If keeping your representatives satisfied is the name of the game for broker/dealers, then it’s no surprise that Ralph DeVito and The Investment Center are the winning team in Division II this year. The company, now in its 20th year, currently has 325 producing reps (as of April 1, 2006) with a majority of them concentrated in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, and Florida. “We feel that we can’t be everything to everyone,” says president Ralph DeVito, who founded the company along with his father, also named Ralph. “We stick to our niche of financial planner/advisory-type-business reps and we think we can be everything to them.”
Of the company’s reps participating in this year’s balloting, 85% gave The Investment Center the highest possible grade in all 15 categories, all said they were free to run their practice in the way that’s best for their clients with no sales pressure, and only one of the reps said they wished the broker/dealer would add services.
“We focus everything on support and that comes through every different facet of our business,” says DeVito. “I think what’s driving the success is the personal service and the personal touch that we have.”
The Investment Center’s responsiveness to her practice’s needs is what keeps Pam Herlong happy. “They’re not so big that you’re just a number,” says the rep in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, who had previously worked with both a gigantic broker/dealer and a small independent, but has been with the Investment Center for the last five years. “They’re big enough to get things done effectively and efficiently, but they’re small enough that you have more of a personal relationship with the back office.”