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Top 100 bank advisors: Who’s in and how they did it

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Welcome to Bank Investment Consultant’s signature issue, the Top 100 bank advisors.

The data and photos of our winners are the main attractions, but in pulling together the bio information on all 100, certain themes emerged. For instance, even in our digital age, the topics that our top advisors cited sounded like they came from the “old-school” (even though some of the advisors here are quite young.)

Indeed, face-to-face meetings, nuanced observations of human behavior and turning clients into friends were all among the strategies these advisors discussed. Some went as far as to explicitly say they shun social media completely in favor of human contact.

As one example, Brick Sturgeon, one of our perennial winners, noted that advisors should never allow social media to take the place of talking to clients. He compares advisors’ jobs to other professional service providers like doctors or lawyers, and noted that most people's satisfaction does not hinge on the number of social apps they appear on, but rather how that professional uses technology to respond to them in a more timely manner. “I've never complained that my doctor was not on enough social media, but I have been disappointed in a lack of response or attention,” he noted in his nomination form.

We know that readers probably looked first at the lists and only later read this introduction. And now they’re likely wondering how the advisors here were ranked.

As you look at the data, the ranking is obviously not simply a consideration of AUM or annual production. Rather, it's a combination of six factors. Assets and production are indeed two of them, but other metrics are considered, such as percentage changes in both AUM and production, as well as the amount of fee business from the most recent production figures and, finally, the ratio of production per AUM. Those six factors are combined into one composite score to determine the final ranking. (We used AUM as of the end of August, and production of the 12-month period ending Aug. 31. We also rounded numbers for display in the slideshow, but our percentage increase calculations used the full numbers submitted.)

We use multiple metrics to get a more well-rounded view of the best in the channel. The advisors listed here are not just home-run hitters. They are the all-around players skilled in every aspect of their game. This, we would argue, is the way to make any team great.

We've tinkered a bit with the metrics and their weightings over the years. Most notably, the importance of fee business has been increased over the years, from the tack-on element that it was in past years to one of the more important considerations.

Full Top 100 coverage:
Top 100 bank advisors: Who’s in and how they did it
Top 100 bank advisors (1 – 25)
Top 100 bank advisors (26-50)
Top 100 bank advisors (51-75)
Top 100 bank advisors (76 – 100)
Courting HNW clients in the Music City

As we've done in the past, we'll address a few potential objections that may be percolating in some people's minds.

First, this list is subjective in the formulas and weightings that were used.

True, it is. But we use standard measures like AUM, production, fee business and growth. Overall, we feel our list is a well-rounded analysis. In fact, since we even tinker with the weightings from year to year, we feel the subjective nature is a positive, because we can change with an evolving industry.

Another potential objection: An advisor could have $1 billion in AUM and still be marginalized. Here, we disagree. The categories where size counts (AUM and production) were major parts of the ranking. In fact, production had a double impact since it's also the numerator of our ratio of production-to-AUM. Although admittedly, a high AUM could work against an advisor with this ratio if their production didn't keep pace. But that's the idea behind that ratio, to gauge the profitability of an advisor as a business person.

Finally, critics will tell us that this list does not capture the full value of an advisor. Again, we agree. The full value of an advisor rests on the quality of their client relationships. As this list is quantitative, it cannot convey those types of qualitative measures. (The bios submitted were not used as part of the ranking.) But statistics also count so this is our annual reckoning of the top advisors in the bank channel.

Wells Fargo decided not to participate again this year in our survey, unfortunately. After being a dominant presence for years on our list, the bank decided to not participate last year for the first time. This year, Raymond James, LPL and Citibank are the three dominant firms. In fact, Raymond James had the top advisor this year (Brock Kidd), who we profiled to get more details on his approach. Other firms that had a healthy showing included PNC Bank, CUSO, CUNA, and BOK.

Stay tuned over the next few months as we re-cut the data for auxiliary rankings to highlight the advisors by our various criteria.

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