Anthony Arico is the manager of Wells Fargo Advisors’ Madison Avenue branch in New York City, located in a tony midtown Manhattan neighborhood marked by soaring skyscrapers, posh hotels and the whiff of money.
Against this showy backdrop, the unpretentious Arico runs a small office that is decidedly free of pomp and starchiness. Amiable and candid, the manager lives to service the 37 financial advisors who report to him.
“We’ve got a pretty low-ego operation. The key is to remain humble. I always try to live by that,” says the manager, 45.
But when prompted, he isn’t shy about noting some of his top accomplishments.
“We haven’t lost any financial advisors to the competition in four years. The last one came back because he didn’t like it at UBS. I felt really good about that,” he says.
Arico’s biggest achievement centers indeed on his outstanding record of advisor retention and expansion even in the face of longtime FAs’ retirement.
New York-born, Oklahoma-bred, Arico has managed the branch at Madison and East 54th Street for seven years. He has been with Wells Fargo and its predecessors—he started out with Prudential Bache Securities—for his entire 24-year career. Now a senior vice president of the nation’s third largest brokerage, with 15,300 advisors, Arico began as a Pru cold-calling summer college intern.
Though he never opted to join the advisor corps, he deeply understands FA needs.
“My advisors are my lifeblood,” he says. “I tend to get very involved and granular with their problems when it comes to the nitty-gritty of their business,” he says.
His branch manages some $4.5 billion in client assets, and last year’s revenue totaled approximately $33 million. About 35% of the advisors are fee-based; branch-wide, a third of the practices are structured as teams. With their older, fairly affluent Upper East Side Manhattan client base, the FAs conduct a substantial amount of fixed-income investing.
Arico’s chief goal for this year is to grow revenue 8.5% and increase the branch’s already healthy liability management business.
“We’re [concentrating] on putting incentives around [adding] more mass affluent households, and other new assets. The easiest way to do that,” he says, “is through recruiting.”
It is an aggressive effort. In seven years, Arico has been responsible for bringing in about $19 million in new production.
“Anthony runs a friendly, high-morale branch. He’s a hands-on manager who’s focused on and very attentive to the needs of his advisors,” says recruiter Mark Elzweig, president of Mark Elzweig Company, executive search consultants in New York City.
Arico came to Madison Avenue not long after managing a suburban Boston and Manchester, N.H., complex, a position he snagged just six months after relocating to Boston from New York to begin branch management apprenticeship.
Before that, he had been asked repeatedly to go the branch manager route. He found the notion appealing; but having worked his way to overseeing strategic financial business operations for all branches east of the Mississippi, Arico felt happy enough to stay put.
Then came 9/11. That morning during a meeting, he happened to glance out a window of his top-floor office close to the World Trade Center. What he saw was the first plane slamming into the North Tower. Horrified, he watched people jump to their deaths from the burning building.
He ducked under his desk. As the first tower came down, severe air pressure caused what he felt as a powerful whack.
“We’ve got to get out of here!” he told colleagues. “We put handkerchiefs over our faces and took off. We got as far uptown as Chinatown when the second tower went down,” Arico recalls, painfully.
The terrorist attacks transformed his attitude about how he would approach the remainder of his years.
“I realized that life is short and your career even shorter. I felt pretty strongly about doing some of the things that I thought I’d be good at and would find fulfilling—so I decided to go into branch management,” he says.
The main value Arico brings to advisors, he believes, is helping them with their process and leading them through tough times.
“Not every day is peaches and cream—that’s not life,” he notes.
Philosophically and literally, Arico maintains an open-door policy. A favorite time for FAs to stroll in for one-on-one chats is 5:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m.
“They like to talk to me at the end of the day. And that’s where you build relationships,” the manager says.
When it comes to recruiting, Arico’s high ethical standards take precedence.
“It’s more than just revenue and assets. I’ve probably passed on as much production revenue as I’ve [brought in]. Everyone would like a recruit who produces $750,000 to $1 million with a nice asset base and a fair amount of managed money. But to me, what’s key is how an advisor manages their practice and if they’re good people with a high moral compass. So,” he says, “you look somebody in the eye and ask a lot of questions. It’s part art, part science.”