Nadav Baum, Salomon Smith Barney, Pittsburgh While his friends were sound asleep or watching cartoons on Sunday mornings, 10-year-old Nadav Baum was out delivering bagels, orange juice and a copy of The New York Times to clients in his Pittsburgh neighborhood.
"I was very entrepreneurial," Baum says. "When I had a paper route, I always wanted a bigger one."
When he didn't get one, he decided to best the other kids by creating a "bagel route," earning 1 dollar profit per house as a delivery charge. He started with 10 homes and worked his way up to 80 houses.
"My dad drove me, so he took 10 percent for gas and insurance," Baum says. "I learned business semantics at a very young age-you don't get 100 percent gross to net. Still, if I had 80 bucks in my pocket and had to give 8 dollars to my dad, 72 dollars was a pretty good day for a 10-year-old kid."
More than a quarter century later, Baum is still ahead of the rest and at the top of his profession, hauling in more than 3 million dollars in production on assets topping 310 million dollars for Salomon Smith Barney in Pittsburgh. He's made his mark by specializing in retirement planning.
"In 1994, my business plateaued," Baum says. That's when Baum felt he was ready to establish a niche. He picked a favorite.
"Every broker and financial adviser wants to be part of the retirement planning game," Baum says. "That's because it's the biggest check people get and they have to make a quick decision as to where that money is going. So what I did was throw myself into it for an entire year, learning everything I could about lump-sum distributions, nonspouse beneficiaries, 72(t) rules."
Then, he launched a fierce marketing campaign that included buying time at KDKA-Pittsburgh's top AM radio station-to do an "Investment Minute" three times a week, putting on a series of seminars and establishing a newsletter.
"It was like a political campaign," says Baum, who has three children-Saxon, Danika and Keaton-with his wife Nancy. "Basically, when people hear you on the radio going to work and coming back from work, then find a flier at their door, you're becoming ingrained in their minds. My goal was that when people thought about retirement planning, the first thing to enter their minds was, 'Yeah, that's Nadav's niche.'"
After work, Baum is involved in a variety of charitable organizations. He is on the board of the ALS Association of Western Pennsylvania. Four years ago, he launched an annual golf tournament to raise money to find a cure for ALS, commonly known as Lou Gerhig's disease. The event brings in about 40,000 dollars each year. He is also on the board of directors for Indiana University of Pennsylvania and on IUP's School of Business Advisory Council. He volunteers at Adat Shalom Synagogue, too.
Baum finds the outside interests fulfilling, but nothing's better than educating people about retirement and ensuring their financial futures. "The greatest thing about being in this business is when a client tells you, 'Thank you. I never dreamed I'd be secure like this in retirement,'" he says. "It's a great feeling to know the type of impact you have on people's lives. It's what has always driven me and it's what will continue to drive me."