No. 7 SEAN YU, 36
Morgan Stanley Pasadena, Calif.
Sean Yu's career epitomizes the level of persistence and resilience required of young financial advisors. Yu, who moved to the United States from Taiwan when he was 13, had just earned his graduate degree from the University of Chicago when he stumbled on his career.
"I googled 'Morgan Stanley,' and there was something about a financial advisory job," he recalls. "I had no idea what this job was about."
He did well in the interview and passed the Series 7 exam after spending just over a week studying. Then came the hard part. "Prospecting turned out to be a lot more difficult," Yu says. "The hardest part is getting rejected."
Yu soon found himself working 100 hours a week, attending networking sessions and giving up to 50 presentations a year to professional gatherings in order to find clients. He reminded himself that it would be worth it.
"It was a sense that I didn't want to fail in this business. I knew deep down that if I could make it, it was going to be one of the best jobs in the world," he says.
Now, Yu is down to about five or 10 presentations per year. He hosts small financial planning seminars for his clients, most of whom are first- or second-generation Chinese- and Taiwanese-American families who have saved "nickel and dime" to become wealthy, he says.
Yu also likes to focus on his clients' children. Although they do not have enough assets to become full-time clients, Yu takes them on because it enhances his relationship with the parents. Using some of the parents' assets, he has the children build small portfolios, allowing them to choose stocks as long as they explain why.
"Ideally, I don't want them to make too much money," Yu jokes. "In 2009, we doubled their money and then the kids started to think it's very easy to make money in the stock market. That's not exactly what I had in mind as a life lesson for them."