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Veteran Advisor is Unapologetically Old School

By Rita Raagas De Ramos April 12, 2017

This report is part of an ongoing series examining members of the FT 400 list of elite brokerage-based advisors. Compiled by FA-IQ’s sister publication Ignites Research, the rankings score FAs based on six criteria: total assets, asset-growth rates, experience, credentials, online accessibility and compliance records.

Pete Mahurin proudly describes himself as “old school.” An advisor at Hilliard Lyons since 1968, Mahurin is among the longest-practicing advisors and among the most loyal to one firm in this year’s elite pool of the Financial Times’ Top 400 broker-dealers.

“Everything about me is old school,” says the Bowling Green, Ky.-based advisor who manages around $1.3 billion.

Mahurin says he has never felt the need to use an iPad, laptop, a mobile app or powerpoint presentation to discuss investment strategies and products with his clients because like him, they are traditional in their ways. He says many of his clients have been with him from his early years as an advisor and are quite happy with the simplest explanations possible.

Eighty-five – or 21% -- of the FT 400 broker-dealer advisors are 60 years or older, including Mahurin. Only 42% of the advisors in this age group believe the need to ensure that technology tools are up-to-date and efficient is among the toughest challenges in their practice.

Mahurin says his aversion to using technology tools doesn’t reflect Hilliard Lyons, which has been upgrading client databases, customer relationship management systems, and investment software, among other things, over the years.

“Those are available to any advisor in the firm who wants to use them. It’s just not a big deal to me personally,” he says.

There are seven advisors at his Hilliard Lyons branch, and they range in age from advisors in their 20s to those in their 80s, Mahurin says. Hilliard Lyons, which manages around $38 billion, has around 400 advisors in 73 branches nationwide. Hilliard Lyons says Mahurin has been among the firms’ top revenue producers since 1972.

A high school math and physics teacher from a “rural poor” family prior to joining Hilliard Lyons, Mahurin didn’t think he had the typical background needed for a financial advisory job, but applied for the role anyway.

He sent Hilliard Lyons an unsolicited letter, applying to be a financial advisor, and much to his surprise, he got the job. The letter he sent later became part of a book about Hilliard Lyons and its history, published in 1998.

Mahurin believes what stood out in his letter – a trait he values most to this day – is his “good, old-school integrity.” In that letter, he identified not only his assets but also his liabilities. “I have no rich or influential friends or relatives and can bring your firm no business in that manner. My background is rural, and I am not in the country club set, the golf set, et cetera. What’s more, I have no intention or desire to be in it. The only organization to which I belong is church. I am poor at remembering names. I can see this might be a handicap.”

Pete Mahurin

Mahurin says he managed to earn Hilliard Lyons’ trust five decades ago when the firm hired him, and he’s been doing his best to establish and retain trust among his clients and prospects ever since.

“I see people, I talk to them, I listen to them, and I show them that I know how to manage money,” he says. “I build a relationship from scratch and develop it, the old-school way.”

It’s no surprise, therefore, that Mahurin values trust in his relationships with asset managers.

“I like to deal with people when I know something about them. I don’t like dealing with strangers. I put a lot of value in integrity and trust,” he says.

Mahurin notes the “lack of integrity in the financial world almost brought down the system” during the global financial crisis of 2008, and that’s partly why he supports the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, which purports to require advisors to act in the best interests of their clients.

“You cannot have a football game without a rule book,” he says. “It’s amazing to me how some people resist a rule book. Unfortunately, some people just don’t learn their lessons.”