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Heart of a social worker, mind of a capitalist

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The top adviser this year is Peter Shieh from Citi Personal Wealth Management. This is the first time we've had a Citi adviser in the top spot of our signature list. You can see the main data points of Shieh's business in our slideshow, but we also wanted to include his insights on the advisory business beyond the numbers.

Shieh has been in the industry for 17 years, which includes stints at both Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo, according to BrokerCheck, before starting at Citi more than a decade ago. He says he views his job as being the financial concierge for his clients while working with a team of other pros at Citi to help his clients.

We asked Shieh a series of questions regarding the industry and his job. Here is an edited version of his responses.

How do you set yourself apart from the pack?
Early in my career, one of my mentors taught me that to be successful and serve our clients, we have to have the heart of a social worker and the mind-set of a capitalist. Since then, this has been my guiding principle. I strive to help clients understand and focus on their long-term financial goals while still being aware of the emotional aspect of investing. I also strive to help clients become better investors by educating them on the concepts of behavioral finance.

What is your general approach and strategy to advising?
I help clients through major stages of their financial lives, ranging from wealth accumulation to distribution and inter-generational wealth transfer. At each of these stages, clients need a strategy to help preserve wealth and maintain their standard of living by keeping pace with inflation. 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. I help them allocate their assets and design portfolios that address this dual need for safety and wealth creation.

What do you see as the main challenges facing the industry?
Technology will become a bigger part of our industry and I think it will arrive more quickly and have a bigger impact than most people realize today. Firms and advisers that can adapt and utilize technology as part of a comprehensive wealth strategy will be transformational. Another challenge created by technology is algorithmic trading and the volatility it brings. These programs have made some asset classes move to a correlation of 1 more often than we’d seen previously, and not just during times of market stress. The consequences of this could lead to more of the so-called “black swan” events.

How did you become interested in this career?
When I was young, my parents included me in the planning and organization of their financial lives. That early exposure gave me the desire to further understand wealth management. Then, while interning in college and working closely with my mentors, my eyes were opened to the positive impact I could have in helping other people with their financial lives. This is the reason why I do what I do.

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