5 Most Successful Financial Advisors


Magnus Carlsen may not be one of the most successful financial advisors, but he is the strongest chess player yet — human chess player, anyways.

What makes someone successful?

This question has no answer. It’s too vague. Here’s an easier one: what makes a successful chess player? This is an easier question to answer: a successful chess player is one who wins.

And, whoever wins the most, against the toughest opponents, that’s the most successful chess player. Today, that player is Magnus Carlsen, pictured above.

When it comes to the most successful financial advisors, this question is harder to answer. Consider a similar one: who’s the most successful musician of all time? I don’t know — should we go by the most brilliant, like Bach or Mozart? Or maybe whoever has sold the most albums, so, The Beatles?

Or maybe it’s just whatever band you enjoy the most.

That’s a tough question. When it comes to the most successful financial advisors, the difficulty of picking lies somewhere between musician and chess player. It’s not as straightforward as Magnus Carlsen, but still not as bad as art. (Ask me who my favorite artist is — my head will explode before I come up with a coherent answer that isn’t, “I don’t know.”)

So, yeah, how do you rank the most successful financial advisors? How do you decide something like that?

One easy way would be by the average returns that they get for their clients. If a financial advisor is making everyone a lot of money, well, that’s one form of success.

Except that approach has problems. Imagine, for instance, I’m a financial advisor, and I have one client, and that client has $1000 is cash they want to invest.

So I tell them penny stocks, because in this scenario I’m absolutely terrible at my job.

But I get lucky, and the guy makes a 400% return.

Am I now the best financial advisor ever?

No — far from it.

A more balanced way of ranking financial advisors is by the amount of assets they’re managing. Hopefully, if everyone is trusting you with billions of dollars, you have a good idea about what it is that you’re doing. And you must have a pretty good track record.

And you’re in luck, because I just so happen to have that data, which I’ve shared publicly in my post, Financial Advisors Ranked By Assets Managed. Now I’m using that data to bring you the top 5 most successful financial advisors.

Most Successful Financial Advisors

5. Roger Coleman

roger-coleman-most-successful-financial-advisorsFor all the money that Roger Coleman manages, there’s not a ton of information available on him. He’s the managing director of the Coleman Group at Morgan Stanley and, according to his LinkedIn, attended Marist College, where he played lacrosse.

He’s been with Morgan Stanley for more than 25 years.

Assets managed: 25.235 billion.

4. Mark T. Curtis

mark-t-curtis-most-successful-financial-advisorsMark T. Curtis also works for Morgan Stanley, heading the (aptly named) Mark T. Curtis group. According to his bio, he attended the University of California, Davis, and majored in economics.

And in what is a huge financial advisor cliché (especially among the most successful financial advisors), he likes to golf.

Assets Managed: 27 billion.

fred-berens-most-successful-financial-advisors3. Fred Berens

Fred Berens is the managing director of investments at Wells Fargo. He’s 71, and also a director of Elizabeth Arden, Inc. He attended the University of Miami.

Assets Managed: 41.5 billion.

2. Deborah “Debbie” Howard

debbie-howardShe’s been called Merril Lynch’s 100 billion dollar woman (although she manages a bit more than that now). Typical account size? A cool billion. She attended University of Cincinnati College of Law and lives in California.

Assets managed: 156.39 billion.

1. James Wallace

james-wallaceJames Wallace works for Merril Lynch as part of the Wallace Rainer group. Apparently he goes by “Jim.” He attended Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia and does volunteer work for the Devon Horse Show.

So I guess he likes horses. And probably golf.

Assets managed: 156,390 million.

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