On Mary Deatherage's first day in Smith Barney's training program in 1986, a sales manager spoke to her group: “I promise you, if you put your head down for two years, and you work harder than anyone else, you will never have to work that hard again,” the advisor said. Deatherage took it to heart. “Almost to the day of my two-year anniversary in the training program I had my first job,” she recalls.
Some 22 years later, Deatherage leads a team of 7, managing $1.2 billion for 250 clients who are mostly in their 50s to 70s with net worths of $5 million and up. She has been very patient with the process of growing her book of business. When it comes to prospects, she says she doesn't even look at their investments at the start. The key, she says, is taking the time to earn clients' trust so that they feel comfortable sharing what is most important to them. “More than anything else you are creating a brand — and that is not going to happen overnight because you have to earn the respect and the trust of everybody,” she says.
Deatherage's lively way with words makes her success seem effortless, but it wasn't. Not only did she start in the business a year before the stock market crash of 1987, Deatherage also came into Smith Barney wanting to be a financial planner when no one else was. “They used to laugh at me because I was doing seminars every day. I would carry my little flip chart and easel out the door, but Smith Barney didn't tell me not to do it,” Deatherage says. “It was obvious to me, that if I was really going to have a deep understanding of the relationship with my client, I needed to understand the client and not throw stocks at them.”
Outside of work Deatherage says her life is dedicated to her family: her husband, now an investment banker at Merrill Lynch, and her two sons, 20 and 16. On any given Saturday, you might catch Deatherage at various gyms around New Jersey serving hot dogs at her son's basketball game.
Firm: Smith Barney
Location: Little Falls, N.J.
AUM: $1.2 billion
Years with firm: 22
Years in the business: 22
Business specialty: Financial planning