Joe De Sena, president Siena Wealth Advisory Group, Ameriprise Financial. Years in securities business: 34.

A little over 10 years ago, the parents of a client of ours came to our office to close their son's account.  We hadn't heard from them in a while and they gave us the unfortunate news that their son, Michael Magro, had experienced complications from leukemia and passed away. 

I saw this as a call to action — I was so distraught by the story and for the parents that I decided to help them start the Michael Magro Foundation. We work to make families' lives better while their children are battling this awful disease.

I learned about charity later on in my life, but the great folks and young people on my team learn about it every day and give 100%. As a result, we have helped so many people. It's always been more than just helping people retire. It's about making contributions to their lives in a way that has almost nothing to do with the money. Money is just the vehicle we use to give our clients the best possible quality of life.

When I was about six years old, my uncle took me to Wall Street for the first time. We went to the Chase holiday party, where I had the opportunity to meet the chairman at the time, David Rockefeller. I found myself so awed by how big those buildings were and I was so impressed with being there.  That's where it really started for me.

After that trip, my dad would buy stocks even though he worked on the Brooklyn waterfront. When I expressed interest, he told me how he went about it.  Years later, I studied at Baruch College and then got my master's degree in finance at Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y.

After the start of the Magro Foundation, I began running marathons and half-marathons. We have raised over $1 million dollars. In addition to running marathons, we have written grants that also raise funds for the charity and have put together a resource guide on how to best face the challenges of leukemia. I'm proud to say my whole team here at Siena Wealth Advisory Group was honored at the tenth anniversary of the Michael Magro Foundation at their Evening of Tasting and Giving Event late last year, where we raised over $80,000.

In my practice, we talk about how significance is more important than success. Success is self-focused. Significance is helping other people become successful. A funny thing happens when you realize that: You actually become extraordinarily successful.

As told to Maddy Perkins.


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