On the first morning of his run as a trainee for Merrill Lynch, Brian Hetherington remembers standing near his desk unsure of what to do next. “I got there at 6 a.m. and I just stood there for a long while.” After some time, one of the senior advisors in the office came over and asked if he was okay. “I said, ‘No. I'm not okay. I don't know who to call,’” Hetherington recalls. The advisor came back with the White Pages. For the next month, Hetherington called anyone in the phone book that had a business designation after their name. “I was on that phone night and day,” Hetherington says.
Hetherington is part of Merrill's Private Banking and Investment group, which means he deals only with clients with at least $10 million in assets. He's got 35 such client relationships, while the rest are doled out to others in the 15-person team. Hetherington is also the branch manager of Merrill's New Canaan wealth management office.
It's been over twenty years since he's cold-called strangers out of a phone book, but Hetherington continues to prospect for new clients. Many of his clients are hedge fund and private equity executives who have sold a business or started a new one. “We target professionals who have done the best financially. That's how we've evolved,” he says.
Eleven years ago, he moved his office from New York City to New Canaan, a town, he says, that is more “target-rich and less competitive.” Still, he spends at least 2 days during the week back in New York with client prospects. “I like being taken into someone's confidence by helping them with the whole financial process,” he says.
In addition to meeting with clients, Hetherington is also the chief investment officer on his team and has taken on money management for other advisors at Merrill Lynch. “Half of my day is spent with clients; the other half is thinking and acting on investments,” he says.
Firm: Merrill Lynch
Location: New Canaan, Conn.
AUM: $3 Billion
Years with firm: 22
Years in the business: 22
Business specialty: Discretionary investment management