What inspired these top advisors to help others manage money

David Rea, president of No. 1-rated financial advisor firm Salem Investment Counselors, attributes his start in the business to excellent professors at Indiana University while he was pursuing an MBA.

Everyone loves a good origin story, whether it’s fictional, like Superman’s, or real life — think Warren Buffett or Steve Jobs — or even somewhere in between. But how about the financial advisor you’ve been working with all these years? What motivated him or her to work with numbers and balances and figure out how those, well, figures impact people’s lives?

Financial professionals sometimes get stereotyped as bean counters and calculator-button pushers, but in speaking with top executives at leading advisory firms that made CNBC.com’s FA 100 list this year, it’s apparent that there are two themes common to most of their background stories: first, a fascination with the mechanics of money, math and markets — in short, “finance” — and second, a desire to interact with and truly help people — in other words, “service.” It’s no coincidence, then, they ended up in financial services.

More from Financial Advisor 100:
CNBC FA 100 2019 list of top-rated financial advisory firms
Top-ranked advisory firms help meet their client’s financial goals
10 years on, ‘personal touch’ will still dominate financial advice space

We asked eight financial advisors from wealth management firms ranked in the 2019 FA 100 list what exactly inspired them to get into the financial advisory business. Their replies follow.

California Financial Advisors
, San Ramon, California

• Michelle Perry Higgins, principal: “My family owned several businesses when I was growing up, and I was completely obsessed watching my dad pay the bills, count the money after closing and work with customers. I knew early on I had a love for money management. My first purse, at 5 years old, was a Bank of America money bag.”

• Mark A. Pitre, principal: “Personally, as I went through college, I realized that there were a few interests that I wanted in my career: One, I wanted to help people, and two, I enjoyed working with numbers. As I considered various careers, I realized that the financial planning/investment advisory industry provided both. In this industry, to be successful, you have to want to help people first and foremost. Without that being your main objective, you will struggle as an advisor.

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