J. Michael Salley
I grew up in a tough Inner-city neighborhood in New York. As a young teenager, I looked at my peers and at how people around me were living and said, "This is not for me. There's a lot more our society has to offer."
Fortunately, I was not alone.
Behind me were strict, tough, and hard-working parents who believed in my dream to be as successful as I possibly could.
My good grades got me to Queens College of The City University of New York. I majored in both American history and political science with the goal of going on to law school.
An unexpected twist...
But then life took an unanticipated but wonderful turn when a friend told me about an unusual opportunity. Back in 1978, Merrill Lynch set up a program to find minority and female candidates to train for responsible positions in the firm.
I was selected for the program and subsequently hired. Looking back I think my first manager recognized my hunger to learn and to succeed.
And from day one I had a deep love for the business.
I used to hang out with the older guys in the firm and soak up everything they did. The best advice I got came from one advisor who said, "Listen, Mike, don't try to be a millionaire overnight. If you do the right thing by your clients, you'll be in business for the rest of your life."
"Doing the right thing by my clients" To me that meant, first, to be trustworthy.
Now more than 35 years later, (although my parents have been dead for many years) I still make sure that everything I do will make my parents proud.
Second, I tune into my clients' desires.
I've learned to stay quiet and listen. I want to know who you are and what you are looking to accomplish.
I guess you could say I've become a "counselor" to my clients.
I have practiced at several major brokerage firms — Merrill Lynch, UBS/Paine Webber, Prudential Securities, and now as an independent office of Cantella & Co., Inc. Currently, I'm licensed in 18 states across the country (AL, CA, DC, FL, GA, IL, MA, MN, MS, NC, NJ, NY, PA, SC, TN, TX, VI and WI). In addition, I am a licensed insurance agent in South Carolina, New York and 8 other states.
A major area of focus for my practice is retirement planning both for businesses and individuals.
My experience can be summed up by my credentials. Yet, these are only facts . . . important facts that can suggest an outcome. You will be working with a person, though, so I'd like to sum up who I am with these words:
Simply, I honor the uniqueness of every individual relationship and strive to achieve what is most important to my clients.