For more than 35 years, high net worth individuals, families, and select institutions on Long Island and beyond have gained the respect and trust from First Long Island Investors’ unique perspective on wealth. It’s a confidence that comes from having a team of advisors committed to the values set by Robert D. Rosenthal, Chairman, CEO, and CIO, and Ralph F. Palleschi, President and COO, when they founded the firm in 1983.
Robert D. Rosenthal said, “It all began with the experience and lessons learned from the Entenmann’s bakery business. The Entenmann family had put all of their wealth into the bakery. I was concerned that they needed some diversification so, given my background as both a lawyer and an accountant, I thought going public would be a way for them to diversify. The successful public offering in May of 1976 created liquidity for the Entenmann family which we were then responsible to help invest and that is where the concept of investing came in. From that, Ralph (who had been the lead auditor with KPMG on the IPO) joined me a few years thereafter and we were responsible for helping to manage the Entenmann family fortune while still running the bakery. When we ultimately sold the bakery to the Warner-Lambert Company in 1978 it created additional liquidity for the family, which they entrusted to Ralph and me.”
Together the two managed the Entenmann family wealth while attending to a wide variety of services beyond investing, including multigenerational planning, estate planning, tax advisory, and philanthropic planning. This is when the concept of First Long Island Investors came together. They saw that other Long Island families could be well-served with a wealth/ investment manager who understands all the facets of wealth without the need to travel to New York City.
“The expertise we gained made us attractive to similar clients— business owners, entrepreneurs, and wealthy families,” says Palleschi. “We became well-known for delivering on our core principles of trust, service, and performance.”
A Client-Centric Approach Exemplary service and a particular approach to asset allocation are at the core of First Long Island Investors’ success.
“We begin with an in-depth analysis of a client’s holdings and an understanding of his or her long-term goals. We then build a customized asset allocation recommendation that takes into consideration risk tolerance, liquidity needs, current income needs, and time horizon,” Rosenthal explains.
“From there, we make specific strategic recommendations,” Palleschi continues.
One critical differentiator for First Long Island Investors is that the firm’s senior management invests their own assets side by side with their clients.
“When we say we understand our clients’ goals, it’s because we share them ourselves,” Rosenthal says. “At First Long Island Investors, we put our money where our advice is. We look for quality in any company, or any piece of real estate that we would invest in for ourselves and our clients. I want to emphasize that we will never put a client in an investment that we are not personally invested in.”
Of course, communication and transparency are also paramount to the firm’s commitment to service excellence. The team takes service seriously, building long-lasting relationships, scheduling regular reviews of all clients’ portfolios and recommending adjustments as warranted. Calls are returned quickly, and the firm has even introduced a wealth management hotline through which clients can reach a senior team member after hours or on weekends.
Edward Palleschi, Senior Vice President, Wealth Management shared that since he joined First Long Island Investors over 15 years ago it has been ingrained in him to always put your clients first. “Bob and Ralph have created a culture to always service all your clients very well. They have taught the entire team that if you get a phone call from somebody you should return that phone call as soon as you can. It is imperative to develop a professional relationship with each client. So, the concept of trust… the concept of professionalism… no matter what the task…you should always try to do that as best you can and as quickly and efficiently as you can.”
Today the Entenmann families are still clients and their multiple generations count on the entire team at First Long Island Investors to provide them with sound advice and guidance on all of their wealth management needs but they are a modest piece of the overall business. Over 200 families and individuals across the tristate area and beyond have come to rely on the investment philosophy and wealth management services of First Long Island Investors.
According to Philip Malakoff, Senior Vice President, Wealth Management and Director of Research a customized, prudent asset allocation is one of the main reasons clients come to and stay with First Long Island Investors. “We pride ourselves in customizing an asset allocation for each client based upon their particular circumstances and nobody is treated in a cookie-cutter way. We review each and every client’s asset allocation on a quarterly basis where an investment committee of nine people sits in a room and discusses what is right for each client given their individual situation and goals as well as the macro-economic and market factors at hand. That high touch service philosophy is critically important in terms of communicating with clients and making sure that we understand their needs and their goals, while keeping them up to date on performance and our thinking. All of this is reflected in their customized asset allocation.”
As for the vision for the future of First Long Island Investors, Rosenthal says the key ingredients to future success are staying true to long-held ideals and to following a recipe that stresses investing in quality companies, the importance of frequent client communication, and proper asset allocation while adjusting to the times and making sure that client goals and immediate needs are met – in person, over the phone, online, etc.
“The future of the company is based on values and lessons from the past. We have a very high service ethic. The asset allocation that we talked about has been critically important to make sure that our clients do not make emotional decisions in their long-term investments –it is quite typical to become afraid when there is volatility but if you have the right asset allocation, which we put together for each client, the tendency to make emotional mistakes is reduced significantly and that leads to the ability for our clients to compound their wealth for long periods of time. That is how they maintain and grow their wealth above the rate of inflation and after taxes are paid.”