The Faces Of Leadership

This month‚s cover story focuses on a subject reporters and editors approach with both interest and trepidation. In a profession with literally thousands of bright, committed individuals, identifying potential future leaders is a tall task. Then there are other issues. For all its strengths, the financial advisory profession isn‚t exactly overflowing with youngsters. Youth in this business is largely a matter of relativity.

It‚s only natural that clients possessing significant assets and concerned about retirement tend to be in their forties and fifties. They feel a whole lot more comfortable discussing these issues with folks who are close to their own age, not people young enough to be their children.

How did we select the subjects of this month‚s cover story? We looked for people who were not only accomplished professionally but also committed to advancing the profession. Washington Editor Tracey Longo conducted numerous interviews with past leaders and other professionals, and the source of the nominations played a prominent role in our decisions. For example, when Alexandra Armstrong quickly nominated Mark Johannessen, a principal at rival Sullivan Bruyette Speros & Blayney on the other side of the Potomac River, her recommendation carried more weight than those from people who might have nominated their own partners–or shamelessly nominated themselves.

For those offended at being omitted from this list, you should know that we were not attempting to put together an exhaustive directory. No doubt some future leaders will emerge who escaped our notice. Professional excellence is something most serious businesses strive to achieve. Whether you are a financial advisor, aerospace engineer or magazine editor, excellence is something that is difficult to reach and even harder to sustain. It‚s one reason why I wouldn‚t have started this magazine if I weren‚t confident that people like Nick Murray, Mike Martin, Russ Prince, Hannah Grove, Dick Wagner, Tracey Longo and Dorothy Hinchcliff were available. Just read Nick‚s column this month about the courage to underperform and Mike‚s entertaining recollection of his own start in the advisory business, and you‚ll know what I mean.

In this issue, we‚re pleased to add another writer with whom many of you are familiar, Bill Bachrach. A recent survey of planners at independent brokerages conducted by The Tiburon Group identified Bachrach as the top coach in the business. His column will appear on a bimonthly basis, and you‚ll also find experts like Leo Pusateri writing more frequently here in upcoming months.

No editorial about leadership in this business would be complete without mentioning someone who has personified it for decades. At the age of 64, Tony Greene, CEO of Raymond James Financial Services (RJFS), decided to retire in May. After starting a tiny business called Investment Management & Research in the 1970s at Raymond James, Greene spent the next two decades building it into the nation‚s second-largest independent brokerage. His business acumen enabled him to anticipate trends years before they became obvious to rivals. When fee-based asset management programs elicited guffaws or outrage from many brokerages in the early 1980s, Greene was encouraging reps to move as much of their business in that direction as possible. Avoiding the sanctimonious piety of some fee advocates, he was concerned about potential conflicts of interest confronting his reps at a time when many in the nascent planning profession were struggling. More than anything, he was concerned about the well-being of clients. In the early 1990s when the industry was floundering, he was named president of the International Association For Financial Planning and was instrumental in resuscitating the association into a vibrant, progressive group. For an editor like myself trying to cover a business that seemed infested with more minefields than Yugoslavia, he was a source of reliability and honesty. In 20 years as a business writer and editor, I‚ve met people more successful than Tony (Sam Walton, for one). I just haven‚t met anyone with more integrity.

Evan Simonoff, Editor-in-Chief

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