No. 33: Jim Detterick

Firm: Morgan Stanley

AUM: $606.67 million

Location: New York

Age: 38

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.

Jim Detterick describes his entry into a career as a financial advisor as a “beta test.” He started out working on the institutional side, helping clients develop their 401(k) and other defined contribution plans. He also worked with major corporations on their equity compensation arrangements.

Then came a move into the private client business, and the so-called beta testing. His firm might have wanted to see how he would do, but Detterick was doing some testing on his own. “Initially, they had to convince me that this would a good fit for my future,” he says.

What convinced him? “I was attracted to the entrepreneurial aspects,” Detterick says. “I loved the concept of taking my background and my experience, then applying them to an advisory practice that’s like running a business. Any success you have goes directly to your income, so what you do impacts your own bottom line.”

On the wealth management side, Detterick finds himself wearing many hats. “You get to know what it’s like to be your own new business development manager,” he says, “your own HR manager, and so on. We have a great team here, and part of my role is to find the right projects and the right incentives to get the most from our people.”

Detterick’s practice is still heavily involved in the benefits area, as his team advises companies on their plans and also provides wealth management services to key executives at such companies. “The ever-evolving regulatory environment has become a challenge, especially lately,” Detterick says. “You have to keep educating yourself, building intellectual capital that you can deliver to your clients, in the form of good advice.”

That advice must be tailored to both companies seeking help with their executive compensation and employee benefits as well as to high-income individuals. “For key executives,” says Detterick, “concentrated portfolios are usually a major issue.” They typically have a large portion of their net worth tied up in company stock, and managing that exposure can help increase the chances they’ll meet their financial goals.