No. 3: Chad Pigg
Firm: Merrill Lynch
AUM: $3.28 billion
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.
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 from the internal controls and management perspective," Pigg says.
Pigg's goal is to streamline and simplify the advisory process to reduce the burden on a company's internal administration. Pigg jumped into the role in 2008 as the downturn left many companies short staffed. "Today I feel like this is not even a job," he says. "I'm so passionate about what I do that I wake up every day very excited to face another day with the profession."