It was high time to cut the cord. Not that cord. The imaginary cord that tethered Aaron L. Saperstein, a then-transactional broker, from his office chair to his desktop computer. In the heyday of the ’90s bull market, the select group of 20 high-net-worth clients for whom he processed trades had made it clear that his place was nowhere but at the screen watching the market — constantly.
Aaron L. Saperstein, Managing Director-Investments, Westchester Wealth Management Group of Wachovia Securities, Purchase, N.Y.
AUM: $220 million-plus (Saperstein), about $600 million (Total Group).
His warning: “Clients should never leave you for the next level of service.”
One afternoon, the clients screaming because he briefly left his post shortly before a stock they owned plunged on a missed-earnings rumor, the broker thought: “‘This has to stop. The cord must be severed, or I’m going to leave the business.’ I felt like a bookie aiding and abetting people’s gambling instincts,” recalls Saperstein, who split for a planned vacation the following day.
When he returned, he switched virtually “cold-turkey” from transactional broker to consultative advisor. Most clients, he says, stuck around.
Seven years later, he is managing director-investments of Westchester Wealth Management Group of Wachovia Securities, in Purchase, New York. He manages more than $220 million in assets; and in total, the group’s trio of million-dollar producers have about $600 million under management.
Their team is one of 200 Wachovia groups employed under the firm’s semi-independent Profit Formula structure. Responsible for their own expenses, they receive a higher — 75 percent — payout, which in turn enables them to realize an increased profit margin.
The son of a physician and a psychotherapist, Saperstein, 44, was born in Oregon, reared in Connecticut and bunked at a Jewish summer camp and a Catholic prep school (“I have all kinds of stories!”).
Today, the ex-broker’s niche is advising high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth families. Many clients are in the financial services industry. “Even though they do something very well,” he says, “sometimes they’re not the best managers of their own funds. It’s good to have a little separation between them and their money.”
Client Steven Beck, an institutional bond salesperson with Deutsche Bank, in New York City, came to Saperstein “on the heels of a blood bath” to his personal portfolio. “I was beaten up and worn out. I gave Aaron’s system a shot — and now, seven years later, he has 100 percent of my assets,” says Beck. “It’s all managed on a discretionary basis. He’s a class act, and everyone I’ve referred to him agrees.”