Back in 1976, while other teenagers had started obsessing over the newest style of music, punk rock, 16-year-old Louis M. Ricciardi was grooming himself to be a financial advisor. Hipping classmates to the Rule of 72, he was touting the benefits of investing at a young age.
Buddies blew off that idea, but the precocious youth took his own advice. Indeed, the following year he began buying Exxon and Coca-Cola three or four shares at a time — and has continued to buy them till this day, though in far larger blocks.
An FA for 30 years now, he heads the Ricciardi Financial Group, in historic Taunton, Mass., 40 miles south of Boston. Affiliated with Raymond James Financial Services, the three-person practice manages $220 million in assets.
A longtime wirehouse veteran, Ricciardi carved out an unlikely niche at age 24 operating like an independent in a Dean Witter one-person satellite branch in the small town of Taunton, founded by Plymouth Colony members in 1637.
“There are a lot more high-net-worth people here than are concentrated in the cities — and they’re a lot more quiet about what they have,” notes the peppy Massachusetts native, 51, who winds down by baking blue-ribbon-winning pies given to clients on birthdays, Thanksgiving and at customer appreciation events.
“I enjoy baking because you can’t speed it up, compared to Wall Street, which is at hyperspeed. It’s a nice juxtaposition to that environment,” he says.
Ricciardi started out in a large Shearson-American Express office in the city of Brockton, Mass. But moving to Dean Witter three-and-a-half years later, he was set on locating as a one-man outpost in industrial Taunton.
“I grew up in the area and felt I had much more of a presence in a smaller community,” he says. “I saw opportunity. Why not bring professional investment services there and not just assume everyone wants to go into the big city?”
Today, two-thirds of Ricciardi’s clients are retirees or pre-retirees. He focuses on fixed-income management — especially tax-free municipal bonds — and enjoys a robust 401(k) plan business.
George LeRoy, 92, an affluent 25-year client and former president-chair of the Taunton-based Bristol County Savings Bank, calls Ricciardi “the smartest, most capable, honest fellow you could possibly have. He never tries to sell anything to get the highest commission. I have ideas on what I want to buy. He keeps searching and when he gets it, presents it to me. I’ve known a lot of movers and shakers, but Lou is tops.”
His key philosophy: Investing needn’t be as complicated as he believes Wall Street tries to make it. “There are so many bells and whistles, fancy-shmancy plans and being wrapped up in the Internet and gee-whiz things. But I’ve found that the real money isn’t looking for the dazzle — they’re looking to understand, for consistency and for folks who will answer questions.”