STEPHEN VIETS

  • Managing Director, Market Manager
  • Wells Fargo Advisors
  • Las Vegas
  • Number of Advisors: 100
  • Branch AUM: $6 billion

Part strategist and part cheerleader, Stephen Viets is a three-time Top 10 branch manager. Viets says that the job also requires a diplomat's tact. "It's all about handling insecurities and misunderstanding," he says.
Above and beyond the daily performance targets and machinations of the financial markets, Viets sees his job as dealing with the delicate balance of personalities that make up a highly charged financial environment. By using his study of clinical psychology and his love of chess to see the myriad possibilities of personal interactions, Viets tries to "insinuate myself into situations—not reacting—and find out what both sides are looking for."

Viets, an Army brat, credits his time in the Air Force with helping his management start at Paine Webber, Prudential Securities, and later Wachovia, which morphed into Wells Fargo.

Viets says the financial climate last year was the worst he'd seen in scores of years. Since then, he's brought in 11 people and business is up 25% this year, due in part to efforts by advisors to reach the needs of the community. Advisors are encouraged to do charitable work, which they get credit for with the firm. "We spend a lot of time and money in the community," Viets says. "To us, this breeds good will."

The challenge for Viets is to find fresh talent. "We do not see a flow of younger talent wanting to come in" to the advisory field, he says. This may be because of the pressure and a compensation structure that can scare off young prospects who don't see the longterm earnings potential.

Viets says he finds more potential in professionals in their 30s—former business owners, teachers, clergy. Ministers have proven to be especially strong candidates, he says, because they have the ability to "communicate the benefits of an intangible."

Viets still depends on a daily trip to the gym. "There's a 30- pound weight on my desk, and I do curls when I'm stressed," he says. Looking ahead, Viets says, he has no plans to exchange the 30-pound weight for anything smaller, or for that matter, larger.

ROLE MODEL: Bruce Siegel, who was at Drexel Burnham in the 1980s and was famous for “cutting the deal.”

FAVORITE QUOTE: “Do not forget that the advisors pay the bills.”

FIRST JOB: Mowed lawns and delivered newspapers. Later worked at Wendy’s with his father.

HOMETOWN: Born in London (“Army Brat”) and later on lived on Long Island and in Queens, NY

HOBBIES: Chess and reading