People Person

Theodore "Ted" Vogt, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Grand Rapids, Mich.In 1982, Theodore Vogt began his career as a registered rep at age 32. He told himself that if he wasn't having fun in 24 months, he would return to managing a car dealership. After nine months with a regional brokerage in Grand Rapids, Mich., he knew he wasn't going back.Although Vogt liked the business, he felt a bit unsure of himself

Theodore "Ted" Vogt, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Grand Rapids, Mich.

In 1982, Theodore Vogt began his career as a registered rep at age 32. He told himself that if he wasn't having fun in 24 months, he would return to managing a car dealership. After nine months with a regional brokerage in Grand Rapids, Mich., he knew he wasn't going back.

Although Vogt liked the business, he felt a bit unsure of himself at first. "[The training] was pretty much, 'Here's your desk, here's your phone, have fun,'" Vogt recalls.

He fell back on his objectives from the car business--15 new cars a month. So his goal was to sign up 15 new clients each month.

When he made cold calls he figured that the person didn't know about his firm or about him, so he would tell them about something they did know, such as a local equity or a tax-free bond. Vogt also called people he knew from his days at the dealership.

Building new relationships and strengthening others has been important to Vogt throughout his career. If someone became a client from a cold call, he would stop by their house or office to pick up the check so he could meet them. "The financial consultant today has to understand that this is a contact sport--you have to stay in touch," he says.

In 1995, Vogt joined Morgan Stanley Dean Witter as a producing branch manager in Grand Rapids, a title he still holds today. He has a balanced business with 184 million in assets (about a quarter is managed), and production of more than 900,000.

In addition to being a strong performer, he is well regarded by the reps he supervises. He was named 1997 Branch Manager of the Year for the Midwest region.

"He's changing with the industry itself," says Dan Griswold, a rep in Vogt's office. "He has good ideas all the time and is more than willing to share them." Vogt is an "excellent manager and recruiter," confirms his regional boss, Tom O'Neil. "His people tend to like him a great deal."

Vogt credits his assistant, Carol Dehen for propelling him forward. Eleven years ago, she was his secretary and then sales assistant at the regional firm. For the past five years, she's been his registered partner. "Our first year together, our production nearly doubled," Dehen says. She makes sure everyone gets serviced and all follow-up items are completed.

Entrepreneurs are Vogt's favorite prospects. Since small-business owners risk their own money every day, he approaches them with something stable--tax-free bonds.

Vogt is a strong technology advocate. He recently helped a corporate client find a solution to tracking his assets that were divided among MSDW and four banks. By using MSDW's ClientServ system, which provides clients with online access to their accounts, Vogt solved the problem and became custodian of the accounts.

Even though building his business is a 70-hour-a-week job, Vogt makes time for his seven children. He tries to take his kids to school every morning. And he does not work on weekends because, "that's quality time with the kids." Vogt serves on his church's financial committee, and is involved in the Grand Rapids Foundation, which allocates money to programs such as Headstart and the Michigan College Fund.

"As they say in athletic circles, he just does 'whatever it takes'" to get the job done, O'Neil says.

Dehen credits Vogt's energetic personality. "He answers the phone with all the enthusiasm of a rookie on his first day at work," she says.

"I enjoy people," Vogt explains. "You're doing something good for them that's helping them meet their goals. And you sleep at night."--Michelle Petty

Outstanding Traits:"He has a really good sense of humor that is contagious. He'll be cracking up and everyone else will start laughing along with him."--Vogt's partner Carol Dehen, branch administrative manager, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Grand Rapids, Mich.

"He gets people to trust him because he doesn't try to sell them what they don't need or want. He makes them feel comfortable with what they're buying."--referral source Miles Schmidt, CPA, Grand Rapids, Mich.

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