Special Section

Leaders in Finance

The local finance leaders you need to know in Charm City.
By Special Advertising Section — September 2019

It was 1782, still a year before the Treaty of Paris officially ended the Revolutionary War, but the struggle for independence didn’t deter Baltimore from trying to take a leading role in American banking. Okay, it took 13 years to pull off, but it’s a status we’re still reminded of today by the city’s seafaring heritage and by the history and names of its financial institutions.

That was the year that Maryland State Senator James McHenry introduced a bill “to establish the credit of a bank” in Baltimore. While it passed in his chamber, the proposal died in the House of Delegates. Two years later, though, another attempt was made, this time to establish a “Bank of Maryland.” Such a bank, according to its charter, “increases the medium of trade . . . furnishes a safe deposit for cash, aids the anticipation of funds on paying common interest . . . and promises an advantage to the stockholder,” wrote Alfred Cookman Bryan in his 1899 tome, History of State Banking in Maryland.

This “Bank of Maryland,” which would be started with $300,000 of capital (about $9 million today) in shares of $400 (payable in gold or silver), immediately sold the 150 shares required to form a board of directors.

But then the pushback started: Farmers worried that loans would favor Baltimore merchants and transfer wealth from rural areas. Others were concerned that the bank would only benefit a few (indeed, the 300 shares sold at that point were distributed among only 17 people). When the petition for the bank charter was brought to the State Senate in November 1784, it was tabled and never brought up again.

But the need for modern banking was growing, as was Baltimore: By 1790, with a population of 13,500 souls, the city maintained a busy port and vied for dominance in export shipping—thanks in part to its clipper ships, the fast, two-masted ships also known as Baltimore Flyers.

Finally, on Christmas Eve in 1795, the city got its bank: The Bank of Baltimore—America’s seventh—was chartered with $1.2 million in capital.

And in 1804, Baltimore did achieve a national first, as Farmers’ Bank of Maryland became the first institution in the U.S. to pay interest on deposits, as well as adopting the “peculiar Scotch feature” of cash credit.

Another Charm City first? The founding in 1800 of America’s first investment bank, Alex. Brown & Sons, the brainchild of an Irish-born shipping magnate named Alexander Brown. “He realized there was more money in financing shipping than there was in shipping,” says Greg Conderacci, who in 2000 produced a commemorative book for Alex. Brown’s bicentennial.


Brown wasn’t the first Baltimorean to jump at opportunity. In his book, Baltimore: A Political History, Matthew Crenson points out that, during the Revolutionary War, Baltimore “made a great deal of money” provisioning troops and building ships. In fact, Crenson implies, to these opportunists, the war was more about commerce than the ideals of life, liberty, and all that.

“That’s the blessing and the curse,” says Dr. Lindsay Thompson, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. “Baltimore wasn’t genteel like some of the other Southern towns.”

And another thing set it apart—its premier port. “We have one of the best ports in the world,” Thompson points out. “It’s protected, deep and big, the blessing of nature.” Another geographical feature, she says, is the city’s proximity to the nation’s capital. “Washington, D.C., isn’t a city about commerce. Baltimore has and does things D.C. could never do.”

Later, another factor would prove advantageous for Baltimore, as well as another opportunity for the financial industry: With the arrival of railroads in the early 1800s, the city’s railhead would make it the closest Atlantic port for manufacturers and farmers in the Midwest to import and export.


Alexander Brown and his sons invested widely, financing the B&O Railroad in 1827 and helping to rebuild the south after the Civil War, as well as bankrolling Baltimore’s rise from the ashes after the fire of 1904 (the firm’s then three-year-old brick building survived the flames). And as recently as the 1960s, the firm issued bonds to build the second span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

“Between fires and bridges and railroads, we have an important stake in the city,” says Marcus Aiello, Mid-Atlantic regional executive for Alex. Brown. Yes, even though the firm has changed hands over the years—notably its sale to Banker’s Trust and then to Deutsche Bank in the 1990s—the name has endured. Today, the investment firm is part of Florida-based Raymond James Financial, but Aiello says, “For us, the Alex. Brown name has unique brand equity in Baltimore.”

Indeed, the Brown name has spawned Brown Advisory, which was started within Alex. Brown and later spun out as its own entity. It was headed up for a time by the great-great-great-great grandson of Alexander Brown himself, Benjamin Griswold IV.

“Our ties are all over the place,” says Aiello. “There’s Brown Advisory, Alex Brown Realty—and The Alexander Brown Restaurant is where the original offices were.”


One notable Brown in Baltimore’s financial industry is not related to Alexander: Eddie Brown, who was born in rural Florida during the Jim Crow era, wound up in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he excelled in an integrated school. Thanks to an unnamed benefactor, Brown attended Howard University and received his MBA at Indiana State University.

Known for his ability to pick stocks, Brown—who founded Brown Capital Management in 1983—was a popular panelist on PBS’ Wall $treet Week. And through the Eddie C. and C Sylvia Brown Family Foundation, Brown and his wife, Sylvia, have established themselves as some of the city’s most generous and beloved philanthropists.

Another African-American business legend is Baltimore-born Reginald F. Lewis, the first African-American to create a billion-dollar company in the U.S. His TLC Beatrice Holdings grew from TLC Group LP, a venture capital firm he started in 1983. The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation financed Baltimore’s African-American history museum, named for the businessman and benefactor.


Baltimore has also produced companies such as T. Rowe Price, founded in 1937, and Legg Mason. Both companies can trace their roots to MacKubin, Legg & Co., originally established as George Mackubin & Co. in 1899.

The brokerage firm Mason & Co., founded in Newport News, Virginia, by Raymond A. “Chip” Mason in 1962, was acquired by Legg in 1970. “Our roots are in Baltimore,” says Legg Mason CEO Joe Sullivan. In spite of the city’s current challenges, he says, “it’s a community with a great work ethic and a great work force.”

Legg Mason helped to shift Baltimore’s financial district to the nascent Harbor East neighborhood in 2009 when it put its name across a new building on International Drive, also home to the Four Seasons Hotel. “When we put stakes in the ground, it was an anchor for the neighborhood,” he says. The upscale digs may help show off Baltimore in its best light, thereby helping the company to recruit talent. “Young people see the potential renaissance” in Baltimore, Sullivan says. “Baltimore is an up-and-coming place, and they see it as affordable and hip.”


In its early days, Baltimore’s financial industry was strategically positioned at the center of shipping and rail. In 1785, there were 13 different state roads, totaling 504 miles, proposed to the State Assembly. Today, while travel may be easier, technology has deemed location all but irrelevant. Even so, Baltimore persists as a center of finance.

“The bulk of the U.S. economy is in the crescent from Boston to Washington, D.C.,” says the Carey School’s Thompson. In the Baltimore region, much of today’s business revolves around tech, cyber security, and other emerging industries. “But in order to make any business work, you need finance,” she points out. “Unless you can finance the ideas, they’re just ideas.”

Thompson’s doctorate is in the classics, which she describes as “the original multi-disciplinary discipline.” She notes, “you can’t look at the economy as separate from people.” In spite of the city’s challenges, Baltimore has “tremendous economic resilience,” Thompson says. “We seem to always come back—we’ve been doing it for 300 years.”

Marcus Aiello

Mid Atlantic Regional Executive
Alex. Brown, a Division of Raymond James
100 International Drive | 22nd Floor | Baltimore, MD 21202 | 410.525.6200

When it comes to the growth, management, and maintenance of exceptional wealth, the only thing better than having the support of a powerful firm is having that support delivered with local finesse. You can expect both at the Baltimore office of Alex. Brown.

Regional Executive Marcus Aiello and his Baltimore team offer quality wealth management paired with the boutique-style service of a hometown office and the powerful resources of a renowned financial firm. They know their success depends on that of their advisors and are committed to providing the tools you need to devise sophisticated investment strategies rooted in your clients’ best interests.

“Several of my colleagues have spent their entire careers with Alex. Brown, which speaks volumes to our boutique culture and dedication to enhancing both the client and advisor experience,” says Aiello.

Alex. Brown, which was founded in 1800 in Baltimore and went on to become the nation’s first investment bank, helped to finance the B&O Railroad and invested in rebuilding the South after the Civil War. In 2016, the Alex. Brown brand experienced a revival when it joined forces with Raymond James, one of the largest independent financial planning and wealth management firms in the U.S. Alex. Brown’s resurgence has meant a strengthened commitment to delivering its signature approach – leveraging experience and expertise to provide uniquely successful clients with uncommonly sophisticated investment strategies.

“Alex. Brown is a storied name, and Baltimore has been part of its footprint from the beginning,” says Aiello. “It’s been very exciting to be part of this renaissance and to find that there’s still so much opportunity locally to serve clients and grow our presence.”

© 2019 Raymond James & Associates, Inc., member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC.

Scott M. Levin

Alex. Brown, a Division of Raymond James
100 International Drive | 22nd Floor | Baltimore, MD 21202 | 410.525.6200

Worthington Financial Partners, along with National Life Group, is a mission-driven business with the goal of doing well for the individual families it serves while doing good in the community.

Scott Levin has been part of the company since 1994. He is the creator of The WealthFactor Advantage, a system that helps individuals and small-business owners by designing customized and financially innovative strategies to achieve their goals.

Levin’s relationships with a network of professional advisors, CPAs, and attorneys means he can help his clients access the support they need to grow and protect their assets.

Levin, who received a degree in finance from the University of Maryland, lives in Reisterstown with his wife and two children.

Andrew J. Paladino

Paladino Financial Group
1954 Greenspring Drive | Suite 500 | Timonium, MD 21093 | 410.252.7630

When it comes to building wealth, Andy Paladino likes to help people discover their underlying ‘why?’ He asks his clients, “What would you be doing if money was not an issue?”

He then helps them to achieve their goals, likening his job to a coach who helps clients gain confidence as they make decisions about their financial game plan. Paladino helps them look at the entire field and figure out the best strategies to reach their goals.

Paladino and his clients explore approaches that include wealth accumulation, distribution, and legacy planning. He formed the Paladino Financial Group in 2004 after he had worked for a large Baltimore CPA firm.

He has been recognized as a Baltimore magazine five-star wealth manager. A high school athlete—and valedictorian—he now coaches baseball at the Park School and is commissioner of Reisterstown Baseball.

Andrew J. Paladino is an investment adviser representative of, and securities and advisory services are offered through, USA Financial Securities Corp. (Member FINRA/SIPC). USA Financial Securities is a registered investment adviser located at 6020 E Fulton St., Ada, MI 49301. Paladino Financial Group is not affiliated with USA Financial Securities.

Kara Dipietro

Kara A. DiPietro

Kinetic Capital
1641 Thames Street | Baltimore, MD 21231 | 410.800.4849

A private financing firm grounded in the principles of traditional and behavioral economics, Kinetic Capital offers a creative, collaborative approach to designing custom financial plans for small businesses. Using elements from standard finance products, the company helps to create individualized hybrid finance plans by way of strategic cashflow management.

Kara DiPietro founded Kinetic Capital after purchasing HMC Inc., a national custom architectural millwork design-build firm founded by her father in 1989. Under DiPietro’s leadership, the company experienced 23 percent year-over-year growth, doubling in size by 2017. As a result, DiPietro was named small-business person of the year by the United States Small Business Administration. Her experience facing small-business challenges helps her to offer professional capital-management services that stand out from the rest. Kinetic Capital can honestly say, “We have walked in your shoes.” DiPietro named her firm after recognizing that capital and business creates momentum just as kinetic energy and potential energy do for the universe. Kinetic’s approach provides business leaders with unique insights that drive growth and profitability. Since 2017, DiPietro has successfully managed more than $26 million for small businesses.

DiPietro’s firms have been recognized in Inc’s. “5000 List” as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America, an honor it shares with such companies as Under Armour, GrubHub, and Patagonia. The Greater Baltimore Committee recognized DiPietro with the Bridging the Gap President’s Award after her firm awarded $11-million-worth of contracts to small and minority-owned businesses. SmartCEO inducted DiPietro into the CEO Circle of Excellence, and she was named women’s business enterprise of the year by the Maryland Washington Minority Companies Association. The newest addition to her portfolio is the Kinetic Capital Community Foundation, which is focused on income equalization. Instead of providing funding that is consumed as a result of community outreach, the foundation strategically invests in products that deliver a two-fold return. DiPietro believes that a more balanced distribution of wealth will greatly benefit Baltimore City’s small-business community.

Phillip Snyder

Philip Snyder

Snyder Asset Management
1300 York Road | Suite 110 | Lutherville, MD 21093 | 410.216.1249

Philip Snyder, CFA is the founder of Snyder Asset Management, LLC. The firm is a fee only Registered Investment Advisor. Philip has 15 years of industry experience and established Snyder Asset Management in 2016.

Many clients view Snyder Asset Management as their chief financial officer. Clients can tap into the firm’s expertise with the intention of achieving their goals when it comes to financial planning and security in retirement. Philip has established strong trust and a solid rapport with clients thanks to his commitment to do everything in their best interests and his track record of delivering solid results.

The firm offers wealth-management solutions that include investments outside of the traditional stock and bond universe and leverage technology to deep-dive into portfolio metrics to help clients make savvy choices in their financial planning.

Philip has been quoted in the Baltimore Sun, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, and the Wall Street Journal.

Scott Levin

Scott Taylor

Financial Advisor
Scott B. Taylor
11350 McCormick Road, Executive Plaza IV |Suite 200 | Hunt Valley, MD 21031 |410.773.8332

To Scott B. Taylor, who founded his practice in 2000, relationships matter. Specializing in retirement income, life insurance, and financial-planning advice, Taylor, a Baltimore native, believes in making the process simple and transparent so clients can make informed decisions about their investments, whether they’re preparing for events like retirement or college, or simply looking for life, disability income, or long-term care insurance protection.

Scott Taylor is a registered representative of and offers securities and investment advisory services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. Office of supervisory jurisdiction: 11350 McCormick Road, Executive Plaza IV, Suite 210, Hunt Valley MD 21031 (410) 785-7654. CRN202108- 251731.

Scott Levin

Alvin Katz & Mark Cissell

Co-Founder & CEO
Bel Air | Columbia | Timonium | 410.828.CPAS (2727)

Founded in 1969, KatzAbosch is one of Maryland’s largest certified public-accounting and business-consulting firms. Named for its co-founders, Alvin Katz and John Abosch, the firm, now managed by CEO and president, Mark Cissell, continues to provide the highest quality accounting, tax, financial ,and management-consulting services to its clients. The firm works with middle-market businesses and high-net worth clients to establish a create-grow-protect mindset, an approach that sets it apart from the competition.

Kent Pearce

Kent Pearce

Senior Financial Advisor Managing Director
Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, The Pearce Group
901 Dulaney Valley Road, Dulaney Center #2 | Suite 516 | Towson, MD 21204 | 410.321.4340

Beginning as a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch 25 years ago, Kent Pearce has methodically built up an extraordinary team of talented professionals. The 15-member team, with close to 250 years of combined experience, has been ranked among the top wealth-management groups in the U.S. by Forbes/Shook Research, Barron’s and the Financial Times.

The Pearce Group offers a range of services, including wealth management, financial planning, and customized portfolio management, as well as private banking, lending solutions, and planning for generational wealth transfer. Representing one of the industry’s largest global financial platforms through Merrill Lynch, the Pearce Group has access to unparalleled financial resources, industry-leading research, and cutting-edge technology. But as a methodically built winning team over the years, the team is truly able to deliver services with a personalized, boutique-style approach, ensuring that each client receives unique attention.

This Wealth Management team truly believes that clients do business with those they like and trust, so it does its best to deserve and maintain that trust, measuring its own success by that of its clients’ success.

Kent Pearce, who has been consistently ranked as one of Merrill Lynch’s top advisors, serves on and was an inaugural member of the company’s Advisor Growth Network Board. In 2018, he received the national prestigious David Brady Award, which recognizes character and integrity in his commitment to clients, colleagues, and community.

Pearce and his team members are also extremely active in the community and give back, participating and holding board positions in such causes as the American Heart Association, the Baltimore Community Fund, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Living Classrooms Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, the March of Dimes, the Maryland Food Bank, and many others.

Kent Pearce is employed by broker-dealer Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith.


Charles W. Sawyer Jr., Jane Sawyer, Brian Pacen, Jeanette Ratner, Leah Gray, Seth Bergen, Lisa Callender, Shawnna Weiss, Michael Hendrick, Marie Murphy, Terri Szekely-Berry, Thomas Sawyer, Jordan Murphy

Sawyer Wealth Management

100 Painters Mill Road | Suite 420 | Owings Mills, MD 21117 | 410.356.0329

Sawyer Wealth Management is a family of wealth-management professionals dedicated to helping its clients achieve financial security and plan for their legacies.

“Our job is to go above and beyond to assist clients with every aspect of financial planning,” says founder and president Charles Sawyer Jr. “When doing something as important as preparing for the future, you shouldn’t have to go it alone.”

Sawyer founded the company in 2001 after decades of working for large financial-services firms. He recognized the unique contribution his own company could provide, a company that reflected his deeply held respect for others, along with his unwavering commitment to service. His primary focus is working in the areas of financial planning and estate planning with pre-retirees, retirees, and their families. The firm also focuses on the complex needs of small-business owners, corporate executives, and employer-sponsored retirement plans.

At the time he founded the firm, Sawyer was helping his ailing father navigate the Veteran’s Administration. As a result of this experience, he has become an advocate for veterans and their families. Sawyer offers assistance with identifying and filling out paperwork to access underutilized veterans benefits.

Along with its support for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and organizations that support education for the children of fallen heroes, the firm contributes to such organizations as the American Diabetes Association, the Alzheimer’s Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Mt. Washington Children’s Hospital, The Jimmy V Foundation, and Toys For Tots.

Over time, Sawyer Wealth Management’s dedication to the well-being of its clients has been proven by the many referrals it receives from those it works with. Sawyer Wealth Management continues to grow and evolve as it continues to put its clients first.

Says Sawyer, “We’re dedicated to providing security, protecting your legacy, and promoting your financial well-being.”

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