Building Trust
Bill Manchester, a gardener turned successful financial advisor, remains staunchly dedicated to growth
by Dana Dobson

William Manchester starts his day at 4:30 a.m., and he doesn’t stop until action items on his list are crossed off, clients’ needs are addressed, and his children are safely in bed.

“A mentor told me that every great leader makes lists,” says Manchester. “I live by my lists, and I believe execution starts and ends with me. When I start something, I’ve got to finish it.”

Manchester, a licensed financial advisor, is a member of The Manchester Group of Stifel, whose mission is to furnish financial services that are of true value to clients. Manchester was born with an entrepreneurial spirit, a drive to succeed, and a passion to make money. He previously owned a tree service, a mail service, and a floral shop.

“Being a financial services professional is the greatest job for me, because every day I strive to help my clients make money,” he says.

During his entrepreneurial days outside of the financial industry, Manchester was a gardener for the wife of Andrew L. Lewis Jr., chairman and CEO of Union Pacific Corp. and former secretary of transportation in the Reagan administration.

Lewis traveled by chauffeur-driven limousine to New York City every other day to attend board meetings. One day, the limo driver didn’t show up, so Manchester was asked to do the driving. It was the major turning point of his life.

“During those two-hour rides, we’d talk about everything, and we got to know each other,” Manchester recalls.

Manchester explained that he had studied horticulture for three years at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown and was going to open a flower shop.

“He said, ‘Why don’t you do that when you retire? You need to get into the financial world, and I think you’ll be really happy because I can see you have a passion for it,’” Manchester remembers.

Lewis offered to pay for Manchester’s financial education. Manchester graduated in three years, taking eight classes per semester to earn a degree in finance and business administration from Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

“The lessons I learned from ‘Drew’ [Lewis] are endless,” Manchester says. “I have put everything he taught me into my practice: Be the first one in the office; do your due diligence on every project; be the best; make lists.”

As successful as Manchester has become in the industry, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Early in his career, hard work didn’t seem to be enough.

“When I started in the industry, all the dot-com companies began collapsing,” Manchester recalls. However, “2008 was one of the most trying years of my life. Every single market was down—bonds, equity, housing. The stock-market collapse hurt a lot of people.”

Meanwhile, he remained staunchly supportive of his clients, working long hours and helping them make informed financial decisions.

Manchester’s clients are loyal, he adds, because of trust. Clients have access to him 24/7, including on his cellphone.  

“My clients come first,” he says. “They learn to trust me over time, because they realize I’m in this business to help them make money and pursue their financial goals. I never forget what I’m here to do.”

Manchester helps clients with retirement and investment plans from the huge array of products available from Stifel. As more businesses search for alternatives for their 401(k) programs, Manchester offers to prepare a free retirement plan for every individual in the company.

He spends time discovering each client’s risk tolerance, time horizon, and ultimate goals. He evaluates each client’s investment plan every year and makes adjustments when necessary. Client portfolios are looked at daily, weekly, and monthly.

“I love educating my clients,” Manchester says, “because once we’re both on the same page, there are fewer surprises, and that’s another way I build trust.”

Manchester believes that client relationships should be mutually beneficial for both the client and himself, and that win-win relationships are crucial for long-term success. Therefore, Manchester strives to understand his clients’ needs by putting himself in their shoes to get the best perspective on how to best serve the clients.

His clients may come first, but Manchester does not have a one-track mind. Married and with three children, Manchester spends Saturdays and Sundays driving around to his children’s ballgames and sporting events and calls himself a “weekend taxicab.” In addition, he is on the board of directors for the Hunter Soccer Club, a nonprofit soccer league with 1,500 participating children.

The Manchester Group
William T. Manchester | Vice President/Investments
Member SIPC & NYSE
Millennium One
20 Ash Street, Fourth Floor
Conshohocken, PA 19428

Photograph by Jody Robinson