Top 10 Regional Advisors Under 40

On Wall Street's new annual ranking of the top ten regional advisors under age 40 shows what some of the best advisors from firms like RBC and Raymond James are doing to grow their businesses.

Like our Top 40 Advisors Under Age 40, these ten leading regional advisors are ranked by their annual production.

These advisors form a diverse group. They operate in big cities like New York and small ones like Peoria, Ill. One of the top ten studied poultry science and more than one advisor started in the business by cold-calling clients.

The leading advisor on the list boasted annual production of more than $5 million.

See who made the list and click through to learn about the success stories, best practices and future plans of these industry leaders. You can see a single-page version here.

10. Frank "Chip" Munn, Hilliard Lyons

Age: 39
Production: $1.012 million
AUM: $117 million

Frank "Chip" Munn says the biggest obstacles he overcame when he entered the business were his youth and lack of background in finance. A graduate of Clemson University, Munn became an advisor when he was 23-years-old, after having spent a year as a middle school teacher.

"I had to learn really quick," he says.

Munn's interest in financial planning dated back to high school, when his grandfather, who owned a 1,600-acre farm, passed away.

"He didn't have a very thorough estate plan," Munn says. "So we were subject to a lot of estate taxes. I saw my family deal with that. When I decided to leave education, I decided that estate planning was something that I wanted to get into… I didn't want to see other families go through some of the stuff that we did."

Munn joined father–son advisors Bob and Scott Mitchell in Florence, S.C. They joined Hilliard Lyons in 2002. Specialization has been the team's key to success, Munn says. It's allowed team members to focus on their core strengths while meeting the expectations of clients.

"We've taken the approach of a multi-disciplinary practice… We all do something a little different for the same group of clients," he says.

His clients are high net worth individuals, most of whom are doctors, small business owners and corporate executives. Munn says that though his clients come from different professions, they all expect customized solutions and a concierge level of service.

The team, which is currently comprised of three advisors and six assistants, plans on growing their footprint in South Carolina to serve more clients.

Munn says his greatest accomplishment thus far is the partnership he's built with his fellow team members.

"When we became a team in 1999, teams weren't cool the way they are now. Our branch manager thought we were crazy," Munn says.

He adds, "I'm really proud, honestly, of the model and structure that we have built."

9. Michael Berger, RBC Wealth Management-U.S.

Age: 37
Production: $1.3 million
AUM: $300 million

Berger, who became an advisor a week after graduating from college, says the biggest obstacle he overcame was perceptions about his own age. Not appearing as seasoned as other advisors was difficult, he says.

Berger, who studied marketing and finance at the University of Maryland, overcame this hurdle in part through hard work and excelling at the opportunities presented to him.

"You just be yourself," Berger says. "I'm not all things to all people, but I think the way I work and the way I manage money – I definitely think there's a piece of everyone's asset allocation that I can do a good job in. Even if I just get a start with that, then I can definitely grow over time."

Berger, who is from Dix Hills, N.Y., started his career in 2001, joining his brother-in-law, who was an advisor at Smith Barney. "He introduced me to the business," Berger says.

They moved to RBC in 2013, and their New York-based practice has grown to include a third advisor and three sales assistants.

Berger became an advisor because of the personal nature of the business and the entrepreneurial opportunities.

"You're kind of running a business within a business. Each advisor has their own philosophy, their own niche, and their own clients," he says. "So you're kind of your own entrepreneur and I like that aspect of it."

Berger primarily works with high-net-worth clients. His growth has been drive by referrals from those same clients. He plans to continue growing his business this year, but Berger adds he's mindful of how far he's already come.

"I'm humble about this. I started basically from zero. I remember cold calling people at their kitchen tables," Berger says. "To go from that to having a business that is based on referrals, and the people I deal with recommend me – in that respect I'm very proud of that."

8. Bryan Pedersen, RBC Wealth Management

Age: 39
Production: $1.496
AUM: $114 million

For Bryan Pedersen, succession planning was a family affair. The 39-year-old Pedersen always figured to follow in his father's footsteps working in the financial industry, so after working a few years in the back office of RBC's Minneapolis operation after college, he returned home to Cheyenne, Wyoming to join Pedersen Investment Group, his dad's team at RBC Wealth Management.

Six years ago, his father decided to retire, and made his son head of the team. After that, the elder Pedersen began a "phased retirement," transitioning about $1 million a month over the course five years from his brokerage accounts to the fee-based accounts the younger Pedersen prefers to manage.

The changeover also involved a trimming down the 700-client list to just 120 today. Pedersen says, "You can't hope to really know 700 clients. With 120 I know them well -- who their kids are, where they go to school, and what the family's plans are."

Meanwhile, as the client list shrank, AUM has grown to a current $120 million.

"Cheyenne is a small town in a small state," says Pedersen, "and the best way to work is to stick with people you get along with."

Pedersen's average client has $600,000 in investible assets, but as to having a cut-off for new clients, he says, "My cut-off is: are they nice and will they be easy to work with." He explains, "It may sound funny, but a hard-to-work-with high-net-worth client takes an inordinate amount of time, while a person with few assets who is nice and easy to work with takes no time at all."

7. Chris Calvelli, Baird

Age: 39
Production: $1.549 million
AUM: $587 million

Chris Calvelli traces his start in the financial advising business to an unusual detour. He'd been working in Baird's back office for a year when, at 25, a senior manager asked him if he'd be willing to work in the company's "loaned executive" program as a fundraiser for United Way. Baird needed someone to take on the job, which involved talking with local company executives and boards about supporting United Way's campaign.

"I jumped at the offer," Calvelli says.

It turned out to be a great move. "Working for United Way for a year was a perfect jumping off point for a young guy going into financial advising," Calvelli says. "I wound up getting some good initial traction with people who became early clients."

Calvelli, with Baird his whole career, became a solo advisor after his United Way experience, but was soon invited to join a team headed by a senior advisor, David Epstein. A respected advisor had just died in a tragic accident and Epstein's group had been asked to take over the dead colleague's book. Calvelli was brought in to help handle the added client load.

He says Epstein became his mentor, helping him learn about dealing with investments and clients.

Most of Calvelli's clients since then have been referrals from existing clients. He says, "We focus on seeing what we can do for our clients to ensure their quality of life and on generational management. My experience is that happy clients bring in more clients."

6. Andrew Fowler, Raymond James & Associates

Age: 38
Production: $1.554 million
AUM: $210 million

Fowler joined the industry because he wanted to work in finance and be a small business owner. As an employee advisor, he gets all the benefits of being an owner without the headaches.

"I don't have to go through the headaches if the computers aren't working or the doors aren't opening. Raymond James does that," says Fowler, who is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Free to focus on what matters most to him, his clients, Fowler has built his business primarily through referrals. Today, he's on a five-advisor team.

"The great thing about this business is that I get to be around successful people, which I like. They're people that are busy and that need help. They don't have time to be successful in their own careers and manage their financial lives at the same time," says Fowler, who has been in the business since 2002.

His biggest challenge, Fowler says, is managing client expectations with their risk tolerance. He uses the firm's technology, including its Goal Planning and Monitoring (GPM) software, to help clients identify their goals and their level of risk tolerance.

"Our clients know on any given day, 24 hours a day, where they need to be based on their plan," Fowler says of the software. "It helps when there is volatility in the markets to look at that and say, ok you're below your goals or you're on track."

Fowler's goals for this year include growing his business more, and getting more clients to use the GPM.

"All of our clients have plans, but there is a big difference between a paper copy of a plan versus a plan that literally updates every single day," he says. "I think that's pretty powerful."

5. Sean Fitzpatrick, Raymond James & Associates

Age: 35
Production: $1.636 million
AUM: $124 million

Sean Fitzpatrick started his advisory career the traditional way by cold-calling prospective clients.

"I was young and I didn't have anything. The fear of failure is a great motivator," says Fitzpatrick, who joined Raymond James & Associates in Houston after studying marketing and finance at DePaul University.

Fitzpatrick says he made 500 calls a day in the beginning.

"Hopefully you get someone to talk to you. At the time, I was never trying to sell anything, I was just trying to listen to their concerns. It was a poor market in 2002. And people just wanted to talk, to vent. It was a way to form a relationship, and they've become long lasting relationships," he says.

His persistence paid off, but he notes how hard it is for a newcomer to survive in this industry. "If you know the business, and you stick with it and work harder enough, you'll be able to make it. It's still a difficult business to make it, and the success rate for new hires out of college is still low."

Today, his business is largely driven by referrals, many coming from his original clients.
Fitzpatrick has had a lifelong interest in finance, having grown up within a family that was steeped in news about the markets.

"It was already part of the family discussions at our house. CNBC was always on the TV all the time," he says.

He was attracted to the advisory business in part because of its human element. It's fundamentally a relationship business, he says. Fitzpatrick's goals for this year are to continue growing his business and helping his existing clients.

"I talk with my clients all the time. In a given day, I might talk to 25 or 30 clients," he says. "Sometimes that's a 2 minutes call to check in and see how their weekend was. But I find that things surface when you do that. And when you're aware of what's going on in their life, you're able to get in front of things and help them."

4. Matt Glatz, Raymond James & Associates

Age: 39
Production: $2.141 million
AUM: $240 million

Peoria, Ill., has three distinctions for Matt Glatz: it's his hometown, where he went to university and where he founded his growing advisory practice.

Glatz, who majored in economics and marketing at Bradley University, was drawn to the advisory business because of the independence it offered and the opportunity to work directly and closely with clients.

He attributes his successes in part to two factors. First, developing a niche focus on employees of the manufacturer Caterpillar, whose headquarters is in Peoria.

"I had to get to know all the compensation plans, from stock options to deferred comps, all the different things that executives had to navigate," he says.
Referrals has helped grow his book of business.

"It's all been word of mouth. It's come from our very best advocates, our clients," he says.
The second pillar is his team, which is comprised of five advisors, including Glatz.

"Everyone has their own strengths and expertise, and that helps us serve clients better than we would individually. That's the best part about this team, we help each other out and share successes," he explains.

That specialization and cooperative spirit has propelled the group's growth. When he brought on his first partner in 2005, his book of business was about $80 million. Today the team has a combined AUM of $600 million.

"I always want to give God the honor and credit. And I'm really blessed and fortunate to have really great partners, staff and clients," he says.

3. Kyle Davis, Raymond James & Associates

Production: $2.56 million
AUM: $215 million
Age: 39

Many advisors study finance or marketing before getting into the business. Kyle Davis took a different path; he majored in poultry science.

"Yeah, chickens," says Davis. "Long story short, I love animals. I worked at veterinary clinic in high school."

A student at the University of Georgia, Davis originally intended to become a veterinarian, but later decided that he wanted to work in finance, being inspired in part by his father, who worked in banking.

Davis became a sales assistant in Atlanta at Morgan Stanley, working with four different brokers. The experience enabled him to closely watch how successful advisors operate, he says.

"When I became an advisor, I didn't need to learn the systems, or the computers because I knew it already. I knew how the processes like how to get a client on board," says Davis, who became an advisor in 1999.

His biggest challenges at that time were building a network and overcoming perceptions about his age, Davis says. He made it over the first hurdle by doing whatever it took to meet people, including cold calling and hosting seminars. He overcame the latter obstacle through persistent persuasion.

"I literally told them that I don't have a big book so the personal attention I can give you is more. Likewise I'm much more keen on technology and able to stay on top of things a bit better," he says. "I tried to take a disadvantage and turn it to an advantage."

Davis moved to Morgan Keegan in 2007, which was later acquired by Raymond James. His three-year-old partnership with another advisor, who focuses on estate and tax planning, has enabled Davis to nearly double his business.

"I can have a laser-like focus on building my business, taking care of my existing clients and making sure that the investments I am putting my clients into are the correct ones," he says.

His business is now largely driven by referrals from existing clients, who are high net worth individuals and small business owners. Davis says he keeps a running list of his major goals for the year. Top of the list this year? Spending more time with his wife and two kids.

"After having had some success – I've got a great team around me, great clients – I can take a step back and enjoy the fruits of my labor," Davis says.

"I am making this year more dedicated to my family."

2. Nancy Osmond Popovich, Baird

Age: 39
Production: $2.74 million
AUM: $342 million

Popovich says when she first applied to a brokerage office in Washington, part of a big national firm, the manager interviewing her "honed in on the idea that I was someone who 'wanted to save the world.'"

He had that part right, she concedes. But then he said, "Don't you think that adults should all have a comfortable retirement?"

It wasn't a hard sell. She was raised by a single parent -- her mother -- and lived together with her grandmother when her mom became terminally ill. She found it difficult watching her grandmother struggling to live on her grandfather's pension, which had no inflation adjustment.

After working at the brokerage she joined a group of 20 advisors and planners at The Wise Investor Group, which went on to join Baird.

She says she is involved in charity work and helping her clients with their charitable giving. And she views her portfolio management in the same way, enjoying the idea of helping people plan better and save more.

"Most of our clients thinking outside themselves regarding their money," she says. "For some, it's helping animals or empowering poor women abroad. For others, it's funding tuition for children and grandchildren. These aren't people who show off by buying fancy a Mercedes. They brag about how many miles they have on their odometers!"

That hasn't stopped her from earning $2.74 million in production last year, but she says she's actually prouder about a fundraising group she set up last year to raise money for new mammography software for a local hospital. Hoping to raise $33,000 by asking people, including colleagues and clients, to pledge $1,000 a year for five years, she pulled in $143,000.

1. Adam Estes, Hilliard Lyons

Age: 37
Production: $5.25 million
AUM: $825 million

Adam Estes, head of The Estes Group of Hilliard Lyons in Bloomington, Ind., and this year’s top-ranked broker on the OWS “Regional 40 Under 40” list, has a challenging clientele. Bloomington is home to Indiana University Bloomington, so many of his clients are actually moving targets, given the propensity of people in college towns to move with some frequency.

That hasn’t stopped Estes, though, who says that by nurturing relationships with his 500 clients, he and his two partners in the group have ended up hanging onto many of those who move — even those who move hundreds or thousands of miles away.

“I have very loyal clients,” he says. “Geographical changes don’t seem to hurt us.”

It does mean spending a lot more time on the phone, and sometimes even on the road. “I’ll try to combine my travel with work,” he explains. “For example, I’m heading out to Scottsdale, where my best friend is on the PGA tour. I have about 10 A-list clients out there, so I’m getting them tickets to the game. We’ll be entertaining out there too, so I’ll get to see them all in an informal setting.” He also tries to see distant clients when they travel to Bloomington to visit friends and family or to take in an Indiana U. game.

The other side of close relationships is client loyalty, which explains why he has “never had to prospect” for clients. As he notes, “All my new clients are referrals from existing clients.”
Estes, 37, who took over leadership of The Estes Group from his father a few years ago, says he tries to keep in touch with all 500 of his clients by adhering to a schedule of two-to-three appointments per day — a pace he says allows him to see everyone two or three times a year, and that has helped him grow his AUM, currently at $825 million, by an average of 15% per year even through the first trying decade of the new century.