Robert Fragasso / Fragasso Financial Advisors, Chairman and CEO

What drives you up the wall? "When I'm unable to find the key to open someone's mind to accept the vision I am trying to promulgate."

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When Robert Fragasso became a financial adviser in 1972, his vision of how the financial services industry should be serving clients was very different from what was standard at that time.

Stockbrokers mainly worked the telephones making cold calls, collecting commissions on transactions and selling products that yielded the highest revenue for them and their firms. But Mr. Fragasso, 67, foresaw a future where he could work solely for and holistically with people who needed guidance on managing their money.

While he was not alone in that way of thinking, he was in a distinct minority of financial advisers who accepted and embraced that way of doing things.

"I was one of the early ones," said Mr. Fragasso, chairman and CEO of Fragasso Financial Advisors, Downtown. "I was one of the founders of the idea of working for the client as opposed to the other interests in the transaction, such as the product purveyor or the commission sales organization.

"I went out and met with people, learned about their situation and constructed plans for them way before it was fashionable, because I was working for the client. That was very different."

The investment industry has come around since then. Now most wealth management firms provide advice on a fee basis rather than receive commissions on investments they sell. But Mr. Fragasso was an early instigator who led the field in adopting that change when he established his own firm in 1996, which today manages about $820 million in assets for individuals, institutions and government workers.

Mr. Fragasso has served on the board of Animal Friends for 20 years, and his firm sponsors an elective course at Urban Pathways Charter School, Downtown, for high school students interested in learning about financial literacy and entrepreneurship.

He says the key to his leadership success has always been to start with a clear vision of what must be done and work toward making it happen with cooperation of others.

"The first dynamic of a good leader is the ability to inspire those that follow the leader with his or her vision of what should be," he said. "If you don't do that, I don't believe you can be an effective leader. You can be a manager. You can be an effective operating officer. But you can't be a leader unless you can inspire those that you wish to lead with your vision and passion."


-- Tim Grant: or 412-263-1591


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