Greg: I began a career in financial services in 1985, with my formal training coming from E. F. Hutton & Co. which later became Shearson Lehman Hutton. I helped start a small investment firm in 1990, Washington Investment Corporation, where I met Bill. Washington Investment Corporation was sold to Capitol Securities Management in 1999; Joe Jianos (CEO) had a great reputation, we felt confident that we would be in good hands. The partnership Bill and I have under the Capitol Securities Management umbrella works well for all of us.
Bill: My background is actually in Mechanical Engineering, so I spent the first few years of my career working for Westinghouse. But, I’ve always been interested in Wall Street and how it operates. I realized that a career in financial services would be better suited to my entrepreneurial personality, and I haven’t looked back since. I joined Greg and his team at Washington Investment which was sold to Capitol Securities Management in 1999, and we’ve been with the firm ever since.
Greg: Well, it helps that neither Bill nor I have a blemish on our compliance record, which is testament to doing business the right way. Our clients had been with us through the rise and fall of the markets– ’87, the early 90’s, ’94, ’97—we had earned their trust and the response was overwhelmingly favorable.
Bill: Especially since the financial debacle of 2008-2009, clients understand that the size of a company has no correlation to safety. Big Wall Street firms are not safer than small, mid-size firms. In the end, clients are hiring their advisor, more than a firm.
Bill: Talk to any advisor in the firm, and you will hear the same word again and again—freedom. We not only have the freedom to run our business as we see fit within the confines of our industry’s regulations, but we also have time freedom. I’m a single father with three kids, and Capitol Securities is flexible regarding my situation; I decide where and when I want to work.
Greg: We do have a lot of freedom, and it also extends to getting creative in the way we deliver our services. For example, when a client asked us to oversee and advise on corporate investments held and managed by other investment firms, Senior Management was open minded and worked with us to develop the ways and means to do so. It’s becoming more commonplace these days, but at the time, we were pioneering a new service model. It’s refreshing when Senior Management doesn’t shy away from that kind of forward-thinking.
Bill: I heard that Google has a really great benchmark they use when hiring team members. They ask: “Can I spend eight hours stranded in an airport with this person?” Capitol Securities uses a similar approach. Not only do I know more than half of the advisors in the firm by first name, I know about their kids. Capitol Securities hires likeable people, and I rarely hear of personality conflicts as a result. It’s a collaborative environment; advisors talk to each other and help each other. I can call anyone in this firm and ask for their expertise.
Greg: The firm has grown a lot since we first came on board, but Senior Management has been very careful to balance the culture with the growth. They have an open-door policy and they encourage individuality. For example, I wear a suit and tie every day because I choose to do so. Bill is my partner, and yet, he prefers a more casual approach.
Bill: To add to what Greg said about the open-door policy, just yesterday we called and requested a conference call with the CEO and CFO. Five minutes later, they were on the phone with us. Where else would that happen?
Bill: This is not a firm for the ultra-aggressive, nor is it appropriate for those who like to be told what to do or what to sell. It is a moderate, collaborative, family atmosphere. There is no arrogance here.
Greg: Absolutely. You have to be self-directed, driven, and entrepreneurial. This is not an environment where you will be told to make a certain number of calls or focus on a specific product.
Greg: I tend to focus on market and business-related books, but recently I’ve been reading text books. I’m currently studying for an Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS) designation through the College for Financial Planning. Capitol Securities is very pro-education and reimburses financial advisors for business-related accreditations.
Bill: Like Greg, I’m an avid reader of financial publications, but I also enjoy the occasional Tom Clancy novel.
Bill: I love to travel, and in the past two years I’ve been to Rio, Jamaica, St. Thomas, Cancun, Vail and Ireland. I try to schedule at least two trips per year. What’s next on my list? Maybe Italy or Scotland.
Greg: I used to be an avid traveler, but I have two young children—ages 5 and 2. Lately, I’ve been restricted to arm-chair travel, following Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America wherever they may go.