No. 7: Gregory Hersch
AUM: $2.06 billion
Location: New York
Note: This profile is part of a special series devoted to On Wall Streets 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.
Gregory Hersch, who takes a position on On Wall Street's Top 40 list for the third year in a row, credits his success as a financial advisor in part to his ability to seeing the big picture when opportunities arise.
Hersch leveraged that skill while working with founders of a private company who were given stock from a public company that was acquiring that business. While banks typically do not like to lend against restricted stock, Hersch saw the potential opportunity that working with those clients could bring the firm's investment bank in the future. He then worked tirelessly convince senior leadership to provide those clients with liquidity. That included coordinating different parts of the firm, including its credit and mortgage groups, to also get on board with that goal.
"I am very good at seeing the bigger picture and not getting caught up in the near-term noise," Hersch says. "That allows me to avoid running into a lot of the land mines that I think advisors do in the business."
One thing Hersch says he tells all young advisors who solicit his advice on how to improve: become a better listener. "If you don't listen well in this business, you're going to make mistakes," Hersch says. "If there's one thing that you can do to immediately improve the trajectory of your business, it's just to work on listening." Hersch works with 40 family clients, each with a net worth of $20 million or more. And he is the lead financial advisor on his five-person team.
Hersch's investment strategy focuses on alternative investments. When the crisis hit in 2008, he says, some of those alternative investment strategies lost significantly less than the broader indices, while others actually made money. In the past few years, clients have wanted to balance those investments with other strategies that emphasize liquidity. That has led to diversified portfolios including preferred stocks, mortgage-backed securities, high yield and floating rate funds. Hersch strives to differentiate his wealth management practice by presenting unique investment strategies to current and prospective clients.
"These are some of the most sought after families in the country," Hersch says. "They get shown a lot of products, so I have to work doubly hard to source investment opportunities within alternatives that are both unique and are going to perform." After 12 years in the business, Hersch says that taking on new clients comes down to whether they have a mutual understanding. "My clients come to me wealthy," he says. "My job is to keep them wealthy. So much like a doctor; first, do no harm."