Program managers bridging gap in new world

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Program managers have a tough job. Ideally, they are a bridge between the bank and its wealth program. Many of them view their jobs as essentially taking care of the admin and regulatory work while letting the advisers deal with clients. But between the heightened competition from ultra-cheap robos and a herky-jerky implementation of the fiduciary rule, that idea of handling admin and regulatory work can be more hectic than ever. And when that’s taken care of, there’s the pesky talent shortage to manage.

To be sure, the idea of bank brokerage has always been a difficult balance to strike. The traditional business model, based on commissions and volume, is fast becoming obsolete. (See related InDepth story here.) But change is hard, and a lot of advisers don’t see the new day as an exciting challenge. They see it as something they did not sign up for.

While all bank programs are facing these issues, our annual Top 25 Program Managers ranking underscores the best in the channel. You can see our slideshow of these winners, as well as read more about their strategies and insights.

Our top manager this year (warning: spoiler alert) is Scott Jenner from Addison Avenue Investment Services, the investment division of First Tech Federal Credit Union. It serves some of the biggest tech firms, including HP, Agilent, Microsoft, Intel, Cisco and Amazon.

Jenner has been on our list several times, but never as the top manager. He said the biggest management challenge facing bank program managers now is working through what may, or may not, become of the proposed fiduciary rule and its impact on advisers.

Under Jenner’s leadership – he’s been with First Tech since 2006—the program saw a 22% increase in AUM, and a 16% increase in gross production over the last three years.

To compile our list, we once again used multiple variables and combined them into a weighted average. We streamlined the process a bit this year, using just 4 variables. Specifically, we considered team AUM; number of full-time, series-7 advisers that the program manager personally oversees; annual percentage growth in team production; and average production per adviser. (We used our own estimates of production-per-adviser based on numbers submitted in our nomination process.)

While that represents fewer metrics than we’ve used in the past, we still kept an even mix of variables that depend on sheer size, and those that depend on growth and efficiency (two each.)

We have several repeat winners this year, including Gary Collier from Pinnacle Bank; Ken Wren Jr. from TowneBank; Ken Ellspermann from Old National Bank; Leo Iacbobelli from ESL Credit Union; and Vance Richard from Iberia Bank. Scroll through to see our entire list of winners this year.

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