That led Prediletto to intern at several firms while he was in college, from Paine Webber to Prudential and finally Merrill Lynch in Florida. It was that final stint that led to a job offer the day after he graduated. That position led to a fateful business trip to Atlanta that inspired Prediletto to move. It was on that trip that Prediletto met a fellow Merrill Lynch advisor who told him: ""Move your business here. It's boom town,'" he remembers. "It took me a couple of minutes to say okay." He joined that team as a junior advisor, and then 2002 brought a game-changing event: that advisor and another advisor outside of the team landed one of the largest home improvement retailers in the country as a client. They joined forces to form a team, which today includes 13 equity partners.
Those equity partners also include Erik Bjerke, who is number one on this year's list; Chad Pigg, who lands the number three slot; and Bradley Cull, who is number six. This is Prediletto's second time on On Wall Street's Top 40 list. The team has more than $100 billion under management mostly from the large mega cap companies it serves. The team is also building a small mid cap-focused team.
For Prediletto, who focuses on CEOs and CFOs, that means that every day is different. It could include conference calls with C-suite executives at a major beverage company to talk about their individual stock plans, planning with an executive to unwind his or her stock position over an extended period of time or doing a presentation on stock option analysis. The team emphasizes providing the same level of service from the CEO to the janitor of a company, Prediletto says.
And working closely with those corporations often leads to developing strong relationships with individual clients and their families. Prediletto currently works with about 80 families. "We start from a consultative standpoint with an individual, a family, and you build that trust over time, and those are really strong relationships," he says. "We don't lose a lot of clients around here."
The team retains clients by assigning two senior partners to each relationship, as well as a lead banker for all of their banking needs, an investment analyst who keeps them abreast of the latest research, a portfolio manager and an estate and insurance specialist and a client associate who directs their inquiries to the right team member. "It's just being proactive and persistent, defining client or prospect needs early on, and really doing everything it takes to make that person feel loved and cared about, that someone is looking out for their best interest," Prediletto says.
— Lorie Konish
Chad Pigg, 36
Merrill Lynch / Atlanta
$3.28 billion in assets
Chad Pigg likes to make it sound easy.
Whether he's talking about Merrill Lynch's 2008 merger with Bank of America or pulling in new accounts, Pigg hesitates to call it a challenge. "Is it a challenge to go after new business? It is," Pigg says, "But when you take out the challenging component and you find where warm opportunities exist, and you can leverage existing relationships, it's a great service model and it betters our chances of winning business."
That philosophy, and his ability to utilize his existing resources, has served Pigg well since he left his position as a senior accountant at KPMG six years ago to join Merrill Lynch. Starting out as a sole practitioner, he scored his first big account by focusing on what he knew—targeting small CPA practices. "I understood their level of education and experience and technical lingo," Pigg explains. "That made me a good fit for those initial conversations. So I was able to capture beginning success taking that approach."
His practice mushroomed out from there as he became increasingly interested in the corporate side of the house, such as who is managing the 401(k) plan, what the company was doing in terms of cash management and would they be interested in a deferred compensation plan. He continued adding on clients and services until he found himself on a team at Merrill Lynch's Buckhead office in Atlanta, responsible for entire corporations as well as the individual clients that come out of those relationships.
"To me it just made more sense to approach these opportunities from a corporate perspective, which would automatically and inherently feed into individual wealth opportunities downstream," he says.
Now part of a team of 300 corporate and institutional-focused advisors, Pigg focuses on offering retirement benefits services, defined contributions, equity awards, such as stock options, restricted stocks and investment consulting. He makes decisions about what to offer companies based on the company's goals, investment policy and risk tolerance, and brings his knowledge as a former accountant the table. "Having a very good understanding of financial statements, the balance sheet, income statements, cash flows, so on and so forth as well as auditing background afforded me the opportunity to understand how processes within the company worked form the internal controls and management perspective," Pigg says.