This year’s top three regional advisors have risen through the ranks through a combination of ambition and diligence. Check out what has inspired these top regional brokers.

These profiles are 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 advisors who made the list to find out the secrets of their success.

No. 3: Sean Fitzpatrick
AUM: $235 million
Firm: Raymond James
Location: Houston
Age: 33

The first two or three years were some of the most challenging for Raymond James advisor Sean Fitzpatrick. Starting his career straight out of college at 23, he found himself in a cubicle by himself in an office in Houston with no team and no young colleagues before many training programs had really taken off.

“In the beginning it’s all about survival,” Fitzpatrick says. “Everything basically starts with a negative. It’s how you choose to overcome all of that.”

To get his business off the ground, Fitzpatrick designed an ambitious strategy. He had a tally sheet of 500 calls to make every day, set up seminars and networking events, and never left the office on Friday without having 15 meetings set up for the next week.

“You continue to do that system and keep going and going and things start to turn for you,” he says.

Fitzpatrick also turned another potential negative into one of his best assets:  “Any time that someone was going to ask about my age, I wasn’t going to make it a negative,” he says.

Fitzpatrick, who read financial magazines and watched CNBC through high school, told prospects that he was well versed in the latest products, understood that it was a different market going into 2002 and wouldn’t just go with strategies because that’s what others had been doing, he says. Fitzpatrick says he also realized that he had something the advisors didn’t; he had to prove himself.

“I’m growing, I’m going to be here, and I’ve got a burden,” he would tell potential clients. “One person is trying to prove themselves and the other is not. That tends to be a benefit to the level of service [for the client].”

He ended up proving himself to enough clients that by his third year, he felt like he was starting to gain momentum. “Looking back, three years in I knew I had something good here,” he says.

His list of retail accounts continued to grow as he invested time into getting to know existing clients and began to draw referrals.

“I like to do a lot of social events, getting together for dinner, lunch, breakfast sometimes or golf or social [activities],” he says. “The more time you’re spending around them, the better you get to know them and the more likely they are to introduce you to friends and colleagues.”

Fitzpatrick’s persistence and competitive spirit continues to drive him even as his assets under management hit $235 million.

“You really have to want to succeed in this business and [have] persistence,” he says. “There are people I still call from my first month in the business and at some point I hope that will pan out.”

No. 2 Adam Estes
AUM: $440 million
Firm: Hilliard Lyons
Location: Bloomington, Ind.
Age: 35

As one of the youngest on this list, Hilliard Lyons advisor Adam Estes is a testament to the benefits of getting an early start.

By his pre-teen years, Estes was busy learning all he could from his father, who has been an advisor at Hilliard Lyons since 1972, and digesting books on the fundamentals of investing.

“While some kids were playing dungeons and dragons, I was learning about investing,” he jokes. “Sadly not as much as Warren Buffet when he was that age, but hopefully somewhere near.”

Estes joined Hilliard Lyons right out of college in 1999. Although he ended up at the same firm as his father, he points out that he only received warm leads from his father and focused on building his own book of business.

“The first couple years you feel like you’re just pounding your head against a wall,” Estes says. “It’s just a numbers game.”

Then one day, the dam broke. One of the big accounts that he had been prospecting monthly for a couple years got back to him. “It’s your lucky day,” he remembers the prospect saying. 

“Then when that happened, it just started cascading,” Estes recalls.

Several more “lucky days” followed, including the day he won his most difficult account--a woman who had inherited a large sum of money. Her husband was a financial advisor at another firm, but she did not want him to manage all of the money. She shopped around and invited a number of other advisors, including Estes, to pitch their services. 

“I went in there thinking it was a complete waste of time because they were going through the process of interviewing people,” he explains.

In the end, however, Estes won the account. Business continued to flow in through referrals, and since Estes joined in 1999, the father-son team has always maintained positive net new assets and averaged a growth rate of 17% compounded per year, according to Estes. Since those first few years, however, Estes says one of the most helpful habits has been putting “numbers game” behind him.

“It’s so important when I come in to not think about the money,” Estes says. “If I let that enter my mind, then I won’t enjoy what I do and just kind of let the numbers shake out where they do.”

No. 1: Samir Murty
AUM: $1.25 billion
Firm: RBC Wealth
Location: Eau Claire, Wis.
Age: 34

Referring to himself as a "small cog in this larger wheel," RBC financial advisor Samir Murty, who ranks well into the Top 40 Under 40 list for the second time, exemplifies the team spirit of the advisors on this list.

Murty’s team, the Mark Orgel Investment Group, consists of seven senior advisors, ten wealth management support staff, three qualified plan support staff and one receptionist.

"Most comments are comments related to the practice as a whole," Murty says at the outset of the interview. "We don't tend to think of ourselves as an individual."

Founded in 1984, the group has a longstanding history of success and manages several billion in assets, but that record is not something they advertise.

"We do very little outward marketing," Murty says.

Instead of luring customers in with a jazzy website, the group has built up a substantial book of business individually and collectively through referrals. "That does not happen without the pillars being stronger [than the individual]," he says.

Giving customers that level of satisfaction has required them to do more than "crunch numbers," Murty says. And he prefers the liberal arts approach.

"There are a lot of people who can crunch numbers, but not a lot of people can combine numeracy with the effective ability to communicate," he explains.

Murty says he has developed that skill in high level conversations with institutional investors and honed it through more intimate conversations with his ‘retail’ clients, though he prefers to avoid that word.

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