No. 1 PETER PRINCI, 37
Morgan Stanley, Boston
All young advisors can relate to the difficulties of starting out, whether it's the long hours spent prospecting or trying to earn the trust of wealthy clients. But what separates these top advisors is that they have been able to overcome the second major challenge to their career, the plateau, says this year's #1 top advisor under 40, Peter Princi.
"Everybody can talk about early stages and getting over those initial hurdles of earning trust and becoming a center of influence, and that is the hardest thing you do," says Princi, who makes the Top 40 list for his fifth time. "But you see a lot of business hit a plateau at some point, and it's really hard to get through certain levels of assets and continue that momentum."
For Princi, that moment came just over five years ago. He had built a client base and several hundred million in assets, but between the hours he spent researching the market, doing due diligence on portfolio managers and serving clients, he didn't have any more resources to grow.
Rather than scaling back or settling into his success, Princi raised his asset minimums and started hiring assistants and certified financial planners. His goal was to expand his practice by focusing on offering financial planning services for investors with $2 million or more of investable assets. He delegated the smaller accounts with under $500,000 in assets, many of whom had been with him since the start, to other members of his nine-person team, who continue to provide them with strategies and outlooks. Princi focuses on the ultra-wealthy. "It is very important that every client feels like they are the only client," Princi says.
Princi is lead strategist on his team. Many of the other teammates are in non-producing roles as analysts or estate planners. Princi usually spends about 55 of his 75-hour work week reading, researching and meeting with portfolio managers. He spends the rest of the time speaking to clients and prospects.
Princi's accounts include business executives, business owners, real estate moguls and professional baseball players. (Princi worked with the New York Mets for two years after graduating.)
While uncovering new investment opportunities is a big part of his practice, Princi's team focuses heavily on financial planning and most of his revenue comes from fees charged on assets under management. For example, when a client recently looked to move into a posh retirement community, Princi and his team were not worried so much about where the money would come from, but about how it would change the client's lifestyle.
"We told him it was a great lifestyle move and wouldn't put a dent in how he lives," Princi says. "To hear the excitement in the client's voice is powerful."