Senior Vice President/Wealth Management
Career Began: 1980
Home Base: New York City
Civic Affiliations: Young Survival Coalition, Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, The Cancer Center for Kids at Winthrop-University Hospital
Smith Barney advisor Carol Glazer has earned her share of lofty titles and credentials -- portfolio manager, senior investment management specialist and senior vice president/wealth management, among them.
But here's one that defines the forward-thinking Glazer perhaps more than any other: sleep doctor.
"I had a client who told me this year that I ought to add 'sleep doctor' to my literature. I said, 'What?' He said: 'Sleep doctor. You watch my money. I sleep nights,'" recounts Glazer. "Now that's a high accolade."
The Glazer Group specializes in intergenerational wealth management. "The bulk of what we do is individuals; it's families; it's people who need me," says Glazer, who has $175 million in assets under management. "I like to be needed. We become very involved with clients. We become part of their lives. It's a real personal thing."
There are lots of defining moments in a career, in a life. One of those occurred on Sept. 11, 2001 when Glazer lost all her client records and 22 years of history in the World Trade Center attacks.
"Losing everything, literally, was somewhat difficult. It's as if you took my life and just threw it up in the air. How do you recover all that? You don't. You rebuild," notes Glazer. "The reality is the thing that bothered me most, and still does, is that I had a lot of personal letters from clients, pictures of them. My business is about families, and that was all gone. At the end of the day, they're not going to say, 'She was a great advisor.' It goes far deeper than that."
Glazer, in her early 60s, became an advisor in 1980 after her first career as a college professor of early childhood education and psychology. But the language of finance was familiar -- and had always held an allure. Her father was an economist and broker, and as a youth, she worked in his office. Meanwhile, Glazer's husband, a retired research analyst and portfolio manager, had introduced her to a lot of well-known asset managers and other industry players.
"It was something I always wanted to do, but didn't initially. It wasn't the traditional female thing and there weren't a whole lot of opportunities at the time. I loved teaching -- I still love teaching," says Glazer. "But something happens to you as you develop. I became ready at a certain point to make a change. I became a little bolder: You either do it or you don't. You say: 'Yes, I can do this. In fact, I need to do this.'"
Glazer started at Dean Witter, in part because there were a few other women in the New York City branch. Over the years, she participated in the firm's development of the Women's Business Exchange and from 1989 to 1997, Glazer ran an institutional business as well as a retail client base. She had spent 25 years with the firm, by then Morgan Stanley, when she joined Smith Barney in early 2006.
Glazer has always been something of a trailblazer. In 1989, long before it was an industry standard, she formed her first team. Today, she and her partner, advisor Spencer Gillen, have an office manager and two interns. She and Gillen, who joined the practice 10 years ago, have an interesting set-up. "We sit in the same office, hear each other's conversations, and we have two meetings a day," says Glazer. "I don't need the power office. This way we can share concepts. There's an immediacy that I find important." Glazer brings estate-planning, insurance and lending specialists from Smith Barney to the table as needed. Her "virtual team," she calls it.
"We're like a little boutique. We bring the team to the table. That means. depending on the resources a client needs, we pull together the people to work with them. We're very relationship-driven," says Glazer, who also advises on close to 20 pension and 401(k) plans. "If you don't have a strong relationship with a client and cannot develop that relationship -- well, that's just not what we do."
Marty Kamins, a client for 25 years, calls Glazer "a good person, a friend, someone I can bounce ideas off of." Kamins' father was a client of Glazer. Now, his two sons are as well. "With her, I feel I can be open, discuss anything. And, first and foremost, there's trust."
A philanthropic impulse also drives Glazer, in part because of daughter Jenna, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 11, and again with breast cancer a couple of years ago at 33. She supports causes involving cancer research -- and she urges clients to pursue their own passions. "It's not my responsibility, but it's part of our conversation," she says. "We open up that question." This year, in fact, one client has already made 20 donations using a special tax break for people 70 1/2 who donate assets from their IRA.
"It's an exciting business, an exciting time," says Glazer. "The thing that's very interesting is there's always something to learn. It's never the same. For my type of personality, this is a perfect place to be."
Freelance writer Ellen Uzelac is based in Chestertown, Md.; the former West Coast bureau chief and national correspondent for The Baltimore Sun, can be reached at email@example.com.