I'm a native of the Philadelphia area. My father owned a Burger King in the late 1960s, and when I was 7, he put me in charge of the burgers entering the broiler. I had to stand on a milk crate because I wasn't tall enough to reach the conveyer belt.
I was a teenager in the 1970s when the Philadelphia Flyers won two Stanley Cups. Street hockey was big, and I spent a lot of time playing. As a youth, I was introduced to securities when I overheard my father on a cold call from a broker. My dad explained a little about investing and securities, which intrigued me. Then, at Susquehanna University I participated in the typical stock market game.
After graduating with a degree in finance in 1982, I worked for a bank in Philadelphia as a credit analyst and realized banking wasn't for me. There were several regional financial services firms in town, and I interviewed with Janney Montgomery Scott, which offered me a job even though I had no sales experience.
Rick Sander, my manager, taught me three things that I tell prospective advisors today. One is to establish 200 client relationships in the first two years. The second is to become a CFP, so you'll be in a better position to provide valued advice. The third is to remember that there are several ways to become successful in the business as long as you act with integrity and work hard.
I was an advisor for 10 years and a producing branch manager for another 10. At the end of 2004, Jerry Lombard, the head of the private client group, asked me to become a regional manager, which I did for three years. In 2008, I was promoted to my current position to improve communications with the private client group and improve the coordination of resources that support our clients, advisors and business plan. For example, we've developed desktop tools, such as our own dashboard, and apps to help our advisors.
I learned some of my best lessons early in my career. When I started, I was cold-calling and stuffing envelopes. I was on the bullpen floor when I heard that an older advisor had passed away, and I knew he had relationships from my hometown. I asked my branch manager if I could contact one of his clients. That client gave me lots of business, but I didn't know that he asked for big discounts.
Ten years later, I was a producing branch manager when he transferred his big account to another firm without telling me. I asked him to transfer his remaining accounts. It was one of my best career decisions because it freed me to build my business more effectively.
After a 10-year hiatus, I bought a new Road King motorcycle and am on the road again. I'm also 65 pounds lighter since committing to physical fitness and healthy eating three years ago.
As Told to Pat Olsen