William (Bill) Wilkinson has spent his entire career in the financial services industry. He grew up outside of Boston and graduated from Northeastern University in 1992 with a dual major in business management and international trade. “I basically took no elective classes at all,” Bill says. After graduation, he was accepted into the prestigious Master’s finance program at Boston University, which he ended up declining.
Nothing was given to Bill—he has worked hard for everything and he is grateful for that. He is a first generation American on his mother’s side; she was born in Portugal and grew up in North Africa. She spoke little English before moving to the U.S. and marrying Bill’s father, a Vietnam veteran unable to work much to provide for the family. Bill became the responsible one, helping his mother read and write out all the bills and other family correspondence. In order to attend college, he worked and got student loans and paid his own way.
One of the great joys of Bill’s life is being married to his high school sweetheart. He has known his wife, Renee, since 7th grade when they used to go to movies together as friends. But one cold, dark evening in February after the two got out of high school prep classes for their upcoming SATs, he gave her a ride home and they’ve been together ever since. In fact, Bill says he “wouldn’t have even considered applying for college” if it hadn’t been for Renee and her Ivy League family.
After high school, Renee studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology while Bill was at Northeastern, and after college, Bill followed her to New York City when she got a job there. He landed a competitive job literally on Wall Street—the firm’s address was 30 Wall Street—along with 29 other Ivy League guys at McLaughlin Piven Vogel, which specialized in selling fixed income bonds.
Together, Bill and Renee made $1,000 a month and lived in a $1,500 per month studio apartment. Within five months of moving to New York, only two of the original 30 new hires were left at Bill’s firm, and he was one of them. Within six months, Bill earned enough to support himself and his wife, and pay off his $75,000 student loan debt.
As a new hire starting out, Bill was a paid assistant to an actual advisor while he got licensed and gained more experience—Lloyd Pompeii was his mentor at McLaughlin Piven Vogel. Bill got in to work early and left at 10 pm at night. He began to “miss nature” because he was working indoors so much, and when J.C. McLaughlin began expanding the operation, against his mentor’s advice he went to San Francisco to open up one of their new offices there as an advisor. By that time, he and Renee had married and were expecting their first child.
His mentor was right, and he quit that job after a short time. He went independent, working for Round Hill Securities in California. The couple moved back to Boston briefly to be with family, but within a few years, Bill started his own firm in Phoenix—a more affordable place to raise their kids that was still on the West Coast. He has never looked back.