William Manchester, the founder of The Manchester Group of Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, helps business owners and their employees work toward a bright future.
Formal schooling aside, William Manchester acquired some of his most valuable education while behind the wheel of his former boss’s Jaguar. One might even say the experience changed his life, because it put him on the path toward becoming a trusted financial advisor to business owners and other individuals throughout the Greater Philadelphia Area.
Manchester’s career as a financial advisor began rather unexpectedly. At the time, he was digging in the dirt, quite literally, working as a gardener. His client: the wife of Andrew L. Lewis Jr., chairman and CEO of Union Pacific Corp., who also served the Reagan Administration as Secretary of Transportation. Back then, Lewis was traveling by chauffeur-driven limousine every other day to attend board meetings in New York City. There came a day when the regular driver did not show up, and Manchester was asked to play the part. That day became a turning point in Manchester’s life.
“He was one of the most influential people I’ve ever met—maybe the most influential in my life,” Manchester says of Lewis, who passed away in 2016. “During those car rides, he and I got to know each other very well. One day, he asked me to wear a suit and join him in his meetings. The other people in the room didn’t know that I was actually his wife’s gardener; he told them I was his financial advisor. On the way home, he asked me why I wasn’t working in financial services, because he seemed to think I would have a talent for it. To be honest, that kind of work wasn’t even on my radar at the time.”
Manchester recalls explaining to Lewis that he had three years of experience in horticulture from Delaware Valley University in Doylestown. He also told Lewis his goal was to open a flower shop.
“He said, ‘That’s great, but you should do that when you retire,’” Manchester recalls. “He told me I needed to make some money first and I could do so by getting into the financial services business. And he thought I would like it because I seemed to have a real interest in it.”
From that point forward, Manchester stopped working as a gardener and went about pursuing his financial education; Lewis even offered to foot the bill. Within three years, Manchester earned a degree in finance and business administration from Temple University’s Fox School of Business. He learned a great deal in business school, but some of the most important lessons came to him during those two-hour drives to Manhattan.
“I learned a lot about life and about business from [Lewis], and I’ve put just about everything he taught me into my practice,” he says. “Things like: make lists; strive to be the best at what you do; be the first one into the office every morning; get involved; make time for the things that are important to you; do your due diligence on every project you undertake.”
Coming Full Circle
Now, it’s not uncommon for Manchester to start his workday before dawn—he’s up by 4:30 or 5 a.m.—and his day ends only after he’s crossed off everything on his to-do list. These to-do items invariably include meeting with clients to manage retirement plans and investment portfolios through his Radnor-based advisory team, The Manchester Group of Janney Montgomery Scott LLC. One area of specialty: setting up cost-efficient 401(k) programs for business owners and their employees.
“I want business owners to know I can work with them on setting up these plans at the lowest cost possible, because I want to get in front of their employees and show what I can do for them,” he says. “I can certainly help with other things, too, such as retirement planning or saving for their children’s college education through 529 plans. I visit the client’s workplace every quarter to provide guidance for employees on retirement planning, insurance or whatever they need. Each interaction is an opportunity to build trust and deepen the relationship.”
In addition to 401(k) plans, Manchester enjoys crafting comprehensive financial plans for clients. As part of his due diligence, Manchester acquires an understanding of each client’s risk tolerance and long-term goals, as well as the things in life that are most important to them—from their children’s education to a stress-free retirement to the ability to use one’s wealth as a means to create a lasting legacy. Only then does he put the pieces of the financial plan together, utilizing products and tools available to him through Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, which is headquartered in Philadelphia. He evaluates plans with clients at least once a year, making adjustments as needed.
“Those in-person meetings are among the most enjoyable facets of the job, because I love educating my clients,” he says. “When it comes to financial planning, I do my homework to make sure I understand what’s important to each individual, and I like to educate them so they understand how they can work toward their goals. With the 401(k) plans, it’s a win-win for the employers because they can save money by having me set up the plans, and their employees get the guidance they need to save for the future.”
In a way, life has come full circle for Manchester. His journey began behind the wheel of Andrew Lewis’s car, learning lessons from a client who would ultimately became a trusted mentor. While he’s still spending much of each workday in the car, now he’s driving between the offices of satisfied clients. And when he’s not working, Manchester is either spending time with his family or getting involved in supporting philanthropic causes and local charities, as well as Hunter Soccer Club, a youth-sports organization headquartered in Glenside.
There’s another key difference between past and present in Manchester’s life: Back then he was the beneficiary of his mentor’s generosity and insight. Now he’s the one who’s providing informed advice to those who need it, setting them up to succeed in their pursuit of a bright future.
The Manchester Group of Janney Montgomery Scott LLC
150 N. Radnor Chester Road, Suite B100
Photography by Jody Robinson