by Susan Anderson
The day Les Quick graduated from St. Bonaventure University, his father shared more than a handshake with him; he shared the hard fact that the Quick family might have to declare bankruptcy — either that, or dare to go full force into the unfamiliar landscape of the discount brokerage business.
The family chose the latter.
Now, more than three decades later, Quick can say with confidence they made the right decision. What could have been a crisis became a successful family-run business that put its customers and employees first, and a family legacy of philanthropy and service that some say is unparalleled.
Quick & Reilly Group, Inc. became known not only for its accessibility through branch offices that eventually spanned the United States, but also for its people factor. Customers knew they could discuss their investments face-to-face with a broker. Employees knew they were doing more than just toiling away at a job. And outside of the office, the Quick name became known for its constant dedication to education and healthcare.
Continuing the Vision
Today, Les Quick and his six siblings hold fast to their parents’ tenet that people and the personal touch matter most in the course of a day. They also continue to support many of the charities their parents — Leslie C. Quick Jr. and Regina A. (Clarkson) Quick, who passed away in 2001 and 2006 respectively — supported during their life together.
Of the myriad organizations they champion, the most dear may well be Catholic charities. While the list of causes they support is long, of note is their continued commitment to the Inner-City Scholarship Fund in New York City (of which their father was a founding financial backer and trustee).
“Education is the way to help people get ahead,” Les says.
“My brothers and sisters and I sponsor two Catholic elementary schools in the South Bronx,” he adds, sharing that through the years they have refurbished classrooms and gymnasiums, replaced boilers, and continue to aid in keeping the cost of tuition down.
“Eighty percent of the people sending their children to these schools are living at or below the poverty line,” he explains. “They pay anywhere from $1,800 to $2,500 to have their child go to school there. You know they are sacrificing.”
There is genuine admiration in his voice as he talks about the parents who care about the education of their children and the low incidence of discipline problems among the students. “It is wonderful to support the schools,” he adds.
Giving In the Workplace
Les (or “Q3” as he signs his e-mails) is now a founding partner of Massey, Quick & Co., LLC, a wealth management firm in Morristown, N.J. Opened in 2004, the company has more than $1.5 billion under advisement, one half from foundations and endowments, the other from high-net-worth families and individuals.
He and founding partner Stewart R. Massey invest their money side-by-side with their clients and have developed a framework for evaluating money managers, both quantitatively and qualitatively. They employ a dozen people and operate the way Quick & Reilly did in terms of employee relations.
“The assets walk out the door every night, that’s the way I look at employees,” says Les.
“You have to be passionate about what you are doing, and you have to have fun,” he continues. “We have a lot of laughs in the office. We’re in a very serious line of work, but I don’t think you should take yourself too seriously. We just need to remember that we each have a job to do and no matter what that job is, it should be respected.”
That respect and concern creates a culture of giving in the workplace that extends back to the halcyon days of Quick & Reilly.
“My father allowed us to take time from the business to serve others,” Les recalls. “He also encouraged us to give to things that interested us.”
Ed Garry, SBU class of 1992, shares that “there was never a question” about volunteering during his 13-year employment with Quick & Reilly.
Garry, who is now vice president of business intelligence for Bank of New York Mellon, says there was always strong support for the employees — in their roles within the company and with the charities they chose to assist.
“As an employee, you just felt you were being looked after,” he says.
“The Quick family has the savvy to not only grow a small firm into one of the most profitable brokerage firms on Wall Street, but to recognize where opportunities exist in the ever-changing financial services industry,” Garry continues. “Couple that insight with an awareness of social responsibility, and the combination enhances the lives of so many people.”
From across the street to around the world the Quicks have turned compassion into service from the earliest moments of their success.
“One of the things that always struck me about Les and his family is their generosity. There is a true desire in this family for the deep health of people and the spiritual growth of individuals,” says Fr. Dan Riley, O.F.M., class of 1964, who lived two doors apart from Les on “First Dev” as minister-in-residence.
Thirty-plus years later, their friendship is strong, solid.
Fr. Dan witnessed Les’s marriage and has been with him “through all the ups and downs” of life.
Guardian and founding member of the friar community at Mt. Irenaeus (where Les made one of the first retreats, which became a prototype for all others), Fr. Dan says he is “blessed to be a part of three generations of the Quick family,” adding that he has “watched them carry and pass on the faith and goodness that Les learned from his parents.”
Les’s younger brother Christopher recently spent 10 days traveling to Ethiopia and Uganda with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in order to see “what all this money does for people so desperate.”
Joining him was Sarah, one of his four daughters. A graduate of Boston College where she was a faith, justice and peace major, Sarah plans to return to Africa once she earns her nursing degree.
What father and daughter discovered during their journey is that CRS “is a lean operation,” says Chris, meaning that the bulk of money donated goes to the actual charity.
“The people on the ground doing the work are locals,” he says, which empowers them. “They know the territory and the people.”
Shares Chris, “When you’re in Africa, you can’t focus on the overall problem because if you did you would be overwhelmed with grief and sorrow. Catholic Relief Services aims to help as many people as possible.”
Les’s wife, Eileen, first became involved with Operation Smile, “a worldwide children’s medical charity,” through their son Ryan.
“Operation Smile is one of the few organizations that allow high school students to participate on medical missions,” says Eileen. “The students must attend a leadership conference and mission training before being selected for a mission. They must also belong to a school club that raises awareness and funds for Operation Smile.”
Ryan joined a mission to Vietnam when he was a senior in high school. The experience changed his life. He witnessed how a simple surgical procedure dramatically changed the lives of children who were born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities, says Eileen.
And he got his family involved.
Today, Eileen is a trained student sponsor, has participated in several missions (to Thailand, Honduras and the Philippines), and is proud to share that their daughter Maura recently completed mission training and is headed to Senegal later this year.
When asked what moments stand out most in her mind, Eileen shares the story of a 6-year-old boy, Hernan, who had a cleft lip. “He was brought to the hospital by an elderly man and his wife who had raised him after finding him in a garbage can when he was a baby,” she recalls. “This child was very small for his age, but he had a large personality. It was hard to believe he had been ‘thrown away’ as an infant.”
Eileen says that she feels she has gained more than she has given through her involvement with Operation Smile. “It has been extremely rewarding to be part of a team whose goal is to improve the lives of children around the world,” she says. “Operation Smile truly changes lives, one smile at a time.”
The Legacy Continues
“I have been blessed in life in a lot of ways,” says Les. “It’s good to share and to give back, and it feels good to know you can do some good in the world.”
This father of four is passing to his children the grace and gratitude learned in his lifetime. “I think that’s your job as a parent, to continue to nurture that,” Les says.
At his alma mater, he has served nearly 20 years on the University’s Board of Trustees, including six years as vice chair and two years as chair. In addition to his board service, he has given of his time to the University’s National Alumni Board, Annual Fund and its first capital campaign. He is presently co-chair of the 150th Anniversary Campaign, where some $89 million has been raised toward the $90 million goal. He was an honorary degree recipient in May 2001 and was Alumnus of the Year in 1990.
“The Quick family — and for us at St. Bonaventure, Les and Eileen Quick in particular — provide sterling examples of conscientious stewardship of God’s gifts,” says Sr. Margaret Carney, O.S.F., S.T.D., president of St. Bonaventure.
“By his leadership on our Board, and his availability to a wide variety of our institutional concerns, Les is helping us to forge a path of excellence as we close the 150th Anniversary and commit the University to another century of extraordinary Franciscan education,” Sr. Margaret says.
Perhaps the ultimate testimony to the Quick legacy was delivered by Pope Benedict XVI during his 2008 visit to the U.S. Les’s brother Tom was the first to receive the Eucharist from the pope at the papal Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on April 19 in New York City, and his brother Chris and his wife, Ann, were the last people to bring the gifts to Pope Benedict at the offertory.
“I have always been a believer that the more I give the more that comes back to me,” says Les. “If not for the grace of God, we could be back at square one.”