Working in the advisory world is in Stephanie Link’s genes.
Hightower Advisors’ new chief investment strategist and portfolio manager comes from a family of financial advisors, who’ve worked mainly at wirehouse firms. But Link decided to take a different route and 27 years ago began her career on the institutional sales side of the business at Dean Witter.
From there, the self-described “market junkie” went to the buy side and, anticipating big growth for the business, moved to the wealth management side.
“[Going to the] independent wealth management space was almost a ‘no brainer,’ because of the favorable dynamics in the marketplace,” she told ThinkAdvisor recently on her first day at Hightower.
She previously worked for TIAA-CREF after it acquired Nuveen, where she was a senior managing director and head of global equities research. Link also co-managed the CREF Stock Variable Annuity Portfolio with $170 billion in assets and managed the $3.7 billion U.S. Core portfolio on her own.
If Stephanie Link sounds like a household name, she is. She’s been a longtime contributor to CNBC and was chief investment officer at The Street for six years, working with Jim Cramer as co-manager of the Charitable Trust.
Her plate remains full at Hightower, where she’ll be “wearing many hats” while remaining a visible expert in the marketplace, she said. Her new role is focused on “providing communication, helping advisors in whatever capacity they want, being a presence on TV, and running money.”
Wall Street Experience
Her first job was on the Dean Witter trading floor “where you’re six inches apart from each other,” she says. Two institutional salespeople taught her the job, and the “importance of communicating and relationship building. They were really wonderful in helping me identify what I wanted to do, because who knows what they want to do right out of college?”
It helped that she “was a sponge,” Link says. “I wanted to be number one and was very driven.”
Her father, who worked as a branch manager for a wirehouse, was her main mentor and was “a great influence on me in terms of motivation,” she explains, adding that she also learned a lot from being a competitive tennis player as a child.
With about five women and 500 men on the Dean Witter floor, Link kept her ears and eyes open. “I listened a lot; a really good salesperson is a good listener. And I worked super hard. It was a challenge, but it was also very rewarding.”
Here are more highlights from our conversation:
THINKADVISOR: What advice do you have for those entering the business today?
LINK: Work really hard, keep your head down, come in early, under-promise and over-deliver, be a good communicator, have confidence but be humble. And [find] a mentor.
You need to have someone by your side who can help you grow as an individual, grow as a business person, and give you confidence. They might be a male or female, it doesn’t matter.