This article previously appeared in a publication by LPL Financial.
A conversation with LPL Program Leader Stacey Pittman
Stacey Pittman serves as executive vice president and managing director, BT Wealth Advisors located at the Bank of Tampa. Stacey is also an LPL Program Manager, and recently received the 2021 Top Producing Investment Program Award for programs with 5-10 advisors during the LPL Program Leadership Conference*.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Well, first and foremost, I’m a wife and a mom, and that occupies a lot of my time when I’m not working. My husband and I have five children, ranging from eight to 22.
In addition to the role I have leading the wealth management program at BT Wealth Advisors at the Bank of Tampa, I also personally service a $300M+ book of business. My clients describe me as very straightforward and authentic—what you see is what you get. That’s probably one of the qualities that’s most important in the wealth management industry because we’re in a business that’s founded on financial knowledge. When I think about the clients I serve, they can see, feel, and sense my honesty, and how much I care about them, and it creates a strong level of trust.
You’ve been in this industry for nearly three decades. Where did you start?
Well, I grew up in southern Florida, with hard-working parents who felt very strongly about my education. I went to a magnet school for science and math growing up, and I thought I wanted to be an engineer—until I got to college at Harvard University and multivariable calculus kicked my butt. I thought, “Why do I want to be an engineer again?” So, I decided to shift my focus to government, while taking economics classes on the side.
How did that turn into a career in wealth management?
My dad always subscribed to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, and in the back of each edition, it would list all of the top-performing mutual funds. He had a limited knowledge, but knew enough to explain the basics to me. Being a numbers person, I was intrigued.
When I graduated from college in 1997, like many of my peers, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. All I knew is that I had college loans, and I needed a job to make the monthly payments—and that I was intrigued by a career in finance, thanks to the many conversations with my dad about his Kiplinger’s magazines.
So, I applied to Raymond James, where friends from college had landed. I was able to get an interview, and an offer to join them as an investment banker. While I was there, I participated in a program they had where advisors would bring their top clients to the home office to meet executives and fund managers. I was so intrigued by the relationships the advisors had with their clients. Simultaneously, I was recognizing my own excitement learning the different aspects of financial planning, such as selecting my 401(k) investments and choosing my life insurance for the first time. I thought, “I can see myself doing this one day.” But I didn’t see a path to it at the time. I ended up transitioning into a portfolio manager role with Eagle Asset Management, and was there for 14 years until the opportunity to join The Bank of Tampa presented itself.
Tell us about your program.
Yes, I’m very fortunate. The investment program at the Bank of Tampa is such a great organization. We have a relatively small wealth management team—four wealth advisors, including myself. And we’re strong proponents of promoting within, so we have two sales assistants that are licensed and moving into advisory roles.
When I joined in 2014, we serviced $200M in overall AUM. And our hope—if the markets cooperate—is that we’ll hit $1B this year. We’re very close, and it’s all been organic growth.
What’s your secret sauce?
In general, the industry has evolved so much in the 25 years that I’ve been part of it. The investment management side has become commoditized with fee compression, and it’s become increasingly important to differentiate yourself. Differentiation and comprehensive wealth planning is truly our ‘special sauce.’
What does that look like in practice?
We partner very closely with our clients—many of which are business owners—and their other valued advisors, including their CPAs and estate planning attorneys. And we take a human-first approach.
For example, I had a client who sold her business in early January 2021. Within 10 days of selling her business, she lost her husband. Not once did I talk to her during the year with the intention of discussing how she will invest her funds. I knew she needed time to absorb all of the change and to grieve. We did let her know that with the sale of her business she now had a taxable estate, and we’d need to focus on estate planning first. While many advisors would’ve been trying to pressure this client, we paused, as it wasn’t in her best interest.
We embody our tagline, which is all about building relationships. And it’s why our client retention rate has remained in the high 90% range over the last five years.
You have a lot of heart for the clients you and your team serve.
We do. I think we’d all say that when we’re talking with a client about managing and investing their wealth, it’s like we’re having conversations with a friend. And we all care deeply about the Tampa community. Many of our officers are involved in various charitable organizations and participate in boards that have a strong impact on the Tampa community.
How does your partnership with LPL add value to your program?
We depend on LPL to have access to the best products and technologies to differentiate the client experience in a low cost way—and we know they’re on the cutting edge of where the industry is going in terms of those product offerings. We also deeply value the Financial Planning group, who have helped us navigate some of our more complex financial planning cases in real time.
Another resource we tap into thanks to our partnership with LPL is the LPL Research team—especially the ghost-written letters they produce. Some of our advisors send these letters monthly, while others use them every few months during times of volatility. It’s an easy touch point, and we’ve received strong positive feedback from the clients when they’re distributed.
We’ve covered a lot of ground today, Stacey. You certainly wear a lot of hats and have such a positive impact, not only on the program you manage—but those around you.
If you had any advice to give your 25-year-old self, what would you say?
I’d probably tell her to chill out a bit. She was probably running at 120 MPH because she had a list of things she wanted to accomplish, but she also had blinders on and she couldn’t really see anything other than the path she was on. But, it landed me here, and it all worked out.
* Award determined based on numerous quantitative and qualitative criteria including display of innovation, leadership in driving change and excellence in execution.
The views and opinions expressed by the LPL Financial Advisor(s) may not be representative of the views of other Financial Advisors and are not indicative of future performance or success. Neither LPL Financial nor the LPL Financial Advisor can be held responsible for any direct or incidental loss incurred by applying any of the information offered.
Securities and advisory services are offered through LPL Financial (LPL), a registered investment advisor and broker-dealer (member FINRA/SIPC). Insurance products are offered through LPL or its licensed affiliates. The Bank of Tampa and BT Wealth Advisors are not registered as a broker-dealer or investment advisor. Registered representatives of LPL offer products and services using BT Wealth Advisors, and are also employees of The Bank of Tampa. These products and services are being offered through LPL or its affiliates, which are separate entities from, and not affiliates of, The Bank of Tampa or BT Wealth Advisors. Securities and insurance offered through LPL or its affiliates are: