Doug Stewart, First Union Securities, Fredericksburg, Va. Doug Stewart takes a professorial approach to his business, educating clients so they know and understand their investment choices. "It gives them tools they can use and makes them more comfortable with their financial picture," says Stewart, managing director at First Union Securities in Fredericksburg, Va.
The first class for new clients: an introduction to and discussion of investment philosophies and risk tolerance. Then, with detailed notes in tow, he holds quarterly meetings to review goals and expectations based on their original conversation. "I like clients to clarify what they feel good about or what they don't feel good about regarding their investments," Stewart says. "Then we can make whatever adjustments are necessary."
Education has been a priority in Stewart's business since 1986, when he joined Wheat First, now First Union Securities. He spent the first seven years leading seminars for the general public, the local community college and various service organizations. "We covered the basics of financial planning and investment strategies," he remembers. "I'd say at least 50 percent of those attending became clients."
As his client base grew so did referrals. A self-described generalist with an emphasis on financial planning, Stewart actively encourages referrals. "I tell everyone who comes through here that I would love to have 'Doug Stewart' on the tip of their tongue when anybody talks about investing." His proactive approach works. This past year, he opened 300 accounts through referrals, ending the year with 2 million dollars in production and 300 million dollars in assets under management. Stewart works with four sales assistants.
But years ago, in 1990, Stewart was eager to expand his own experience, so he took on the responsibilities of branch manager. He won the Branch Manager of the Year Award five years later.
For achievements outside the office, he won the James C. Wheat Community Service Award in 1997 for his involvement with numerous charitable, religious and school groups. He's on the boards of the Fredericksburg Academy, which he helped found; the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region, which he also helped found; Mary Washington Hospital Foundation; St. George's Episcopal Church and his alma mater Virginia Tech.
After nine years as branch manager, Stewart decided to step down. "It was a good experience, but with my business growing, my community commitment and the time I want to spend with my wife and two young children, I felt enough was enough."
Stewart's next goal is to increase his production to 3 million dollars. His plan: education-oriented seminars for high-net-worth individuals; continued requests for referrals; and breakfast, lunch or dinner seminars targeting CFOs and human resources directors.
Stewart's niche in seminars suits him well. "His commitment and ability to communicate with clients is better than most brokers I've seen," says client and local attorney Connor Ashby.
Ed Knowles, former regional director with Wheat First and now retired, agrees. "Doug is goal-oriented, professionally motivated and completely dedicated to being successful in whatever he does."
These are pleasing words for Stewart. "I like people to feel good around me. I care what they think. My mother says it's because I have a high need to be loved."