Four Palm Beach advisers make list of ‘Barron’s’ top 1000


Special to the Daily News

Posted: 6:02 p.m. Saturday, March 31, 2012

What do a man raised on a cattle ranch in Montana, another on a farm in western Pennsylvania and a third from a seacoast community near Cape Cod, Mass., have in common?

All are Palm Beach investment advisers whose names are on Barron’s list of the top 1,000 financial advisers for 2012.

Palm Beachers have acquired their wealth via many paths: entrepreneurial success, the corporate ladder, inheritance, investments — or any combination of ways. Regardless, managing a fortune takes discipline, patience, knowledge and confidence.

If they happen to be seeking professional money management, there is no shortage of advisers at banks, brokerage firms, trust companies and independent money managers here to select from.

But among the dozens of licensed registered representatives, Certified Financial Advisors, and well-educated and experienced money managers working in Palm Beach, only four have made Barron’s top 1,000 list for 2012.

No. 8 is Kurt Sylvia of UBS Financial Services. He is followed Anthony Rizzo of Deutsche Bank, No. 48, then Paul Luther and Christopher Andrews, both of Merrill Lynch, No. 54 and No. 56, respectively.

All four also made the Barron’s 2011 list of the top 1,000. Sylvia also made the Barron’s top 100 list in 2006 and 2008.

Rizzo was not permitted by Deutsche Bank to be interviewed for this story.

Making the list

You’ll find plenty of similarities in how Sylvia, Luther and Andrews manage money. Each is part of a team; each knows preserving wealth can be just as or more important than increasing it; and each knows how important relationships are in building and keeping his client base.

But it takes more than smiling faces, a team effort and respectable returns for your name to wind up on the Barron’s lists.

In the questionnaire sent to all advisers hoping to be included, Matthew Barthel, associate editor at Barron’s, said, “There are 102 data points that are calculated, under three broad headings — assets under management, revenue growth and quality of practice — with a number of sub-calculations under each.”

And, he said, though performance is important, other factors — such as the blend of an adviser’s client base — also matter in this top 1,000 list that Barron’s has been publishing since 2009.

But what you won’t find on the list, published each February, are tidbits about their personal backgrounds, what’s involved in managing wealth and what they’ve learned from their experience in the markets.

Right place, right time

Luther, for instance, is the senior member of Merrill Lynch’s Wealth Management group in both experience and age. With 50 years of financial industry experience, counting two years spent in the military, Luther, 69, who grew up on a farm in western Pennsylvania, began his career at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

He got his first job the old-fashioned way: walking into an employment office in Washington, D.C. After high school, his plan for the future was to go to college at night and work during the day. So he left Pennsylvania, headed to Washington and began job hunting.

Luck was on Luther’s side the day he got off a bus in Washington, noticed a sign with an eagle signifying the SEC and, underneath it, a brass “Employment Office” plaque. He walked into that office about 8 in the morning and found the only person there to be the director of personnel. After chatting with him, Luther was hired as a clerk and by noon that same day began working.

Luther recalls that at that time, there was a 15 percent government-wide reduction in hiring, and the SEC was the only government agency hiring. The year was 1962.

“The first week I was there, the market was down like 100 points from 339 to 239, or something like that,” said Luther, who has worked at Merrill Lynch for 35 years.

At first he thought he was fortunate to find a job so quickly, but after that initial week had second thoughts. “I figured I may have been one of the dumbest guys around coming into a job with a company that’s going out of business.”

Luther earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from George Washington University, with an MBA in econometrics. His title is that of Wealth Manager Advisor at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.


Saturday, March 31st, 2012 EN

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