"Youth is the opportunity to do something and to become somebody." — Theodore T. Munger, clergyman and writer.

In one way this month's issue is all about youth and the fresh perspective that comes with it. But in another way this is about experience because our latest list of the Top 40 Under 40 includes many repeat winners from previous years. They have weathered the storms of the financial crisis of 2008 and before that the Tech Wreck of the early 2000s. They have seen boom times but lately they have built and maintained businesses in spite of a global recession and rapidly changing technologies that are challenging economies around the world.

This year hasn't been kind, and 2012 may be just as tough. Unemployment is still jarringly high and the real estate recession is still a reality for too many homeowners. We've watched world markets seesaw, the credit rating of the United States be downgraded, banks stocks slide, and Greece and Italy change governments in response to their massive debt problems and the austerity measures forced upon them by the European Union. While the markets react and absorb all this news, investors look to their financial advisors for some comfort and to make sense of it all.

What stuck me as we prepared this list is just how much the advisors here discussed the importance of "listening" to clients. Of course, they have the technical expertise. Yes, they have teams who can offer specialized knowledge in various areas such as estate planning.

However, the so-called "soft" people skills no longer take a back seat to the harder disciplines. They simply cannot. You have to know your client to properly serve them. Whether it is engaging the business school alumni in order to get some expertise on investments in another part of the world that a client is interested in, or helping a customer's child get an internship, these advisors are doing more than just looking at the numbers. They are listening to their clients' needs. And, the bottom line is that the best and the brightest financial advisors—young or not so young—are taking care of their clients.

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