No. 40: Annemarie Thomas

Firm: Wells Fargo

AUM: $466.15

Location: Carlsbad, Calif.

Age: 36

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.

“There are few women advisors in this business,” Annemarie Thomas has discovered. Consequently, female clients often choose her as their advisor. “My women clients range from young ones, trying to build their net worth, to elderly widows,” she says. “I’m a big believer in the idea that everybody deserves sound financial advice.”

Thomas appreciates the variety this client base brings into her office. “I can talk with some clients about the health issues they face while getting older,” she says. “I also can talk with other clients about meeting someone for the first time, love, marriage, and starting a family.”

If Thomas works with some younger clients, does she insist on a certain amount of assets to manage? “I don’t have a minimum investment amount,” she says, “but I can be picky about the clients I’ll work with. I want to feel confident that they’re committed to investing regularly. I encourage people to get into good habits, early in life. Once you get started, it’s just something you do, like taking vitamins.”

Thomas perceives a “sea change” in the way women approach their finances. “Yes, I have sat down with a widow was old enough to have lived through the Depression and taught her how to write a check, because her late husband had always done that,” Thomas says. “Mainly, though, women are not second-class clients any longer. They’re equal in earnings capacity, and in their role in the household. I tell my male colleagues that if you represent a married couple and talk only to the husband but not to the wife, you’ve already lost them as clients.”

Following her own advice, Thomas includes both spouses in all communications when she advises a married couple. “I began working with one couple in their late 20s, who had just gotten married,” she says. “I still represent them, 12 years later, and they’ve been great clients. They have a child now, they take three vacation trips a year, including one to Europe, and they’re buying a second home.” Moreover, those clients are now just 39 and 40, so they are likely to have many more years of accumulating investment assets and relying upon Thomas for financial advice.