This $4.5M advisor courts UHNW clients on three continents

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This profile appeared earlier this year as part of On Wall Street's Top 40 Under 40. All details are as of Sept. 31, 2017. To see who else made the top 10, please click here.

In another life, Fulvio Urbinati could have been a linguist. The Morgan Stanley advisor speaks three languages — a skill which has certainly come in handy over the years. His book of business now spans three continents, including clients in Chile and Peru, the U.S. and Canada, and France and the U.K., he says.

Urbinati has made On Wall Street's Top 40 Under 40 list four times, ranking No. 5 on the most recent list. He manages $560 million in client assets and generates $4.5 million in revenue a year. Ninety percent of his ultrahigh-net-worth clients are international, and they all came from referrals. “I never did a cold call in my life,” he says.

Early in his career, Urbinati worked as a fixed-income trader with BNP Paribas before making the jump to financial planning in his native Brazil. The transition, he says, was the easy part. “The textbook stuff wasn’t the problem,” Urbinati says. “When you hit the road — and have to perform and bring in assets and manage — that’s when it becomes hard.”

Young and inexperienced, Urbinati says it took time to persuade clients to trust him with their money. “People with a lot of money aren’t always easy to convince,” Urbinati says. “It takes a few years to gain traction and be respected, and to prove yourself.”

He first joined partners Daniele Conci and Edouard Crepy at BNP Paribas in Miami before moving the team to Morgan Stanley in 2011. His book more than tripled since he made the move, he says.

To become successful in the HNW space, advisors have to understand well-heeled clients and especially their lofty expectations for their financial and personal lives, he says. “They have such a sense of urgency,” Urbinati says. “You really have to have the same DNA.”

Back in Brazil, Urbinati initially got his start in the financial business by following in his grandfather’s footsteps. He took a job at Banco Sudameris on the same day his grandfather — a longtime financial professional at the firm — passed away at the age of 96, he says.

“I try not to pay attention too much to these things,” he says. “For me, that was a message — some things are just meant to be.”

As for the future, Urbinati believes shifting his clients to discretionary accounts is the key to unlocking growth potential, he says.

“We are steering the ship,” Urbinati says. In the next 12 to 24 months, his team hopes to have most accounts managed on a discretionary basis. “It’s a pretty big ship,” he admits.

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