Nineteen-eighty is distinguished as the year Ronald Reagan was voted 40th U.S. president, the compact disc was devised, and 83 million tuned in to get hip to who shot J.R. on TV’s “Dallas.” But for Paul W. Sanderson, 1980 is headline-worthy for this reason: It’s the birth year of both his only daughter and his career as a financial advisor.
Little did he imagine that 20 years later, baby Jennifer would be his business partner in the CFP’s highly successful private wealth management practice at Smith Barney.
Father-son teams are widespread, but father-daughter partnerships are fairly scarce, especially in the financial services arena.
Still, “for a very long time, I secretly hoped this might be possible. Jennifer is — I’m going to sound like a proud papa — an extraordinary, engaging person with a great mind. This field is perfect for her, and I felt she’d excel in it,” says Directors Council member Sanderson, from the team’s Walnut Creek, Calif., offices.
For six years now, the senior vice president, 56, and newlywed Jennifer A. Schneidermann, 26, a second vice president, have been partners in The Praxis Group at Smith Barney. Focusing on comprehensive wealth management, and with more than $350 million in assets under management, the two advisors cater to high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals, as well as small to mid-sized institutions.
With their offices a couple of doors apart, “our hallway carpeting is worn very thin! Much of the time I’m in Paul’s office or he’s in mine. We’re collaborating constantly,” enthuses Schneidermann, who concentrates largely on personal financial planning and alternately calls Sanderson “Paul” or “my Dad” at work. “In the beginning, I thought I should say ‘Paul’ only. But it’s easier not to worry about keeping things so formal.”
The two share all accounts and all assets. They meet jointly with clients, who range broadly in age from late-20s to mid-90s.
Branch manager John Greaves, senior vice president-wealth management, says: “What impresses me most about this team is that they’re able to tackle the most challenging wealth management issues and put together very sophisticated, complex strategies. They’re both incredibly intelligent people.”
With a Ph.D. in political economy from the University of Toronto, then having joined the school as assistant professor in the same discipline, Los Angeles-born Sanderson says that at one point he was on track for a post at “a certain Washington, D.C., intelligence-gathering agency.” But the psychological profile they worked up on him showed he was better suited to the financial world. Sanderson took the cue and joined Bache & Co. as an advisor.
Schneidermann, a UCLA magna cum laude grad, made a similar career-path switch. As a second year pre-med, she realized how all-consuming the road to M.D. would be and sought a new direction. “The one pre-condition,” she says, “was that I’d be able to help people in some important aspect of their lives.”
Schneidermann had always been interested in economics and earlier interned summers for Dad. But she’d “never in a million years” thought of becoming an FA. Then came an eye-opening conversation with her father.
“I was feeling guilty about leaving [medicine], where I’d be able to literally save lives. But when Paul said that the No. 1 concern for people outside of their health usually is their finances, it clicked. I realized I could go into a field that interested me and actually help people in a meaningful way.” She ended up majoring in economics.