Bank Investment Consultant is pleased to once again roll out its annual list of the top advisors in the bank channel. Our signature ranking factors in multiple measures of individual performance —namely, AUM, production, percentage growth in both AUM and production, fee business and the ratio of production-to-AUM — and combines them into one composite score. (The AUM figures are as of the end of August; the trailing-12 production figures are for the 12-month period ending Aug. 31.)
This way we capture the advisors with the best overall performance. The highest-ranking advisors aren't necessarily those who hit it out of the park in one or two categories and fared poorly in others. Instead, the most outstanding stars for this list are those who do well across the board even if they aren't the absolute best in a specific area.
This year's ranking of the top 100 advisors is divided into four segments. You'll meet the top 25 here, with the remaining 75 in separate slideshows.
Bank: ESL Federal Credit Union TPM: LPL Financial Location: Rochester, New York 2017 AUM: $117.7 million 2016 AUM: $98.7 million 2017 Production: $987,000 2016 Production: $713,000 Years in industry: 18
The wealth manager for ESL Investment Services, Joseph Cappello works exclusively with high-net-worth individuals, business owners and corporations. His average account size is over $1 million and approximately 86% of his business is fee-based, with the remainder being mostly an insurance-based business. He also works as an employee retirement plan advisor and business succession advisor for his business clients and holds various professional designations. He develops close relationships with his clients through review appointments every three months and client appreciation events. Hand-signed birthday cards add a nice touch, too.
24. Seth Marcus
Bank: Citibank TPM: N/A Location: New York 2017 AUM: $516.4 million 2016 AUM: $425 million 2017 Production: $2.2 million 2016 Production: $2 million Years in industry: 20
Seth Marcus focuses on growing portfolios thoughtfully and deliberately, even if that means protecting clients from themselves at times. To accomplish this, he develops long-term plans that are not overly exposed to specific products, sectors or geographic regions. His approach centers on fixed income and cash flow. He also uses other income-paying investments to protect against the interest rate risk associated with traditional bond portfolios. Current clients have been happy to refer family members and friends, which serves as the foundation for building his practice.
23. Emile Abinader
Bank: Citibank TPM: N/A Location: Granada Hills, California 2017 AUM: $424.8 million 2016 AUM: $392.9 million 2017 Production: $3.9 million 2016 Production: $3.7 million Years in industry: 19
Emile Abinader has dedicated the past 17 years to Citi and his clients. A big believer in the importance of quality customer service, he approaches every client with patience and honesty. He helps clients stay focused on the facts and avoid distractions from their financial goals. He has also formed a strong network of influential business professionals he collaborates with to enhance client experience. This combination that has helped him expand his business and consolidate client assets.
22. Michael Kruchten
Bank: First Midwest Bank TPM: LPL Financial Location: Joliet, Illinois 2017 AUM: $184.9 million 2016 AUM: $162.6 million 2017 Production: $1.7 million 2016 Production: $1.5 million Years in industry: 17
Michael Kruchten incorporates behavioral finance and emotional investing principles into his approach to financial planning. He helps clients understand how their emotions can complicate decisions like large purchases or reactions to market downturns. Clients first prioritize their goals for asset protection, estate planning, investments, education and retirement, and he guides them through those objectives one-by-one.
21. Alex Marks
Bank: Citibank TPM: N/A Location: Chicago 2017 AUM: $634.8 million 2016 AUM: $541.9 million 2017 Production: $3.5 million 2016 Production: $3.2 million Years in industry: 26
When clients come to see Alex Marks, any subject is open for discussion — not just investments. In his 25 years in the industry, he has built a strong community network, and he prides himself on becoming a trusted partner to a client’s family or business. He partners with Citi to marry digital solutions with bespoke wealth management.
20. Jamie Hare
Bank: Pinnacle Bank TPM: Raymond James Location: Nashville, Tennessee 2017 AUM: $177.2 million 2016 AUM: $156.1 million 2017 Production: $1.5 million 2016 Production: $1.3 million Years in industry: 18
Jamie Hare advises high-net-worth clients on tax-efficient investing and gifting strategies, and describes himself as an “old-school advisor with only a handful of clients.” Acting as the portfolio manager for all of the relationships that he manages, he utilizes a portfolio of individual high quality stocks and bonds to manage client assets and rarely purchases mutual funds. He never uses annuities. Since most of the assets that he manages are in taxable accounts, owning individual securities helps with tax and gift planning at year-end.
19. Anthony Adamo
Bank: Citibank TPM: N/A Location: Mamaroneck, New York 2017 AUM: $140.8 million 2016 AUM: $117 million 2017 Production: $1.1 million 2016 Production: $798,000 Years in industry: 15
Anthony Adamo puts his clients’ interests first by learning as much as he can about the client and their goals. He was a market maker and bond broker before becoming a financial advisor — a career path that helps him understand trends in the markets and guide clients in making decisions with their investments. He draws on Citi’s resources to help clients, and urges them to use the bank’s online and mobile resources to monitor their investments and stay in touch.
18. James Christy
Bank: Northwest Federal Credit Union TPM: LPL Financial Location: Herndon, Virginia 2017 AUM: $296.7 million 2016 AUM: $266.1 million 2017 Production: $2.6 million 2016 Production: $2.5 million Years in industry: 14
James Christy primarily serves active and retired members of the U.S. national security and intelligence community, and every day, he draws on his more than 40 years of experience in Washington to do so. His career includes stints as counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and counsel to a cabinet secretary, as well as roles in government relations for two Fortune 500 companies. Knowledge from those roles proves valuable in serving his clients, who tend to maintain well-informed and nuanced views on geopolitical and economic matters.
17. Edward Vizcaino
Bank: Citibank TPM: N/A Location: Coral Gables, Florida 2017 AUM: $191.7 million 2016 AUM: $139.6 million 2017 Production: $1.2 million 2016 Production: $957,000 Years in industry: 28
At a conference years ago, Edward Vizcainoheard a speaker talk about becoming a “character of significance and influence” in clients’ lives. He liked the message so much it became the focus of all his interactions. How does one become a character of significance? He believes it begins with trust and stability. He has worked for Citi for 26 years, the past 17 of which were as a financial advisor, and he knows his clients trust him when they ask for recommendations to other service providers, or refer friends and family — which happens regularly these days.
16. Jeffrey Alger
Bank: SunTrust TPM: N/A Location: Brentwood, Tennessee 2017 AUM: $180 million 2016 AUM: $160 million 2017 Production: $1.7 million 2016 Production: $1.4 million Years in industry: 35
Jeffrey Alger takes a holistic approach to advising clients, which includes financial, estate and retirement planning. His detailed and extensive discovery process allows him to pinpoint clients’ needs, goals and objectives. Then he is able to solve their needs with specific strategies and investments. He believes knowledge and experience offer a value-add to clients above and beyond what a robo can offer.
15. John McRae
Bank: Citizens National Bank TPM: Raymond James Location: Meridian, Mississippi 2017 AUM: $417.8 million 2016 AUM: $372.1 million 2017 Production: $2.6 million 2016 Production: $2.3 million Years in industry: 24
John McRae has more than 24 years of experience in the financial services industry, which he leverages everyday as he builds diversified portfolios for his clients. He preaches patience and proactively contacts his clients regularly, ensuring that he knows what is going on in their lives. He also urges clients to build a team of professionals from the legal, accounting and investment arenas to be well equipped to make better decisions. As a result of this strategy, he builds true relationships with his clients who consider him to be their primary point of contact for all their financial planning needs.
14. Eden Demar
Bank: Citibank TPM: N/A Location: New York 2017 AUM: $255.5 million 2016 AUM: $189.5 million 2017 Production: $1.4 million 2016 Production: $1.2 million Years in industry: 16
For Eden Demar, listening is the most important part of developing a new client relationship. He tries not to allow assumptions or preconceived notions about a client’s needs, objectives or expected outcomes influence his advice. He believes the future for financial advisors lies in incorporating both a user-friendly, high-tech experience, with a personal, empathetic human approach. He strives to find a happy medium that balances personal attention with technologically-driven efficiency.
13. Evan Mayer
Bank: SunTrust TPM: N/A Location: Boca Raton, Florida 2017 AUM: $115 million 2016 AUM: $87 million 2017 Production: $1.1 million 2016 Production: $870,000 Years in industry: 14
Evan Mayer uses a four-step proprietary financial planning process while onboarding new clients. The process includes a complimentary, comprehensive financial plan for every client, along with quarterly tracking to make sure that they’re all on the same page during mandatory reviews. The plan looks at asset allocation, tax issues, estate needs, risk-protection needs and financial goals, all of which are constantly reviewed and aligned.
12. David Guthrie
Bank: Citibank TPM: N/A Location: New York 2017 AUM: $270.6 million 2016 AUM: $204.2 million 2017 Production: $1.4 million 2016 Production: $1.1 million Years in industry: 13
As a financial advisor, David Guthrie has always been focused on helping clients achieve their long-term goals. His group’s high-touch service model — and being in the same location for over 11 years — has given him a competitive advantage among his peers and allowed him to provide clients with continuity. Digital technology has also enhanced his business dramatically, helping him serve clients and respond to their needs faster than ever.
11. Brad Goldberg
Bank: Citibank TPM: N/A Location: Chicago 2017 AUM: $365.4 million 2016 AUM: $310.1 million 2017 Production: $2.4 million 2016 Production: $2.2 million Years in industry: 24
Brad Goldberg is not 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 prompting clients to ask themselves two basic questions: “Am I going to be ok?” and, “what are the things that I’m not thinking about?” Brad is able to draw on his more than 20 years of industry experience to address those questions and help clients find their blind spots.
10. Gregory Manning
Bank: Citibank TPM: N/A Location: Stamford, Connecticut 2017 AUM: $188.2 million 2016 AUM: $147.5 million 2017 Production: $1.3 million 2016 Production: $900,000 Years in industry: 34
Gregory Manning has been in the financial advisory business for more than 30 years and over that time, he has built a team that serves high-net-worth individuals, as well as organizations. His background in equity markets and fixed income continues to provide his clients with long-term valuable insights. He embraces new products and does an excellent job incorporating them into the portfolios of his clients.
9. Matthew Griffin
Bank: Family Trust Federal Credit Union TPM: LPL Financial Location: Rock Hill, South Carolina 2017 AUM: $107.1 million 2016 AUM: $78.8 million 2017 Production: $960,000 2016 Production: $714,000 Years in industry: 17
Colleagues say that Matt Griffin’s sincerity when he meets with clients is what separates him from other advisors. Some clients have been brought to tears; others have prayed in the middle of their meetings with him. He’s the polar opposite of the pushy salesman stereotype, they say. Whether he’s working with a CEO or a widow with no financial experience, he takes time to explain everything, and clients leave his office feeling educated and empowered. At the end of the day, if Matt can help the client understand their financial situation better, he considers it a win.
8. Laura Pedroncelli
Bank: First Tech Federal Credit Union (Addison Avenue Investment Services) TPM: Raymond James Location: Santa Rosa, California 2017 AUM: $239 million 2016 AUM: $190.5 million 2017 Production: $1.5 million 2016 Production: $1.3 million Years in industry: 20
Laura Pedroncelli views herself as more a teacher than an advisor. In this age of information, people are overwhelmed with data and choices, she says, so instead of overwhelming clients with industry jargon, she tries to simplify the complex world of investments and help them understand what they are doing and why. She specializes in helping clients make the shift from their work lives to retirement. The transition from saving for 30 to 40 years to creating a payment stream and spending it can be overwhelming, she says. She finds that educating people with this 180-degree turn is the key to nourishing a relationship and keeping long-term, loyal clients.
7. Michael Lipkins
Bank: First Tech Federal Credit Union (Addison Avenue Investment Services) TPM: Raymond James Location: Palo Alto, California 2017 AUM: $224.9 million 2016 AUM: $202 million 2017 Production: $2.1 million 2016 Production: $1.8 million Years in industry: 13
Michael Lipkins’ primary business is based in the heart of Silicon Valley so staying relevant in the digital space is the norm. That said, he says client don't want just another robo or service-center chat session. They need a responsive advisor and a team of people who are always available for counsel, connection and customized service. His dedication to spending face time with clients every day is the crux of his differentiator, he says. They meet with him, he says, not an associate, or a junior, or a service agent. They are important, so they get his time when they want and when they need it.
6. Anne Kurzman
Bank: Citibank TPM: N/A Location: Lake Grove, New York 2017 AUM: $244.9 million 2016 AUM: $215.3 million 2017 Production: $2.2 million 2016 Production: $1.2 million Years in industry: 26
Anne Kurzman’s conversations with clients about wealth management focus on four key areas: lifestyle, liabilities, risk and investment. Her team emphasizes stability and asset protection to help clients manage today’s volatile markets. The team communicates actively before big decisions are made, and works to anticipate the changes and challenges in their lives to better serve them.
5. Russ Cesari
Bank: Northwest Federal Credit Union TPM: LPL Financial Location: Herndon, Virginia 2017 AUM: $621.3 million 2016 AUM: $551.9 million 2017 Production: $5.3 million 2016 Production: $5.2 million Years in industry: 16
Wealth management is a second career for Russ Cesari, and in many ways, the most rewarding, he says. His first career at a large international corporation developed his business and management skills and led to an interest in the markets and financial assets. As an advisor, many of his clients are federal employees with international responsibilities, so their similar experiences mesh and have helped form trusting relationships. Earning clients’ trust by providing objective and personalized advice has always been his top priority, and paves the way for open communication.
4. Paul Stetter Jr.
Bank: Fulton Financial Advisors TPM: Raymond James Location: Ephrata, Pennsylvania 2017 AUM: $234.9 million 2016 AUM: $200.5 million 2017 Production: $2.2 million 2016 Production: $1.9 million Years in industry: 15
Paul Stetter feels that his empathy for clients’ needs and the ability to customize a plan helps him deliver a cutting edge service to clients. He’s not just an advisor, he says, but also a confidant to clients’ children, grandchildren and parents. Through multigenerational connections and technology offered through his broker-dealer, he can help them stay connected and increase their knowledge of the financial landscape. This has helped him increase their education of the markets and has helped to maximize their overall understanding of where they may need to make adjustments over time.
3. David Darshan
Bank: Citibank TPM: N/A Location: New York 2017 AUM: $217.4 million 2016 AUM: $182.6 million 2017 Production: $1.9 million 2016 Production: $1.5 million Years in industry: 14
Looking back on his 18 years in the financial industry, David Darshan says his focus and passion is in portfolio management. Helping clients define and plan for their financial goals is what gives him great joy. To help, he relies on the resources of Citibank, both technology and colleagues.
2. Christopher Barron
Bank: Citibank TPM: N/A Location: New York 2017 AUM: $269.3 million 2016 AUM: $213.2 million 2017 Production: $1.9 million 2016 Production: $1.4 million Years in industry: 15
Christopher Barron’s team prioritizes the "why" when meeting with clients. They help determine clients’ short- and long-term goals, and take the time to explain why their recommendations are consistent with clients’ objectives. He says this leads to deeper relationships and peace of mind for clients. Due to this approach, most of his referrals come from existing clients.
1. Brock Kidd
Bank: Pinnacle Bank TPM: Raymond James Location: Nashville, Tennessee 2017 AUM: $363.4 million 2016 AUM: $273.5 million 2017 Production: $2.1 million 2016 Production: $1.6 million Years in industry: 22
Our top advisor this year is Brock Kidd from Pinnacle Bank. Kidd makes it a point to get to know clients on a deep level, attending dinner parties with each other, not to mention weddings of one another's relatives. These types of connections cultivate a lasting relationship, he says. Case in point: During the market downfall in 2008, more of his clients called to ask how he was holding up, rather than about their accounts, he says.
Read more in-depth about Kidd's strategy as an advisor in our profile as part of this package of stories.