Richard Siskey has always had an uncanny ability to discern situations in advance, then devise and implement a strategic response accordingly. He honed those skills while becoming a chess master as a youngster, once even playing 10 opponents simultaneously.
In his arenas of competition, he says it’s the challenge and art form that motivates him.
After college, his game board became the financial markets. Now he’s got all the moves covered and is expanding his mastery of the challenge to other markets.
From the beginning, Richard Siskey envisioned a company that focused on the corporate marketplace. It would facilitate all the financial issues of high net worth individuals and entrepreneurs by providing the talent and skills under one roof.
Today, at age 41, his dream is quickly becoming a reality in Wall Street Capitol, a company that offers financial and estate planning with six divisions that facilitate the financial process. The divisions are insurance, investment, pension plans, employee benefits, investment banking and most recently, real estate.
“Wall Street Capitol offers comprehensive financial services as opposed to having a singular focus,” Siskey explains. “As a client moves between divisions or financial disciplines, it’s a hand-off as far as the talent level and expertise is concerned. Whether clients move between a business consultant and a CPA, or an insurance and pension plan specialist, the expertise is at an extremely high level. The people in each division have been trained in that field their entire lives providing over 25 to 100 years combined experience.”
All The Pieces
When he initially conceived the idea, Siskey found that nothing in the marketplace was comprehensive enough. Ultimately, this type of environment had to be created, he insists.
“No one had the whole picture at this level. When a client moved between financial divisions and areas of discipline something was lost in the talent level and skills set. But 15 years ago, when I would talk about this, people would look at me like I had ten heads.”
Wall Street Capitol targets high net worth and entrepreneurial clients, creating a personal client group. They usually come through referral by other high net worth entrepreneurs.
Stephen Rosenburgh, president of U.S. Land Investments in Charlotte, has been a client of Siskey’s for seven years and has seen the wisdom in Siskey’s vision firsthand.
“Very few small companies have seen this vision of the future — not just managing one product but managing the client’s income strength. Rick knows how to take a client’s income strength and deploy it to the client’s advantage by offering different investment options. But he’s also not a one-man band. He knows how to build a team.”
Rosenburgh sees Siskey’s integrity as the thread that binds the vision together.
“Integrity, without question, has to be number one in financial services. I have personally seen his integrity moved from words to action.”
Rank and File
According to Siskey, his clients are looking for a personal touch. “We’re a boutique and privately held. We think there’s a certain niche of the marketplace that wants a high touch approach. It’s like preferring a community bank to a national bank.
“In most business models, the financial consultant has to be all things to all people. There’s not enough meat on the bones there. Our financial counselors have six divisions to work amongst at any given moment.”
To accomplish this daunting task, Siskey brought his wholesalers inside.
“We identified the rainmaker wholesalers — the ones who make things happen — and brought them here. In the early days, I used to outsource 80 percent of my extra business. Now we insource 80 percent. It allows a great deal of control over the culture and environment.”
Siskey sees his team at the level of their clients, understanding their financial issues.
“We’re business-planning specialists applying for primary financial advisors. If Wall Street Capitol is doing its job correctly, we will receive the first phone call in any financial area.”
For Craig Cass, president of Casco Inc. of North Carolina, that’s a given.
“When we started working together five years ago, I found Rick’s key trait
to be his ability to understand our needs and help us move in the right direction. He’s also an entrepreneur at heart and is constantly bringing dynamic and fresh ideas to us. Then Rick follows through on those ideas. You don’t find that often today, and in my business it’s priceless.”
In April Siskey moved the company to their new 75,000 square foot, four-story building at 4521 Sharon Road. Wall Street Capitol occupies 17,000 square feet on the fourth floor.
“The office has everything I ever wanted,” Siskey smiles. “This should be an extension of our client’s businesses and homes.”
That includes lots of marble, mahogany and leather. But, as is his trademark, Siskey does it like no one else. For example. the media room, with stadium style seating and international satellite capabilities, and the conference room both offer touch of the button controls. Soft recessed lighting creates a soothing and peaceful environment along with lush carpeting to capture any escaping sounds, a harmony of subdued color, a 350-gallon saltwater fish tank and a distant view of the downtown Charlotte skyline.
Although the company is just a year old, within the next 90 days it will open offices in Atlanta, Ft. Myers and Chicago, giving the regional firm anational presence. By 2001, Siskey anticipates offices in Nashville, Boston, New York City and Dallas as well.
“Taking Wall Street Capitol to the national level is the biggest challenge I’ve faced in my career,” Siskey confides. “I’ve had this vision for 20 years. The greatest challenge now is how to maintain a version of Wall Street Capitol in each location.”
The key is finding local talent. Greenough doesn’t doubt other top-level producers will readily join the teams.
“I met Rick while I was a wholesaler trying to fit a lot of square pegs in round holes because we didn’t have the scope of the products that are available here or the ability to creatively mesh them,” he confides. “What impressed me most was Rick’s insight. He reads the lay of the land well.” Greenough figures they’re starting their national push from solid ground.
“Rick has brought continuity to our business. Our team doesn’t change.
This is a place for people who have outgrown their current business model as a financial consultant, and need extra services for their clientele. It’s for those looking for something deeper.
“If I have a client sitting in the conference room and a problem comes up involving another financial area, I can walk down the hall and pull in the people who can solve it.”
It may appear that building a new age financial empire would take all of Siskey’s time and attention. Not so. In fact, business is several items down on his priority list.
“Attainment of a goal is a second value. That fades,” he philosophizes.
“What it makes of you in the pursuit of it is of primary importance. What you make and get is temporary. What you become is permanent.
“Whatever you are going after, make sure you are creating something unique and special and you’re touching people’s lives. At the end of the day, that’s the only thing that’s gonna be remembered.”
Cass says that philosophy is lived out in Siskey’s life. “Rick’s one of a kind,” observes Cass, who values Siskey as a friend as well as business associate.
“In spite of how successful he is, he’s the type of guy you’d invite to a barbecue and enjoy sitting and talking with. He’s a person you’d introduce to your folks.
“Once I really got to know him, what stood out was that he is such a family guy. His wife Diane is a great partner for him and he obviously loves to be around her and his kids.
“Rick is a giver and our community benefits from that.”
All the Right Moves
Siskey has been involved in the YMCA, Queens College, Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools, United Way and numerous other non-profits. He says he specifically picked them because of their far-reaching impacts.
Dr. Billy Wireman, president of Queens College, met Siskey as a student while he and his wife Diane were attending the McColl School of
Business Executive MBA program.
“Rick issued a challenge to our alumni that he would match $1 million to help build the Sykes Learning Center. He understands the responsibility of wealth to reach out to strengthen those institutions like churches, colleges, hospitals and such that constitute the fabric of our society. And he has a special partner in Diane. She’s a very high-minded and decent person who supports him in all this. I’m proud to have them in the midst of our community.”
Their reason? “It’s important for any entrepreneur, professional and executive to be active in the community to make it a better place now and in the future,” Siskey says. “The level of leadership drives everything — home, churches, community businesses…their success is based on the leadership.”
“Rick has a tremendous reputation,” Greenough remarks. “In business, there are two or three main line players in town and people know him. He’s plugging into the fabric here.”