Firm: Merrill Lynch
AUM: $1.37 billion
Location: New York
Note: This profile is part of a special series devoted to On Wall Street’s Top 40 Under 40 ranking for 2012. Every day we take a look at an advisor who made the list to find out the secrets of their success.
When Merrill Lynch financial advisor Charles Balducci looks at the financial advisory business today, he sees many successful teams at work. “That wasn’t always the case,” he says. “When we started, there were only a handful of teams offering financial advice. The whole concept was new. It was not endorsed at our firm and we weren’t coached to form a team.”
Balducci’s team includes Eric Snyder, a college fraternity brother, who ties with Balducci to land on this list. They teamed up 14 years ago and now lead the Snyder/Balducci Group, overseeing about $2 billion in client assets.
“We saw different but complementary skills,” Balducci says of their inspiration to team up. “It made sense to combine them. We’re still working well together, and we’re still best friends.”
Balducci says that Snyder excels at running the operations side of the business. “My skills are in client acquisition and in certain specialized transactions, such as hedging, derivatives, currencies, large lines of credit, advanced estate planning, and strategies for concentrated stock positions,” Balducci says.
Team-building is still a vital part of Balducci’s advisory practice. “We have built a network of lawyers, accountants, and investment bankers to work with our clients,” he says. “We encourage these professionals to meet with each other if they’re working with the same client. In this vein, we can ensure that communication among these professionals is seamless.”
In fact, Balducci and his team organize periodic meetings among clients and the professionals in their network. “We all get together in the same room and discuss investments, taxes [and] specific business issues,” Balducci says. “We have received excellent feedback from these meetings. Clients know we have their best interests in mind.”
Extending the teamwork principle still further, Balducci says that his group works with other Merrill Lynch advisors on occasion. “Some standalone advisors may not be as experienced working with ultra-high-net-worth families as we are,” he says. “We’re comfortable in these situations—we know it won’t be our first rodeo. So we’ve been able to close new clients for these advisors or help them retain existing clients.”