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South Carolina's No. 1 Financial Advisor

In Barron’s magazine’s annual list of America’s Top 1,000 Financial Advisors on a state-by-state basis, Washington and Lee alumnus and trustee Hagood Ellison, of the Class of 1972, ranks as South Carolina’s top advisor.

This is the third consecutive year that Hagood has been on the Barron’s list, and he’s No. 1 in the state this year based on Barron’s rankings. Factors weighed are assets under management, revenue produced for the firm, regulatory record, and quality of practice and philanthropic work. As Barron’s notes, “Investment performance isn’t an explicit component because not all advisors have audited results and because performance figures often are influenced more by clients’ risk tolerance than by an advisor’s investment-picking abilities.”

In describing the state of financial advising at the moment, Hagood told Barron’s that clients are still “shell shocked” by the financial crisis. “They are still desperate for guidance and direction,” he added. “All year we were making sure clients had the correct recovery strategy in place, and we were doing risk audits on their portfolios. People still don’t understand risk.

“Sometimes can assume that clients are looking for ‘lights out’ returns,” he added. “But that’s not what they want. The pain of losing money is much more than the excitement of the upside.”

Hagood joined Merrill Lynch in 1976. He focuses on investments, income management and retirement solutions for Ellison Kibler & Associates in Columbia, S.C.

In addition to W&L’s board, Hagood has served on the board of the Columbia Museum of Art and the Center for Cancer Treatment and Research, and serves now on the local board of the Boy Scouts. He received the Merrill Lynch Lifetime Community Achievement Award in 2003.