Familiar faces popped among the Tarrant County financial advisers ranked among the annual Barron’s 1,000 top U.S. advisers: Henry Luskey of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, and Shott Miller and Bradley Bruce of Merrill Lynch, all three of Fort Worth.
It was Luskey’s fourth straight year on the ranking and Miller’s third consecutive. Bruce has made the prestigious list two of the last three years.
“I hope we can have this conversation again in another year,” Miller said.
The ranking is based on assets under management, revenue produced for the firm, regulatory record, quality of practice, and philanthropic work, Barron’s says.
Luskey, ranked 50th among Texas advisers and a former specialty retailer who went into the investment business 18 years ago, says nothing has changed about his game. He likes to pick his own stocks and bonds, shies from bond funds in favor of individual issues, loves energy, and generally doesn't farm money out to other managers except in cases such as gaining exposure to foreign holdings.
“We’re always very heavy in energy, we stress quality, we stress blue chip, we stress income,” Luskey said. “We try to get our clients income and growth in the most conservative way.”
Luskey, the lone adviser in his team of three at Morgan Stanley, recently won a promotion to executive director from senior vice president. He reports having $500 million under management, with a $3 million typical account.
Lately, Luskey says some clients have been taking profits in the strong equity market. “The market’s doubled in the last three years,” he notes. Not only that, his clients’ largest holding had been XTO Energy, and when it was acquired by ExxonMobil, which clients also hold, portfolios ended up too heavy in ExxonMobil, Luskey says.
Miller, in his 27th year at Merrill Lynch and ranked 35th this year among Texas advisers, says clients have been “gaining a little bit of confidence in the market” over the last six to eight months.
He notes many investors in a recent Merrlll study indicated the best investment advice they’d received lately was to “stay the course.”
“People have done that,” said Miller, whose four-adviser team reported $3.5 billion in assets under management and a typical $1 million account.
Merrill’s also keeping an eye on risk these says, he said.
“There’s risk in this market,” he said. “You never really know what’s going to happen day to day.. When everybody feels happy and feels they’re beyond the risk, that’s usually when something happens.”
At least among his clients, he said, “I’m not seeing that.”
Merrill recalls the start he got in the investment business, building his book through cold calling in the 1980s and early 1990s. “It opened up what are now some of my better accounts,” he says.
Such a route is difficult for newcomers in the industry, who typically leverage their networks to prospect new business, he says.
Bruce, ranked 64th among Texas advisers, has been at Merrill for 24 years, since graduating the University of Arkansas and being taken in by the firm on his first visit to Fort Worth
The lone adviser among a team of four, he reports $517 million under management, with a $5 million typical account.
“My clients are typically cautiously optimistic” and not in a get-rich-quick mode, he said.
“We don’t have a lot of get-rich-type portfolios,” he said. “We have a lot of stay-rich-type portfolios.”
- Scott Nishimura