Driven by his passion to help clients reach their goals, Vice President/Investments William Manchester rises to the challenge
by Dana Dobson

William Manchester makes it look easy. Appearances aside, few people would realize the amount of time and dedication it takes to excel as an entrepreneur in the financial services industry while maintaining strong family ties and serving the community.

His day starts at 4:30 a.m., and he doesn’t stop until he accomplishes everything he has set out to accomplish. Attacking each day with vigor and a success-oriented mindset, he enjoys living in the occasional whirlwind.

“I believe execution starts and ends with me,” Manchester says. “When I start something, I’ve got to finish it.  It’s a tremendous amount of fun for me, and I love the challenge.”

Manchester’s team, The Manchester Group, is a team at Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, member SIPC & NYSE.  Stifel’s mission is to furnish financial services that are a true value to clients.

Manchester was born with an entrepreneurial spirit, a drive to succeed and a passion to make companies grow.  Formerly, he owned a tree service, a mail service and florist shop.

“It wasn’t because I loved trees or flowers but because I like building a business,” he says. “Being a financial services professional is the greatest job for me, because every day I get to run my own book of business and serve my clients’ financial needs.”

During his nonfinancial entrepreneurial days, Manchester was a gardener for the wife of Andrew L. Lewis Jr., chairman and CEO of Union Pacific Corp., as well as former Secretary of Transportation in the Reagan Administration. At the time, Lewis would travel by chauffeur-driven limousine every other day to attend board meetings in New York City. One day, when the regular limo driver didn’t show up, Lewis asked Manchester to do the driving—and it turned out to be a turning point in Manchester’s life.

“I’m really going to miss him—he was one of the most influential forces in my life,” Manchester says of Lewis, who passed away in February at the age of 84. “During those two-hour rides, we’d talk about everything, and we got to know each other well. One day, he asked me to wear a suit and to join him in his meetings. People didn’t know that I was actually his gardener; he told them I was his financial advisor. On the way home, he’d ask my opinion of the meeting and then listened intently to my answers.”

Lewis asked Manchester why he wasn’t working in financial services, as it was clear that Manchester had the talent and the drive. Manchester explained that he had three years of horticultural experience from Delaware Valley University in Doylestown and was going to open a flower shop.

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

Lewis “fired” Manchester as his gardener and offered to pay for his financial education. Manchester took eight classes per semester and, in three years, earned a degree in finance and business administration from Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

“The lessons I learned from [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, and 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. “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.”

Manchester got up an hour earlier in the morning so he could take on a second job as a way to support his family. Meanwhile, he remained staunchly supportive of his clients, working long hours and helping them to make the right financial decisions.

Manchester’s clients are fiercely loyal, he says, because of trust. Clients have access to him 24/7, and he gives them his cell phone number. Manchester returns every phone call.

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

Manchester helps clients with retirement and investment plans from the array of products available from Stifel. In the last few years, he has grown his practice to setting up 401(k) programs for small to mid-sized businesses. He enjoys the opportunity to build relationships with each organization’s employees.

“I offer services to the employees not everyone does, such as free financial planning, free college financial analysis and more,” Manchester explains. “The employees love it. I don’t get that 401(k) treatment at my own job. I visit the place of business every quarter for an entire day and provide guidance to employees on whatever they need.”

As part of his due diligence, Manchester spends time discovering his client’s risk tolerance, time horizon and ultimate goals. He evaluates each client’s financial plan every year and makes adjustments if necessary. Client portfolio plans are reviewed daily, weekly and monthly.

“I love educating my clients,” Manchester says, “because once we’re both on the same page, they know I provide incredible service and do my best to keep them informed. It’s the way I build trust.”

Married with three children, Manchester spends Saturdays and Sundays driving around to his children’s ballgames and sporting events; he calls himself a “weekend taxicab.” He is also president of Hunter Soccer Club, a nonprofit soccer league based in Montgomery County with approximately 1,500 children participating.

“I love sports because it’s a way to give back to the community,” says Manchester. “In a way, sports and business are alike, and for me, it’s the best of both worlds.”

William Manchester
20 Ash Street, 4th Floor
Conshohocken, PA 19428

About Stifel
Stifel Financial Corp. (NYSE: SF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, that conducts its banking, securities and financial services business through several wholly owned subsidiaries. Stifel clients are served through Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated in the United States, through Stifel Nicolaus Europe Limited in the United Kingdom and Europe, and through Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. in the United States and Europe. The company’s broker-dealer affiliates provide securities brokerage, investment banking, trading, investment advisory and related financial services to individual investors, professional money managers, businesses and municipalities. Stifel Bank & Trust offers a full range of consumer and commercial lending solutions. Stifel Trust Co. N.A. offers trust and related services. To learn more about Stifel, visit the company’s website at www.stifel.com.

Photograph by Jody Robinson