Sameer Somalage 30

Chief financial officer, Blue Ocean Global Wealth

I am an Idealist

40 Under 40
40 Under 40

I am a Leader

40 Under 40
Leaders

I am a Trailblazer

Trail Blazers

I am an Entrepreneur

40 Under 40
Entrepreneurs

I am a Visionary

40 Under 40
Visionaries

I am an Idealist

40 Under 40
Idealists

Meet the Leaders

Whether in their own firms or in their communities, these young people are leading the charge toward innovation in financial planning, bringing new opportunities to advisers and clients alike. Here, they share the best leadership advice they’ve received in their careers.

Meet the Trailblazers

This group doesn’t subscribe to groupthink. They are spearheading new ways of practicing and delivering financial advice — in some cases reaching populations previously considered unprofitable to serve. We ask them about the most unique and unusual ideas they’ve had.

Meet the Entrepreneurs

In addition to helping clients reach their financial goals, some in the advice industry face the challenge of running a business or a team. Others have started companies to support this pursuit. These young people are flourishing amid the balancing act — and some got an early start.

Meet the Visionaries

It’s not about what is, but what will be — and what can be — the future of the financial planning industry for this group of forward-looking advisers, educators and executives. Their insights pull the rest of the profession into the next stratum.

Meet the Idealists

Life experiences shape our ideals, especially for these young professionals who see challenges in the advice industry and the world — and set out to meet them. They also have words of wisdom for the next generation.

About Sameer

Sameer Somal is passionate about helping financial advisers develop a better finish for their working lives than dying with their boots on.

Women at Work: A Guide for Men @joannelipman @wsj http://t.co/CyK54ZjZRhWednesday, Dec 17, 2014 9:26PM @BlueOceanGW

As chief financial officer of Blue Ocean Global Wealth, Mr. Somal spends about two weeks a month on the road, meeting with advisers to discuss and develop exit strategies aimed at maximizing value for their heirs and establishing a legacy.

Industry-wide, more than half of advisers don't have a succession plan, and most don't even know the value of their business, according to Mr. Somal.

"Advisers create valuable plans for their clients' retirement but don't plan for their own," he said.

The CFO makes the case for succession planning in adviser presentations around the country, a plea Blue Ocean outlined in a white paper last year. Some advisers say his talk has spurred them to action no easy feat, given the depths of this industry's conundrum.

Blue Ocean, a registered investment adviser Mr. Somal co-founded with former Ameriprise Financial adviser Marguerita Cheng in November, has the atypical mission of helping other financial advisers. In the spirit of "Blue Ocean Strategy," (Harvard Business Review Press, 2005), which encourages entrepreneurs to target novel business models, the firm provides innovative solutions to help families, corporations, institutions and financial advisers with financial guidance and investment strategies.

Mr. Somal, who built two businesses while earning his bachelor's degree in finance and accounting from Georgetown University, was an adviser for Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, as well as an investment analyst for the Bank of Nova Scotia.

He has also attained both the chartered financial analyst and certified financial planner designations.

Liz Skinner

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Fast Facts

  • Favorite social network is handwritten letters and notes
  • Keeps African and South American cichlids as pets
  • Growing up, wanted to be a cardiothoracic surgeon