Mother-son team adds `spark' to consulting business and delights clients.
The last thing Linda Rhodes wanted 10 years ago was for her son to become a stockbroker like her.
Today, the last thing Rhodes wants is for her son, Jordan, to leave her brokerage team, The Rhodes Group.
"We've become such a great team that if Jordan ever left, it'd be devastating," says Rhodes, a senior vice president and consulting group director at Salomon Smith Barney in New York.
"I didn't want Jordan to come into this business because I know how hard it is," says the 25-year veteran. "But nothing was going to stop him. He had made up his mind. As it turns out, he was born for this business. His ability to sell, the relationships he builds with clients, and his concern and caring for clients make him a perfect partner."
"All I've done," Jordan says, "is emulate my mother."
Prior to Jordan's arrival, Linda had been thinking about leaving the field. All that's changed. "I have no plans whatsoever to leave," she says. "Jordan's added a real spark to the team."
There's energy in the unique nature of their relationship, both Rhodes say. They feed off one another's comments and reactions, and their skills and interests are complementary.
"Clients really like this mother-son twist," Jordan says. Adds Linda, "Clients get a kick out of us."
Jordan, 32, joined his mother only after working elsewhere. Linda insisted that if Jordan was to enter brokerage, he needed a strong business background, including the ability to sell and deal with clients. So Jordan worked for several companies before making the move to Salomon Smith Barney in early 1999.
The Rhodes Group features four other key members - Susan O'Connell, Marla Oster and Sarah McLane provide client service, and Mary Ellen Rund is a financial consultant and account manager.
The group, which handles $1 billion in assets, specializes in managed money, financial planning, consulting and 401(k) plans. Among its clients are 10 unions, several foundations, endowments and high-net-worth clients.
"Even though Jordan and I mainly speak to the clients, hold quarterly meetings and bring in new clients, we pretty much run separate businesses," Linda says. "Jordan is more involved in the retail side and works with smaller pension accounts, some 401(k)s and does seminars. I mainly work with high-net-worth clients and with referrals from other brokers here at the firm who can't or won't handle institutional business."
Of course, there are contrasts between the two generations. "Jordan is into stock-picking. He gets real excited about that. I'm the total opposite," Linda says. "I'm geared into managed money and long-range thinking and planning. He's amazed that I hardly watch the market. He watches minute by minute, hour by hour. While he's on the phone, he's watching the market and talking stocks. That can be a lot of fun. It was for me years ago."
There's just one negative aspect of working together, according to Jordan.
"Sometimes I slip and call my mother `Mom' instead of Linda," he says, with a laugh. "It's weird, but I feel funny calling her Linda."
Other than that, neither Linda nor Jordan can pinpoint a downside to the partnership.
"My mother is my role model," Jordan says. "I've learned so much by being around her, listening to how she talks to clients, how she treats them. To be working with her on a daily basis is a tremendous experience."
Linda learns from the arrangement, too: "Jordan's brought in new ideas, new methods and is involved in areas - like stock-picking - that I let pass me by. He's really given us an injection of excitement."
What do the four non-family members think about working with a related pair? "It's really not an issue with us," says Sarah McLane, a senior registered associate. "The team consists of six people. We just happen to have two team members from the same family. It's not a situation where they're apart from the rest of us."
So when Jordan Rhodes calls his mother, Linda, by her first name, there's even less to distinguish them from the others. "This is a very professional business with very professional people," McLane says. "It's not run as a family business."