At a small, family-owned boatyard in 1970s Long Island, New York, a young Joe Bilello sat, listened, and learned. Joe, then a teenager, spent many afternoons at the yard helping his family run the business, and there he often found an elderly gentleman named Graham perched peacefully on the back of his docked boat, book or magazine in hand. Graham didn’t look the part, in his deck shoes and casual clothes, but he was a powerful Wall Street financier with his own seat on the New York Stock Exchange. When Graham learned that Joe was interested in stocks, bonds, and the like, the two became fast friends, and Graham reveled in the chance to share his lifetime of wisdom. Joe, for his part, reveled in the chance to absorb it.
Graham had seen it all. He came of age in the Roaring 20s, lived through the Great Depression, survived war, and then felt the rev of America’s economic engine before watching its counterculture emerge. But Graham rarely talked about the many changes he’d witnessed. Instead, he spoke to Joe about the fundamental truths he’d seen endure through all the turmoil. Fundamentals of life, and fundamentals of finance.
And there – from the back of a boat that rarely left dock – Joe learned how to keep himself and his clients in calm financial waters even as storms swirled overhead.
Fast-forward to the turn of the next century. Investors and their advisors were riding high on the flimsy skin of a turgid tech bubble. But Joe, already 15 years into a successful career as the founder of Avanti Wealth Management, was on the hot seat. He was being called a dinosaur for clinging to the ideals of diversified portfolios and holistic financial planning when tech stocks were rewriting the rules of market performance. ”Asset Allocation is Dead” screamed the headlines in the trade journals. Joe’s clients were asking him point-blank why he wasn’t putting all their financial eggs into this magical new dot-com basket.
“I almost gave in,” says Joe, but he kept hearing Graham’s lessons ring in his ears.
A few months later, Joe looked like the smartest sailor at the dock.
Since 1986, Avanti Wealth Management has put these same fundamental, powerful investment and estate planning strategies to work for its clients. As a Registered Investment Advisor, Avanti Wealth Management operates with a fiduciary responsibility to put its clients’ well-being and goals above the interests of the firm itself, which is why Joe invests his time to get to know each client personally before he begins investing their dollars.
“Investing was a passion and a hobby for me, and I turned it into a career because I discovered I could use these skills to really help people,” says Joe. “My parents and I would come home from the boat dock to our immigrant Italian neighborhood on Long Island, and everyone around us was ‘family.’ Our friends, our neighbors, the people we did business with. We all took care of each other. We all helped each other, and that’s what I do now. I take care of my clients like they’re an extension of my family.”
Joe’s consultations usually begin with a few simple but stunningly powerful questions: What’s working? What’s not? What would you like to be different? Often, clients are well into their answers before the topic turns to dollars and cents, but those insights are the moorings to which Joe ties his financial plans.
“Wealth management is a process, not a product,” Joe says. “Sure, it’s investments, savings, Social Security, but it’s also about family, relationships, dreams, and realistic goals.”
Graham, as it turns out, was right all along. As different as the world can seem from one decade to the next, as varied as the portfolios of a billionaire and a working-class family can appear, there are immutable truths flowing through them all. Advisors need only know where and how to look. At Avanti Wealth Management, Joe and his team stand constant watch, always with their eyes on the promising horizon ahead.