Gary di Silvestri is the founder of Deutsche Suisse Asset Management, a privately-owned investment management firm. Gary has been in the financial investment arena since he graduated Magna Cum Laude from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service in Washington, DC. He began working after graduation at Morgan Stanley as a financial analyst in the Investment Banking Division. He continued his education, receiving his MBA at Columbia University’s School of Business. After completing his MBA, Gary accepted a position at Morgan Stanley in London as an associate with a focus on managing assets.
Gary’s experience in analyzing a potential investment began before he was even in high school. After beginning a paper route around age 10, Gary di Silvestri learned that he could increase his income by purchasing routes from other children. By the time he graduated high school, he had enough money saved to buy a car and help cover tuition for college.
In his free time, Gary di Silvestri enjoys staying in shape and traveling. He is also well-known for his philanthropic donations to various charities.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start in this business?
I started with a paper route at age 9-10. I began by buying one route and grew from there, purchasing others in the neighborhood and consolidating them to make them more efficient to deliver and collect payment. I ultimately sold the much larger, more efficient paper route for a reasonably good sum for a 12-year-old and started investing in the stock market. I originally followed my father, but that wasn’t working particularly well so I started doing my own research and that turned out to be very lucrative. It enabled me to purchase my first car and pay for the portion of college and graduate school not covered by scholarships.
How do you make money?
I continually identify and capitalize on opportunities that present themselves in the financial markets. My team and I keep an eye on all markets so we can gauge the next best step for our clients.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
We were immediately profitable since we started with an established client base. It was immensely helpful that we had that advantage when we first began. When dealing with other people’s money, they need to be fully aware of what you are doing and, more importantly, they need to trust that you are making the most educated decisions. The client base that we began with already had that security with me, so they made the transition without hesitation.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time when you doubted it would work? If so, how did you overcome that?
Yes, almost straight out of the gate we encountered a financial crisis that led us to question our investment strategy. At the time our strategy was still in the relatively early stages and we weren’t 100% clear on how to handle a financial crisis. We felt the impact along with most others but persevered, adapted and learned from our mistakes ultimately creating a better system on which to operate.
How did you get your first customer?
I directly contacted them and asked for a meeting to discuss our investment strategy. The meeting was to bring them on as potential investors for assets I was managing. The meeting went well, and they became and remained clients for many years.
What is one marketing strategy, other than referrals, that works well to generate new business?
In our business the best marketing strategy is performance. If you can consistently perform, it is very evident and clients seek you out.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
We had to decide how to adapt our investment strategy to capitalize on what we believed to be a violent overreaction to several events. While we weren’t altering our key investment tenets, it involved having the courage and foresight to alter the extent of our exposure. We did so and it proved to be a very wise decision.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
There are a few key principles that I’ve found to be essential in achieving success. The first is hard work. No matter what the task is, whether it be athletics, academics or your career, to be very successful at it you need to you be committed to it and work hard at it. There is simply no substitute.
The next component to success is you need to be relatively smart. This doesn’t mean that you have to be a genius. It simply means that you need to apply yourself.
The third component is you need to have a vision. What I mean by that is you will encounter many opportunities throughout your career. You need to have the foresight to identify or create those opportunities. The ability to create and implement ideas — ideas that may be different, but that make sense — is what will truly set you apart.
Finally, we all need a little bit of luck but remember that to some extent, luck is when ability and preparation meet opportunity. This isn’t easy, but undoubtedly doable. By combining hard work with intelligence and vision and throwing in a little bit of luck, and you will have the mix to be very, very successful.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Drastically outperforming the performance of the market during a considerable decline and then drastically outperforming on the subsequent upturn as well.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
The future of investment management will continue to be those that consistently outperform their benchmarks without taking on undue risk. I am excited about the ability of our strategy to do precisely this.
What business books have inspired you?
“Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller” by Ron Chernow. It was an interesting read to learn how someone in that time could become the ‘American Ideal’. He worked within the established rules of that time and took advantage of opportunities that made him successful. He created an empire from nothing and it shows the potential that we have.
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R Covey. This is an excellent resource for anyone who is trying to better themselves. It gives the reader good habits to follow. I refer back to it every so often, and I find that I still follow many of these principles.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
A sit-stand desk. I have always been very health-conscious and it helps keep me in a better position while I am working. I believe it actually also helps me to stay focused because it gives me more mobility while I am working as opposed to just sitting in a chair all day.