Small business owners,
professionals and corporate executives. These
are the demographic niches
favored by brokers who go after the high-net-worth
market. But there are many other high-net-worth
niches -- and the more obscure or off-beat yours
is, the more likely you are to dominate
sure which niche to select? Marketing experts
suggest you concentrate on who and what
and the areas that stir your passions.
Lights, Action, Broker!
James Ronald Whitney
Vice President, Royal Bank of Canada/Dain Rauscher
New York, New York
What better way to specialize
in a high-net-worth niche than to be part of
that niche yourself?
Ronald Whitney discusses
the business of showbiz.
That's what James Ronald
Whitney does, juggling two full-time careers.
During the conventional
workday, he's a full-time broker at RBC Dain
Rauscher's Fifth Avenue office in New York City.
He has been
an investment professional for the past eight
years, managing "under $50 million" for
about 100 high-net-worth actors, talk-show personalities,
producers and directors in New
York and Hollywood. Although he won't go public
with his client list, he serves a well-known
news anchor, a CNN correspondent, a couple of
nationally-known movie critics and several soap
opera stars. (You won't find stage actors on
his bill, however; he says they rarely have
net worth.)In his other life, Whitney is a full-time
director/producer, working as long as nine hours
a day writing, directing, producing, composing
and filming TV shows and feature-length movies.
"People usually have only one career,"
Whitney says. "I always want to focus on
two. What I end up giving up is, quite simply,
sleep." So far, Whitney has produced four
documentaries. One --"Telling Nicholas"--
will kick off a week of September 11-related programs
on HBO. The film follows the ordeal of a father
struggling to tell his son that the boy's mother
had been killed in the collapse of the World Trade
Center. Whitney promoted the film on "Oprah"
and "Inside Edition."
Always the marketer,
he takes pains to reflect some of the dazzle
of his entertainment pursuits
onto his brokerage career. "I have a pretty
high-profile life," he explains. "My
customers find me.by watching my movies on HBO,
and since I'm in all of them, I always identify
myself as a broker."
In "Telling Nicholas," for
instance, Whitney shows footage of and talks
about the destroyed
offices of his former employer, Tucker Anthony.
And in interviews, he promoted some of the
that were created to assist victims' families.
Whitney has Web sites for all his films and whenever
he's interviewed on talk shows -- and he's been
on virtually all of them -- he's identified as
a vice president at RBC Dain Rauscher. He actively
courts the media, and allowed ABC to use his loft
for Barbara Walters' pre-Oscar interview with
Whitney was in show
business long before the brokerage business.
Starting at 13, he performed
on TV shows like "Fame," "Star
Search," and "Cagney and Lacey."
He's written plays and TV treatments, and danced
at Chippendale's. After marrying a dancer from
the hit musical "Cats," he opened a
store where the two of them walked a tightrope
above customers' heads. He went on to operate
a string of retail businesses (remember, he rarely
sleeps) and not trusting anyone else to manage
his growing portfolio, he decided to pursue a
Series 7. When he joined Chatfield Dean & Co.
in 1994, show business friends began asking him
to manage their money.
With their potential for roller-coaster surges
and dips in earnings, entertainment clients need
help understanding how tax laws, stock options
and business expenses affect their financial health.
Entertainers, he says, worry most about job security,
or lack thereof, and the possibility of extended
periods without income. While that might suggest
fixed-income investing, most of his clients prefer
equities, particularly large-cap funds.
Not all brokers can,
or even want to, specialize, Whitney acknowledges.
But those who do want to
concentrate one segment of the high-net-worth
market can borrow his marketing tips [see box
on p. 54]. he believes. And brokers who have
interests or an avocation should maximize the
networking potential of their non-financial
there are investors -- in entertainment, or aeronautics
---there are opportunities."