STACI Q. BLACK
UBS Wealth Management
Last year, UBS launched a campaign among its advisors to encourage clients to switch from snail-mail proxies and reports to electronic record delivery. Staci Black, an investment associate for advisor Edward C. Brown in Canonsburg, Pa., took to the task in a big way. Within a year, 60 percent of Brown's investors had signed up for e-delivery. Black, 39, said her approach was to simply ask clients upfront if they were tired of receiving all that paperwork in the mail. For those who were, Black explained that they could make that problem go away and get their documents via email. For those who preferred paper, no problem. Her enthusiasm for the project also paid dividends for Black, who took home an iPad and a Kindle as monthly in-house prizes for producing the best conversion rates.
Black's been in the business for nearly 20 years, and she remembers days when appreciation was not a part of the daily routine. After getting an associate's degree from a business school, her first job was working a wire room at The Advest Group before its acquisition by Merrill Lynch. After six months of typing orders from brokers, an opening for a sales assistant came up. “Definitely a step up,” as Black recalls, but the brokers in those days could be a surly crowd to work for, bellowing at the support staff and even bringing some of them to tears (Black says she never wept.)
Things changed 12 years ago when she signed up with Brown, who then worked for Merrill. Brown was more interested in working collaboratively with Black, who would be interfacing more with clients as opposed to just opening accounts and getting checks in the mail. Both read “The Supernova Advisor,” Rob Knapp's advisor strategy for focusing on the wealthiest clients which was required reading at the Merrill office. “We are a team,” Black says. “I'm the face of the business.”
A bold statement, and not without merit. Black obtained her Series 7, 63 and 65 licenses and completed a paraplanning program at Merrill. When Brown decided to leave Merrill for UBS eight years ago, he brought 90 percent of his clients with him. Black was in on the transition discussion from the start, and her close relations with the practice's investors helped Brown keep most of his assets. The practice today has assets under managment of $175 million from 260 clients. “I know about their grandkids and what kind of dog they have and the dog park that they go to out in Arizona,” she says, laughing. “I had a client call the other day, he just wanted to see how I was doing. He had no question whatsoever about his account or anything. I think they just like to talk to us.”