overseen (as of as of Jan. 1, 2019): 52
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2020): $4.3 billion
Team AUM (as of Jan. 1, 2019): $3.5 billion
Team 2019 production: $29.9 million
Team 2018 production: $26.6 million
Production per advisor: $570,076
% of 2019 production from fee business: 57%

Michael George serves as president of Fulton Financial Advisors’ brokerage division. He is responsible for revenue growth, operational efficiency, service standards and risk mitigation for the division. George joined Fulton Financial Advisors in 2014. The standard philosophy for Fulton Financial Advisors is that advisors desire freedom, flexibility and control. George and his team help build an environment around those concepts, which in turn creates loyalty and commitment. Productivity increases the longer an advisor stays with our firm, which is a desirable result for both the advisor and the bank.