Vin Cantella's Story
Vincent M. Cantella (1917 - 2006)
Vincent Cantella was born in Boston’s North End in 1917 to Sicilian parents. His father Michele was a co-founder and pasta maker for a small company called Prince Macaroni, which eventually grew into one of the largest pasta manufacturers in the country. Vin graduated from Boston University in 1938 with a degree in Business, and was commissioned a Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corp. after the outbreak of World War II.
He was part of the first officer training program at Quantico, VA and saw action in Bougainville, Saipan, and Guam in the Pacific Theater. He served alongside Donald Regan, the former chairman of Merrill Lynch and Ronald Reagan’s Chief of Staff and Treasury Secretary, and retired as a Major.
For reasons that are still unclear, Vin was bedridden for five years after his return from the war. Though he was told by doctors that he’d never walk again, Vin persevered. After years of struggle, he got back on his feet and jumped at the opportunities he saw in the financial industry, becoming the first representative for the George Putnam Fund. Vin walked door-to-door throughout Boston and up and down countless flights of stairs to attract customers, something that seemed unimaginable just a few years before. Physical fitness remained a priority for the rest of Vin’s life, and he would routinely wake at 4 in the morning to exercise at the Boston Athletic Club or walk to the office from his waterfront condominium on Lewis Wharf.
In 1952, Vin founded Cantella & Co. and obtained a seat on the Boston Stock Exchange. In 1964, Vin was appointed president of the Boston Stock Exchange Clearing Corp., a major milestone in a relationship with the Exchange that lasted over 50 years. Vin would go on to serve on the Exchange’s Board of Directors as a member and, later, as Chairman. Vin was also a member of the Midwest Stock Exchange, the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange, the P.B.W. Stock Exchange, and the American Stock Exchange.
Recognizing early on that international firms would benefit from clearing services in the United States, Vin purchased a seat on the New York Stock Exchange in 1969 and became the primary American clearing firm for major Japanese firms like Nomura, Yamaichi, Nicco, New Japan, and Daiwa Securities.
Despite his success representing institutional businesses, Vin remained a stalwart champion of the “little guy.” Securing fair rates for small investors was one of his passions, and shortly after his appointment as Chairman of the Boston Stock Exchange in 1973 he contacted each member of Congress to champion his cause. He wrote,
"Everything that has been done in the last five years, either from the regulatory point of view or from consideration in Congress, has mitigated against the individual investor and has strongly favored the large institutions and large brokerage firms."
He waged similar battles with the SEC.
As the world became more globalized and international firms began purchasing their own seats on various exchanges, Vin began to turn more attention to those overlooked by the financial industry. Cantella evolved and became a clearing firm for smaller broker/dealers, and Vin’s passion for serving smaller customers never faded.
Many of the offices Vin took on board would have been considered insignificant by his competitors, but he staunchly believed in the service he was providing. When asked why he continued to clear for the owner of a broker/dealer who had lost her husband and who only executed a handful of trades each year, he replied,
"Those trades and the small commissions they generate might not mean much to you or me, but to that lady, they mean a lot. We will clear for her as long as she needs us to."
The financial industry evolved to give rise to the independent franchise model, and Vin saw even more of an opportunity to make an impact for the individual. Over time, he remodeled his firm into the Cantella we know today: An independent platform with a full suite of services and compliance support for advisors nationwide. Our focus on helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses remains just as strong as ever, and Vin’s leadership and inspiration remained an important beacon even as he slowed down in his older years.
Sadly, Vin passed away at the age of 89 on May 4, 2006. In typical Vin fashion, he was still in the office just one week before his death. Always remembered and never forgotten, the Cantella family continues to remain loyal to his principles and to his unwavering spirit.