Ex-tennis coach is adviser to the rich



Peter Maller

Certified financial planner /partner

Heritage Financial Consultants, Lutherville

Salary --$750,000

Age --39

Years on the job --14

How he got started --Originally from South Africa, Maller came to the United States on a tennis scholarship and attended Washington College on Maryland's Eastern Shore. He graduated with a business degree and later went on to coach Florida State University's tennis team. While coaching, he completed his master's in business administration. Although he did not specialize in the financial services industry, he took a job with Lincoln Financial Advisors in Lutherville.

On finding the job --"I stumbled across it. I like the idea of being able to make a difference for people as far as financial planning was concerned. The sky was the limit as far as the kind of money you could make. And there was a lot of flexibility." He helped form Heritage Financial Consultants in 1997 and is now one of six partners.

Typical day --He works at least 50 hours a week. Maller said his day could include meeting with clients to work on a comprehensive financial plan or an annual review. He estimates an initial financial plan takes about three months to put into place and a review takes a few days. He also must oversee his staff, which includes one part-time and four full-time employees.

Clients --Maller works with clients who typically have a net worth of $5 million and above or an income of at least $250,000. They tend to be in the Baltimore-Washington area, but he also has clients in Florida, California and the Midwest. He works with about 150 clients and takes on about five new ones each year.

Best advice --Take a comprehensive approach to financial planning by focusing on all aspects including investment, insurance, estate and retirement programs.

"They are all intertwined and if you only focus on one or two and forget about the other two, you are going to run into problems."

Biggest problem in industry --Planners spend a lot of time with clients in the beginning but do not follow up. He estimates that he contacts each client about 24 times throughout the year, which includes mailings, e-mail messages and semi-annual and annual reviews.

The good --"The feeling of not only gratitude, but also the feeling of comfort and `sleep-well-at-night' that these clients will relay back to us once they have gone through the whole process."

The bad --Maller says that the job is labor intensive and that the industry has a high turnover rate. "You really have to be on your game at all times. You're in that coaching, motivational position at all times. It really is a tough job."

Philosophy on the job --"You always have to put the client first. You need to be very diligent and focus your time and energy on creating value, trust and relationships."

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