Early in 2008, investors had to cope with a windfall of bad news—credit markets melting down, inflation heating up, talk of recession, plunging stock prices. But even when fear seemed contagious, a funny thing was happening at the offices of Chicago's top financial advisers. Their phones were largely . . . quiet. Most clients weren't calling, needing to be coaxed back in from the ledge. Often that was because the advisers had already taken the initiative and picked up the phone, reminding clients that their portfolios were diversified to weather the storm and that the road map to their financial goals remained intact. In short: They could sleep easy. "On days when your client is losing money, those are tough calls to make," says R. J. Shook, a researcher and an author in Boca Raton, Florida, whose organization, The Winner's Circle, studies the financial advice business. Good advisers do it, he says, "because it's the right thing to do."

Financial pros who can deliver peace of mind when the going gets tough don't merely earn the loyalty of clients. They attract new ones and sport growing books of business. They also draw the attention of Shook's Winner's Circle, which identifies top advisers, most notably in national rankings published by Barron's. (Shook says his organization receives no compensation from financial advisers or their firms for the rankings; it earns money from book sales, conferences, and research sponsorships.)

To single out Chicago's top advisers, Shook and his team assembled a mountain of quantitative and qualitative evidence. They solicited nominations from securities firms, banks, and other financial companies; reviewed internal compliance records, customer satisfaction data, and client retention rates ("If they're losing clients or assets, it's a sign," Shook says); grilled members of management and industry peers ("often where we get our best information"); and conducted in-depth interviews with the advisers themselves, by phone and in person.

Because most advisers don't have audited track records, portfolio performance did not enter into the ranking formula. Instead, the evaluators assigned weight to each adviser's size of assets managed, revenues produced, and years of experience. Many top local advisers have surrounded themselves with outstanding talent, so Shook and company factored in the strength of their teams as well. Consideration was also given to racial and ethnic diversity and to smaller account sizes to allow for greater variety.

After The Winner's Circle arrived at its verdict, Chicago interviewed the finalists for the profiles that follow. Our 50 winners are models of what a financial adviser should be, adhering to high ethical standards and employing the industry's "best practices," says Shook. They offer objective advice and "open architecture" platforms, with access to a wide range of financial products and services, not just those of their own firms or a few outside companies.

The advisers on our list excel at bringing order to their clients' financial affairs, managing the risk in their portfolios, and mapping strategies to meet their long-term financial goals. A few specialize in recommending specific investments for clients; most, though, act more as consultants, devising asset allocation strategies but hiring outside money managers to do the actual investing. For clients with large portfolios and complicated

financial lives, these advisers can tap a full range of wealth management services, including trust and estate planning, philanthropic advice, credit services, and help with tax strategies.

Our rankings are divided into two lists: one with 40 advisers employed by or affiliated with brokerage houses or banks; the other containing ten registered investment advisers (RIAs), who tout their independent status. The separation is necessary, Shook says, because the two types use different business models and abide by different regulations and standards. There are also differences in their fee structures—something a prospective client should understand before opening an account. (To learn more about financial advisers, including how they are paid, credentials they carry, and questions to ask when hiring one, visit www.cfp.net/learn/ or www.fool.com/fa/finadvice.htm.)

Ultimately, says Shook, the differences between brokers and RIAs aren't nearly as important as the traits that the best ones share. They "aren't concerned about making a trade because it benefits them," he says. "On both lists, they're looking after their clients' best interests at all times."

Morgan Stanley, Oak Brook
scott.magnesen@morganstanley.com | 630-573-9694
Minimum account: $250,000
Typical account: $500,000 to $5 million

If you have, say, $10 million or more to invest, congratulations—you're an "ultrahigh-net-worth individual," and many an outstanding local wealth adviser would love to be your best pal (provided you opened an account with him). But Scott Magnesen, the highest-ranked broker in our roundup of the best Chicago-area financial pros, isn't among them. Over his 26-year career in Morgan Stanley's Oak Brook office, Magnesen, 49, has thrived by catering to "lots of forgotten investors," he says, meaning the merely affluent, with a few hundred thousand to a few million dollars to invest. Magnesen and his two partners excel at helping people navigate the transition from work to an asset-funded retirement. Since half of his team's 3,000 clients are retired, and most of the rest aspire to be within the next decade or two, preserving what they have is essential. "They're not interested in making 20 percent when the market is up 15," Magnesen says. He and his team focus on allocating client assets across a broad diversity of handpicked equity and fixed-income funds. The mix for each client varies according to age, goals, income needs, and risk tolerance. Magnesen likens his job to "a pilot trying to find smooth air"—dampening inevitable gyrations in stocks, for example, with "noncorrelating" investments that tend to move counter to stocks. Along with providing a smooth ride, he seeks to increase his clients' wealth over time. "If your performance isn't good, you won't keep clients and you won't attract new ones," he says. By that measure he's doing something right—adding a whopping 200 new clients a year.

Wachovia Securities, Deerfield
steven.hefter@wachoviasec.com | 847-405-7300
Minimum account: $1 million
Typical account: $10-$15 million

IN BRIEF: Assesses global economic trends—interest rates, currencies, energy prices, growth rates in other countries—and then picks money managers who can best capitalize on those opportunities for his 120 client households. "By being able to have a diversified portfolio not correlated with stocks," says Hefter, 54, "you can have positive returns even in years when the U.S. stock market is down."

BULLISH CALL: Lately favors money managers who can hedge their funds—betting against the U.S. auto industry, for example, while in favor of international natural resources—but don't have the high fees associated with hedge funds.

JPMorgan Private Bank, Wheaton
michael.peska@jpmorgan.com | 630-221-2245
Minimum account: N/A
Typical account: $12.5 million

IN BRIEF: Working with six partners, who bring expertise in investing, private banking, and wealth advice, Peska, 44, serves as "client advocate," he says, coordinating customer goals and objectives with his team's efforts. His role: making sure clients understand their options and strategies, and never forgetting "it's the client's money—and choice," he says.

JPMorgan Private Bank, Chicago
Minimum account: N/A
Typical account: $50 million

IN BRIEF: Braunrot, 46, says his ultrarich clients "took a concentrated risk to make their money" in technology, pharmaceuticals, financial services, and the arts. "We're in the risk management business." He coordinates experts—in asset allocation, investing, trust and estate matters, philanthropy, and more. "I am in the center of the ring, with top hat, whip, and chair, making sure to bring in the right specialist at the right time," he says.

Credit Suisse, Chicago
bruce.lee.2@credit-suisse.com | 312-345-6050
Minimum account: $5 million
Typical account: $50-$60 million

IN BRIEF: The rich former business owners who head many of the 40 or so families Lee serves tend to be "great leaders," he says, accustomed to being in control. "I've never met a client who says, 'Here's $50 million—go for it.'" Lee, 44, helps them switch from being CEO of a company to CEO of their own wealth. It's not just about expert money management; his job is also about "engaging with the family dynamic, from patriarch to grandchildren."

Merryll Lynch & Co., Chicago
Raj_Bhatia@ml.com | 312-325-2676
Minimum account: $10 million
Typical account: $15 million

IN BRIEF: From taxes to philanthropy to transferring their wealth, Bhatia's clients have complicated financial lives, and his job is to marshal the right experts to deliver customized solutions. For client portfolios, he seeks top money managers in equities, fixed income, and "alternative" investments (hedge funds, private equity, and other products not appropriate for smaller investors). Bhatia, 52, says his clients "want advisers who understand market cycles and won't expose their capital to excessive risk. They're not concerned with getting an extra percent of return. They're more concerned with having their wealth serve their broader goals, like giving philanthropically or passing it on to heirs."

Credit Suisse, Chicago
chris.baldwin@credit-suisse.com | 312-345-6003
Minimum account: $5 million
Typical account: $30 million

IN BRIEF: His 25 or so clients want to hang on to what they've got, because "there's no way they're going to create that wealth again," says Baldwin, 49. "So they're thinking about how to manage risk." Baldwin's semiheretical risk-management philosophy: "Diversification is overrated." Like Warren Buffett, he prefers to "own a smaller subset [of investments] and understand them better."

Smith Barney, Chicago
william.h.easom@smithbarney.com | 312-648-3471
Minimum account: $500,000
Typical account: $800,000

IN BRIEF: Easom, 46, and his two partners help clients—from assembly line workers to corporate middle managers to top executives, many in their 50s and 60s—roll lump payouts from retirement plans into IRAs, then invest the proceeds properly "so they can create an income stream and live happily ever after," he says.

Smith Barney, Chicago
mark.c.hutchinson@citi.com | 312-419-3300
Minimum account: $1 million
Typical account: $5-$10 million

IN BRIEF: A rarity on this list, Hutchinson, 45, researches and buys individual stocks for his clients. "I'm not buying funds," he says. "I'm not managing managers." The advantage for his 180 clients: "I actually know what my customers own . . . [because] I've been able to do the research on a really fundamental level."

BULLISH CALL: Financial services stocks—banks and brokerages—will outperform the broader market in the second half of 2008.

Merrill Lynch & Co., Chicago
S_Oberlander@ml.com | 312-696-7620
Minimum account: $1 million
Typical account: $2.5 million

IN BRIEF: Oberlander, 57, says people often come to her with financial "baggage"—money accumulated from trying out different financial advisers, institutions, and investments. They end up with an unmanageable situation that's hard to get their arms around," she says. She helps them "simplify, consolidate, and diversify" their finances and stick to a "disciplined process" customized to each client's needs.

Smith Barney, Chicago
michael.joseph.gallagher@smithbarney.com | 312-419-3534
Minimum account: $0
Typical account: $350,000

IN BRIEF: Gallagher, 46, and his team oversee 1,500 households, mostly employees of small and medium-sized public companies enrolled in equity compensation programs. They specialize in converting concentrated stock positions to cash, then mapping out a financial plan and building a diversified portfolio.

Merrill Lynch & Co., Chicago
Maureen_Raihle@ml.com | 312-325-2635
Minimum account: $10 million
Typical account: $30-$50 million

IN BRIEF: For Raihle, 45, a senior partner on a seven-member team serving 70 to 75 ultrarich families, "asset management becomes almost secondary to what we do." Her team sits at the hub of clients' complex financial needs, which can range from the usual (philanthropy, estate planning, tax minimization) to the unusual (finding the best doctor for a medical problem, financing a new jet, helping children find the right college). "We provide a high-touch level of service," she says.

JPMorgan Private Bank, Chicago
courtney.m.cavatoni@jpmorgan.com | 312-732-3489
Minimum account: N/A
Typical account: $50-$150 million

IN BRIEF: Her 80 rich clients "spend a lot of time on how to give away money effectively," says Cavatoni, 36. But they also "worry about how much to give to their children, how much is too much." Her team helps them solve these and other big-money worries.

Robert W. Baird & Co., Chicago
Minimum account: $5 million
Typical account: $10-$15 million

IN BRIEF: Collins, who played four years as a Cubs minor leaguer, compares himself to a general manager in baseball. GMs don't play shortstop; they get them for their team. Similarly, he says, "I don't think about whether to buy Microsoft. I ask what's important to the client, talk about investment strategy, and get an investment policy in place—a blueprint for what we're going to do." Then he lines up the right pros to execute the plan.

Morgan Stanley, Chicago
edwin.hodge@morganstanley.com | 312-706-4547
Minimum account: $10 million
Typical account: $35 million

IN BRIEF: Among the 58 families served by Hodge, 56, and his two partners, David Wilkinson and Matthew Voss, 39 (both of whom also made our list, at numbers 34 and 35), are nine Forbes 400 members. "The most important thing we do is manage risk and determine appropriate asset allocation," says Wilkinson, 49. The three work as a team. "There's very little that goes on in a client's portfolio that all three of us don't know about."

BULLISH CALL: They think alternative investments—hedge funds, private equity, and structured products—will continue to outperform domestic equities in 2008.

JPMorgan Private Bank, Chicago
lynn.varndell@jpmorgan.com | 312-732-7084
Minimum account: $0
Typical account: $12.6 million

IN BRIEF: Varndell, 49, serves 75 to 90 clients, mostly corporate executives and their families. "I'm responsible for knowing their resources, needs, goals, objectives, and personalities, so I can bring in our other specialists to help them realize their goals," she says.

Morgan Stanley, Lisle
william.lymangood@morganstanley.com | 630-245-6000
Minimum account: $1 million
Typical account: $2-$3 million

IN BRIEF: A lifelong resident of Naperville and 26-year Morgan Stanley vet, Lymangood, 57, wants his clientele of retirees and preretirees to think of him as their "financial quarterback" when they need help rolling retirement plan balances into IRAs, finding alternative investments, diversifying out of concentrated stock holdings, or getting their estate plans in order.

Moser Kearns & Associates, Barrington
thomas.a.moser@ampf.com | 847-620-5551
Minimum account: $500,000
Typical account: $1.2-$4 million

IN BRIEF: Moser, 58, specializes in helping executives plan for a successful retirement, which, he says, involves much more than having a solid income stream. "You have to make sure clients keep their minds active, not just their bodies," he says. "We help them create a vision of retirement that gets them excited."

Morgan Stanley, Oak Brook
kyle.chudom@morganstanley.com | 630-573-9680
Minimum account: $250,000
Typical account: $750,000

IN BRIEF: Provides complete financial planning and investment advice to 1,000 clients. Rather than try to outperform indexes with actively managed stock or bond funds, Chudom and his partner, Eric Hayes, prefer passively managed exchange traded funds, which allow them to build diversified portfolios for their clients while holding down costs and taxes. "Instead of trying to hit home runs, if you consistently hit singles and doubles your portfolio is going to move up and down less and do better in the long run," says Chudom, 47.

Merrill Lynch & Co., Chicago
Mark_Birringer@ml.com | 312-325-2614
Minimum account: $10 million
Typical account: $40 million

IN BRIEF: One Saturday, a client called Birringer from Cabo San Lucas because his fishing boat engine had conked out. "We were able to track down a Caterpillar technician in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and convince him it would be worth his trouble to get the needed parts to Mexico on Monday," says Birringer, 44. Result: The client was able to enter a sailfish tournament and even win some money. "It cemented his relationship forever with us," Birringer says. "Clients hire us to coordinate their investment, tax, and estate plans. But they come back for less tangible things. Ultimately we help them with the one thing they can't buy—time."

Smith Barney, Chicago
michael.d.cohen@smithbarney.com | 312-648-3425
Minimum account: $0
Typical account: $1 million

IN BRIEF: Cohen, 52, and his team partner, Michael Lukas, 52 (ranked 22nd on our list), directly invest their clients' money in index funds and other financial products rather than outsource that job to other money managers. "We are the money managers for our clients, and they get a lot of comfort from being able to talk directly to us," Cohen says.

Smith Barney, Chicago
michael.t.lukas@smithbarney.com | 312-648-3424
Minimum account: $0
Typical account: $1 million

See Michael Cohen, above.

Morgan Stanley, Chicago
joseph.silich@morganstanley.com | 312-443-6200
Minimum account: $1 million
Typical account: $5-$8 million

IN BRIEF: In the past 20 years Silich—whose team of three serves more than 125 families—has seen people retiring earlier and living longer, "a deadly combination." Part of his job is to rein in unrealistic expectations. "Someone [still working] may be spending $2 million a year because they have four homes, but they don't have the asset base to retire with that," he says. "We deliver the castor oil: 'You've got to sell three homes.'"

Merrill Lynch & Co., Chicago
Linda_Stephans@ml.com | 312-325-2648
Minimum account: $10 million
Typical account: $25 million

IN BRIEF: Stephans, 51, leads an eight-person team that oversees more than $3 billion in assets, about half from not-for-profits such as college endowments, hospitals, and research institutes. The advantage for the 50 or so wealthy families she also serves: access to cutting-edge strategies, products, and managers that benefit the institutional clients.

Morgan Stanley, Oak Brook
ronald.stenger@morganstanley.com | 630-573-9676
Minimum account: $500,000
Typical account: $1-$5 million

IN BRIEF: His team handles 400 households—a combination of blue- and white-collar folks who need help navigating "the uncharted waters of the retirement journey," says Stenger, 56. "Our core philosophy is that retirement is a journey, not a destination, and we help direct the itinerary."

UBS Financial Services, Chicago
johnq.smith@ubs.com | 312-525-4687
Minimum account: $10 million
Typical account: $20 million

IN BRIEF: Smith, 47, and his two partners help their largely self-made clients—about 50 families, half from the Chicago area—with a full range of wealth management services. Among clients' biggest concerns: the impact of wealth on their children. His team helps them not only "transfer their wealth, but also transfer the values they embodied in acquiring that wealth."

Merrill Lynch & Co., Chicago
Dave_Wright@ml.com | 312-325-2620
Minimum account: $10 million
Typical account: $10-$50 million

IN BRIEF: For 50 rich families, Wright, 44, and his team "create a business plan for their assets," he says, which "adds discipline and a [long-term] time horizon to the process, so we're not [reacting] day to day."

BULLISH CALL: It's not a sexy idea, Wright admits, but upheaval in credit markets has created opportunities in fixed-income investments, especially tax-free municipal bonds.

Morgan Stanley, Chicago
kathy.roeser@morganstanley.com | 312-443-6500
Minimum account: $2 million
Typical account: $5 million

IN BRIEF: With stocks lurching downward in early 2008, Roeser's clients have grown noticeably more fearful. When they fret, says Roeser, 43, "my role is to counsel them and make sure fear or greed doesn't take over their decisions. So I've had my hands full.

BULLISH CALL: She has shifted out of small-cap stocks and real-estate investment trusts and into large U.S. growth stocks. She also favors "absolute return" hedge funds because they provide downside protection in volatile markets.

UBS Financial Services, Chicago
david.kinnear@ubs.com | 312-525-4715
Minimum account: $5 million
Typical account: $10-$30 million

IN BRIEF: Kinnear, 40, provides "very high-touch, high-contact" family-office-like services and customized strategies to 40 rich families. "Markets change; client needs change all the time. We're in touch with some clients daily, weekly, or monthly," he says

BULLISH CALL: The roiling of credit markets "will be with us much longer than most people believe," he says. Distressed debt funds are poised to profit from the mayhem

Denise A. Izatt & Associates, Oak Brook
dizatt@mscmail.biz | 630-571-6077
Minimum account: $150,000
Typical account: $700,000

IN BRIEF: Izatt, 52, and her staff help 1,000 clients, ages 18 to 102, with everything from buying a first home to paying for college to leaving money to heirs. A former teacher, she specializes in serving educators and school administrators with 403(b) plans

JPMorgan Private Bank
kyle.t.williams@jpmorgan.com | 312-732-4211
Minimum account: N/A
Typical account: $5-$15 million

IN BRIEF: Williams, 36, is a trust officer who specializes in estate planning. "When [clients] find out they can save millions for their families with an estate plan, they're sold," he says

UBS Financial Services, Northbrook
teri.conklin@ubs.com | 847-498-7800
Minimum account: $100,000
Typical account: $2 million

IN BRIEF: In a business dominated by men, Conklin is one of only about ten women among UBS's top 200 revenue producers—an honor she's held for more than ten years. "I'm very proud of that," she says. Conklin, 47, is also proud to have worked at the same place since graduating from college in 1982—unusual in her business. "I can say I've been through the '87 market crash, the '01 tech bubble," she says. "It gives clients assurance they're dealing with someone who's been through enough market cycles to know that this [volatility] too shall pass.

Conklin's six-woman group serves 400 clients, mostly lifelong savers now retired or nearing retirement. To tailor a financial plan to each client's needs, Conklin finds there's no substitute for regular up-close-and-personal meetings. "I think a face-to-face approach works well with the type of business I do," she says. "I'm able to get a much better understanding of their needs and wants when I can look them in the eyes."

BULLISH CALL: Although financial stocks have been among the market's worst performers, Conklin has warmed to regional banks, which may do well if falling interest rates spur mortgage refinancing, she says

Citi Family Office, Chicago
bruce.m.becker@citi.com | 312-648-3472
Minimum account: $2 million
Typical account: $3-$6 million

IN BRIEF: Anyone can be an investment whiz when the stock market is going up. Advisers like Becker, 46, earn their keep in lousy markets by protecting clients from asset allocation blunders they'd make on their own. For his 100 well-heeled clients, their wealth has "reached the point where managing it is a full-time job," he says.

BULLISH CALL: Long unloved large-cap domestic growth stocks "are selling for some of the best valuations we've seen since the early eighties," he says.

Morgan Stanley, Chicago
matthew.voss@morganstanley.com | 312-706-4528
See Edwin Hodge, ranked 15th

Morgan Stanley, Chicago
david.wilkinson@morganstanley.com | 312-706-4541
See Edwin Hodge, ranked 15th

Smith Barney, Chicago
barbara.j.finder@smithbarney.com | 312-648-3555
Minimum account: $1 million
Typical account: $3-$6 million

IN BRIEF: Finder, 49, advises 150 households, including many doctors, lawyers, nonprofits, and small-business owners. While about 65 to 70 percent of her clients are male, she also caters to "women in transition"—newly divorced or widowed. "Many are not informed about finance or are scared of it, so I spend a lot of time with them on how to allocate, take care of family members, and balance their lives," she says

Voyage Financial Group, Lisle
mchong@voyagefg.com | 630-353-0000
Minimum account: $0
Typical account: $750,000

IN BRIEF: Chong, 39, and his business partner, Tom Royce, 40, serve 430 clients, with Chong specializing in asset allocation and portfolio construction for retirees. "We don't bet on sectors," he says. "We overweight and underweight various asset classes based on fundamentals." Case in point: In November, they underweighted small-company stocks, which have performed dismally since then. Smart move

Robert W. Baird & Co., Chicago
rheidenrich@rwbaird.com | 312-609-4478
Minimum account: $5 million
Typical account: $7 million

IN BRIEF: With more than 30 years' experience in financial advice, Heidenrich, 72, is the point person between his clients and the specialists, such as conservative money managers. "We're not in the performance game, because that involves higher risk," he says. "Our clients are more into preserving their assets than building them.

Smith Barney, Chicago
patricia.g.cutilletta@smithbarney.com | 312-648-3401
Minimum account: $1 million
Typical account: $2-$6 million

IN BRIEF: Cutilletta, 58, built her practice 23 years ago by putting on financial seminars for women. Today more than half the money she oversees is owned or controlled by women. Her group's clients "have a Midwestern mentality," she says. "They're not gamblers. They're not traders. They're self-made. They worked hard for it. And they need to get their finances organized so they don't have to change their lifestyles for the rest of their lives.

Summit Wealth Advisers, Itasca
kevin.meehan@raymondjames.com | 630-285-0928
Minimum account: $1 million
Typical account: $1 million-plus

IN BRIEF: Meehan, 50, caters to baby boomers in need of comprehensive financial planning services, including little things people often forget, like keeping liability coverage or trust documents up to date. On the investment side, his firm specializes in "designing portfolios for defensive-minded clients that desire reasonable rates of return."


Illustration: David Plunkert

See next page for the Top 10 Independent Advisers 



Independent Advisers

Savant Capital Management, Geneva
bbrodeski@savantcapital.com | 815-227-0300
Minimum account: $1 million
Typical account: $1-$10 million-plus

Doctors, lawyers, and other affluent people typically go to Brodeski—who tops our list of registered investment advisers—in financial disarray, with little coordination between their tax, insurance, estate planning, and investing strategies. "There's a gap between where they're heading and where they want to be," says Brodeski, 40, whose 21-adviser firm is headquartered in Rockford (with offices in Geneva, Hoffman Estates, Freeport, and Madison, Wisconsin). "We help identify those gaps, then build strategies and processes to realign their path with their plan."

Once an integrated financial plan is in place, the firm's investment team can tailor a diversified global portfolio. Brodeski thinks it's nearly impossible for mutual fund managers to beat the stock market consistently over time. That's why he believes in passive investments such as index funds (which mimic the performance of stock market indexes such as the S&P 500 and the Russell 2000) and exchange traded funds (baskets of investments organized around specific themes, such as domestic small-cap stocks, real-estate investment trusts, or municipal bonds). It's also why he doesn't believe in "tactical" investing—making short-term bets in the hope of rapid appreciation. Such "market timing," he says, is "a watered-down way of saying, 'I can be smarter than everyone else.' It sounds sexy. The problem is, it doesn't work. And that shifting [money] around creates taxes and transaction costs" that hurt returns and add risk.

A better approach, he says, is to systematically rebalance portfolios, shifting some money out of outperforming investments and plowing it into underperforming categories, thus keeping the portfolio balanced. Recently, for example, he shifted client money out of Treasury bonds, which investors have flocked to during the credit market meltdown, and into small-cap value stocks, which have taken a beating. Such moves are "emotionally hard" for most investors, he says, but they improve long-term performance while keeping risk in check. The best part: "I don't have to spend a lot of energy stock-picking, market-timing, and manager-picking," says Brodeski. "Now I can spend that time on the client, helping him understand his long-range vision, sorting out complex multigenerational issues, coaching his children on financial matters—things that add value.

RMB Capital Management, Chicago
fpaulman@rmbcap.com | 312-993-5820
Minimum account: $1 million
Typical account: $3-$10 million

IN BRIEF: Offers in-depth financial planning and investment management services to high-net-worth clients, including large numbers of partners at law firms. Besides using outside advisers to manage client money, in areas such as international stocks, the firm also invests in funds managed in-house, including two domestic stock portfolios and a domestic long-short hedge fund. One advantage for clients, says Paulman, 35 (whose partner, Richard Burridge, 46, is third on our list): "We don't have an extra layer of fees associated with farming everything out.

RMB Capital Management, Chicago
rburridge@rmbcap.com | 312-993-5810
Minimum account: $1 million
Typical account: $3-$10 million

See Frederick Paulman, above

Huber Financial, Buffalo Grove
dhuber@huberfinancial.com | 847-541-6888
Minimum account: $500,000
Typical account: $1-$3 million-plus

IN BRIEF: Offers financial planning and asset management, with preference for value investing in passively managed funds. "If your goal is to retire at 60 and you need X per month to live on, you'd rather find out now there's a shortfall than at age 59," says Huber, 51. "We can tell you what you need to do to get you there." At presstime Huber's firm was preparing to roll out "next generation" planning software, allowing clients to track, via computer, daily progress toward their financial plan

BULLISH CALL: For long-term investors, Huber likes small-cap value funds

Iron Financial Companies, Northfield
aaron1@ironfinancial.com | 847-386-1000
Minimum account: $250,000
Typical account: $1-$2 million

IN BRIEF: A former trader at the Chicago Board of Trade, Izenstark, 43, aims to deliver consistent investment profits in good markets and bad by using hedging strategies he learned on the exchange floor. No buy-and-hold money manager, he focuses on fixed-income vehicles (such as high-yield bond funds) and alternative investments for a clientele of individuals and other financial advisers looking for a defensive hedge for their clients. "It's ingrained in my DNA how to manage risk," Izenstark says. "We're strictly focused on protecting [clients'] assets.

Balasa Dinverno & Foltz, Itasca
mbalasa@bdfllc.com | 630-875-4900
Minimum account: $1 million
Typical account: $3.5 million

IN BRIEF: The firm's 700 clients include heavy doses of small-business owners and doctors. Range of services goes well beyond managing investment portfolios, says Balasa, 49. It involves bringing order to the client's balance sheet, including "income projections going into retirement, tax returns and estate planning documents, projections for kids' education, stock options, insurance," he says. "It's common for busy people to have all those pieces going in different directions. Our goal is to bring it all together.

Balasa Dinverno & Foltz, Itasca
adinverno@bdfllc.com | 630-875-4906
Minimum account: $1 million
Typical account: $2 million

See Mark Balasa, above

Altair Advisers, Chicago
sweinstein@altairadvisers.com | 312-429-3013
Minimum account: $5 million
Typical account: $5-$10 million-plus

IN BRIEF: From the ashes of Arthur Andersen, where Weinstein, 55, and partners formed an investing consulting practice, the firm has grown from $500 million in client assets in 2002 to $2.7 billion today. Provides high-net-worth clients with overall investment policy and asset allocation strategy. "We're constantly searching for the best and brightest managers in all the different asset categories," he says

Leonetti & Associates, Buffalo Grove
mleonetti@leonettiassoc.com | 847-520-0999
Minimum account: $2 million
Typical account: $6 million

IN BRIEF: Physician specialists make up the largest segment among 450 clients. Leonetti, 52, prefers the phrase "financial independence analysis" to "retirement planning." "People want to know that their money and expenses are structured so they're fine financially and independent of anyone or anything they can't control," he says. Allocating assets to achieve a customized plan for each client "gives peace of mind versus going in blind.

Relative Value Partners, Northbrook
bhuffman@rvpllc.com | 847-513-6300
Minimum account: $1 million
Typical account: $3 million

IN BRIEF: Because portfolio allocation determines performance, says Huffman, 48, "being in the right segments of the market is extremely important"—and the best way to do that is through exchange traded funds, he says. For the Wall Street pros who form a large chunk of its clientele, the firm also offers expertise in the neglected niche of closed-end funds, which trade on stock exchanges often at a 10- or 15-percent discount to their fair market value.