From the September 2004 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

Leo Was Wrong

It was Leo Durocher, the professional curmudgeon who managed several major league baseball teams from the 1940s to the '70s, who proclaimed that "nice guys finish last." But Leo was wrong. For one thing, unlike in sports games, in life as in business there isn't just one winner: it's not just the homecoming king and queen who go on to have happy, meaningful lives--the rest of us do, too. And keeping with the baseball analogy, there are always people around like Ernie Banks, the Hall of Fame shortstop for the Chicago Cubs who never came close to winning a World Series ring playing with the hapless denizens of Wrigley Field, but did earn the respect of everyone not only for his skill, but for his approach to the game he so loved. These thoughts are occasioned by the Investment Advisor Broker/Dealer of the Year Awards, which we highlight in this month's cover story. Four independent broker/dealers were given the highest ratings by their own reps and won this year's honors: Geneos Wealth Management, NEXT Financial, Sigma Financial, and FSC Securities. Other than Geneos, which is only two years old, this year's honorees have won the award multiple times before. This is NEXT's fourth consecutive win, 2004 marks Sigma's eighth win, and FSC grabbed its seventh gold.

How did they do it? To learn the specifics, read the profiles of the winning companies as described by their leaders and reps that begin on page 76. The winners are quite different from one another in a host of areas, including size, ownership structure, and business focus. What they do share in common, however, is a desire to succeed, and that's as true in winning the Broker/Dealer of the Year contest as it is in providing an atmosphere in which its representatives can succeed. In fact, if you want to know how to win B/D of the Year, there's only one number you need to consider: voter turnout. Following the pattern of previous years, not only did this year's winners get the most positive ratings from their voting reps, but three out of the four received the most votes total in their respective divisions. The winning B/D that didn't get the most total votes in its division--FSC--had only nine votes fewer than the second-place finisher in Division IV--InterSecurities (which won last year's Broker/Dealer of the Year honor in Division I, with the most total votes).

The good news for the entire B/D industry is that readers gave very positive ratings--an average in the 80s--to their B/Ds. Another finding of interest came from asking responding reps to pick another B/D they would consider affiliating with. While most of the 4,800 voters left that space blank, hundreds did respond. The winners? Commonwealth Financial, LPL, and Raymond James Financial Services. Let's call them the Ernie Banks Award winners.

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