David Wamsley, Salomon Smith Barney, Indianapolis
David Wamsley started trading stocks in high school--with his grandparents' encouragement and some token money. By the time he got to Purdue University, Wamsley had advanced to oil well investment partnerships.
"I didn't have enough money myself, so I raised funds from my friends and family," Wamsley says. "It was a partnership within a partnership." Putting together several more of those oil well deals helped him land a job in 1984 as a broker with the former Shearson American Express.
Wamsley is now senior vice president of investments with Salomon Smith Barney in Indianapolis. He is a 1.3 million producer who controls 156 million in assets.
Wamsley's business is 55% managed accounts. A pioneer in fee-based business, he started shifting to fees in 1988. "I thought it was the most objective way to deal with clients," he says.
Wamsley built his business mostly by working with retirees from local Indianapolis-based companies. "It was money in motion," he says. "People have needs that are different when they retire." Word spread about Wamsley's work with retirees to current executives, who have become clients.
To achieve success as a broker, Wamsley advises: "Be tenacious, have patience and good listening skills. Seek someone successful in the business and study their habits." He also recommends having top-notch help. He gets support from Donna Shumar, a senior registered associate, and Brenda Farrington, a sales assistant.
One thing Wamsley doesn't have in his business is an account minimum. "I'll work with anyone, particularly a referral from another client," he says. "I try to take care of people who have taken care of me--return the favor. And the way I do business, small clients get the same level of service as the larger clients."
Communication is a key element of the service strategy. "I made it a goal to speak to every client every three months, and others more often," he notes. That's no small feat with about 720 client households in 29 states.
Wamsley likes face-to-face meetings even better than phone conversations. That's where his pilot's license and Bonanza airplane come in handy. He flies to clients' locations and meets with them.
He also aims to treat his clients like family. "What's most important is being a good listener," Wamsley says. "I listen to what they want and apply my knowledge to help them achieve that outcome."
One nine-year client, Cynthia Wills of Carmel, Ind., considers Wamsley a friend as well as a trusted adviser. "He's very patient," Wills says. "His greatest gift is taking something that's so foreign to me--investing, budgets, trusts, taxes--and putting it in language that's easier to understand."
Along with building client relationships, Wamsley extends himself to the community. He screens applicants for United Christmas Service, an organization that provides gifts and money to needy children and families. Wamsley also volunteers for Sertoma's (Service to Mankind) Indianapolis club and Children's Guardian Home, a residence for children with parents in trouble.
In his spare time, Wamsley enjoys catching thermals (rising air masses) in his sailplane or taking to the skies to make others happy. A seriously ill friend of Wills' had a dream to go flying. One gorgeous fall day, the three of them boarded the Bonanza for an aerial tour of the autumn bloom. Wills says her friend was "floating in the clouds" for weeks afterward.
It was no big deal for Wamsley. After all, that's what he does--helps make people's dreams come true.--Tracy Herman
Outstanding Traits:"He's always available to answer questions. He has the client at heart, and he gives a lot of personal attention."--client Cynthia Wills, Carmel, Ind.
"He has the ability to be very professional, very personable and very easy to understand. He takes the complicated nature of investing and simplifies it."--cli ent Jerald Miller, attorney, Indianapolis