No. 25: Brad DeHond

Firm: Morgan Stanley

AUM: $702 million

Location: Chicago

Age: 37

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.

Although his involvement with clients spans a broad range of issues, Brad DeHondsays that financial planning is a misnomer for the way he generally practices.

“Typically, I work with clients with liquid net worth of $20 million or more,” DeHond says. “We’re not looking at how they’ll pay for college or how much they’ll be able to spend in retirement. At that level, those aren’t major concerns.”

In most cases, DeHond will work with a family. “I’ll meet with one person or with a married couple,” he says. “If the kids are older, I’ll have family conversations that include them as well.”

These conversations cover wealth management for ultra high net worth families. “That includes trusts, estate planning, the ownership structure of their assets, concentrated stock positions, estate tax and income tax,” DeHond says. “There has been a good bit of activity lately in the estate planning area.”

Such planning, DeHond says, is a departure from his practice in the 1990s, when he began his career. “Then, everyone wanted to talk about what stocks they owned. Now the focus is much more macro driven. On the investment side, there is less emphasis on products and more on finding the appropriate mix of the underlying strategies.”

DeHond’s ability to get exposure to various investments has increased dramatically. “If we wanted to put a client’s money into private equity or real estate, for example, we had a limited selection,” DeHond says. “If there was nothing available that you liked, there wasn’t much you could do. Now we have access to a wide variety of opportunities, internally and externally. If you want to put a client’s capital to work in, say, mezzanine debt, you can do it.”

When it comes to basic investments, DeHond is currently cautious about the bond market, wary that rising interest rates could create losses. “We’re keeping maturities short, putting some money into floating-rate debt and seeking credit anomalies that look attractive,” DeHond says. “If you stretch for yield, you can get burned so it’s better to live with low returns for awhile. That beats taking unnecessary risks with the supposedly safe portion of your portfolio.”