Getting to Know You: Richard Wesselt, Founder of Wesselt Capital Group and the Wesselt Initiative

Richard Wesselt was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania to a dedicated and loving mother and a disciplined father who served with distinction in the United States Marine Corps.

As such, he was raised with an emphasis on hard work, service, and integrity. Throughout his early education, Richard consistently achieved excellent marks, ranking first in his class from 5th through 12th grade. Also an accomplished athlete, by his senior year in high school, he had become the quarterback for the varsity football team. As his time in high school came to a close, Richard found that he had the grades to attend any post-secondary institution that he wished. After careful thought, he chose the University of Pennsylvania, eventually graduating from its Wharton School of Business in 1989.

Upon entering the professional world, Richard Wesselt obtained his first position with Provident Mutual, where his efforts earned the insurance company’s award for ‘Rookie of the Year.’ A few years later, he was offered a role with another insurance company, Phoenix Home Life, where he led the firm in the number of policies written. This experience inspired him to found his own insurance and fiscal management company.

Wesselt Capital Group was founded in 1997. Over the quarter century since its inception, the company has assisted more than 34,000 people with their insurance needs. Richard cites helping so many people protect their futures, improve their finances, and plan for the unexpected as the most rewarding aspects of his distinguished career. Outside of running his firm, Richard Wesselt has also served on various boards of governors. Throughout his life, Bishop Kenrick High School, Kennedy Kenrick High School, and Pope John Paul High School have been important to him, and he has worked very hard to ensure that their best interests are served. Since 1992, he has raised funds and provided scholarships for these institutions, as well as mentored students.

Inspired by his mentorship experiences, Richard Wesselt is currently moving into a new phase of his career. He is in the process of founding the Wesselt Initiative, a philanthropic and community service-based organization dedicated to creating connections for students and businesses to grow and learn from one another.

When he is not hard at work overseeing Wesselt Capital Group or his nonprofit organization, Richard enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife Amy, and his two sons, Logan and Carson.

What do you currently do at the Wesselt Initiative?

My role will be assisting, guiding, and mentoring students between the ages of 15 and 25, and perhaps some that are younger. The goal is to help develop positive traits that stick with them for the rest of their lives, helping them to become good citizens first, but also successful in their professional endeavors.

What was the inspiration behind the Wesselt Initiative?

My mother spent a great deal of time cultivating an incredible work ethic in our family. She dedicated herself to helping me accomplish my goals, and now I want to do the same on a larger scale.

What keys to being productive can you share?

Integrity, effective work habits, and a genuine care for the welfare of others are the keys to being productive. To this end, at the Wesselt Initiative, we start our work week on Thursday at 4 pm instead of Monday morning. The main reason we start on Thursdays stems from a habit that I developed while I ran my financial company. During the mid-1990s, I started working on Saturdays, and later after mass on Sundays. I realized those two days were great days for seeing clients, as well as ideal for clarity of thought. It’s amazing what can be accomplished without the phone ringing or the need to react to typical issues that tend to arise on weekdays. For many companies, Friday afternoon is a generally unproductive time. Starting at 4 pm on Thursday tilted the work week for us to have more productive outcomes.

How do you measure success?

For me, that’s an easy thing to measure. Success means having people you want to care about also care about you. It’s building the relationships that matter and creating foundations for them to last a lifetime. This applies both to business and personal life alike.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned in my career is that there are no shortcuts. There is absolutely no substitute for hard work. The results always pay off when you dig in and do the work.

What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in the same field?

I would recommend anyone considering a career in either the insurance and annuities industry or the nonprofit sector have the empathy to walk extensively in somebody else’s shoes before casting judgment. It’s also important to define success as lending a helping hand in any way possible.

How would your colleagues describe you?

I believe they would describe me as a classic overachiever who outworked the financial services industry. I know I’ll be bringing the same dedication to the Wesselt Initiative, as well.

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

Maintaining a solid work life balance is always a challenge, however the right advice can go a long way. I once heard the mantra of Vince Lombardi, who was a legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers. He said, “First is God. Second is family. Third is work. Fourth is friendships.” I think that observing those priorities in that order has helped to guide me in my effort to achieve work life balance. I will also say that part of maintaining balance is having the ability to say “no” to distractions.

What is one piece of technology that helps you the most in your daily routine?

My iPhone keeps me on track and connected to my new team as we build the framework for our initiative.

Who has been a role model to you and why?

My father taught me self-discipline and my mother instilled me with an intense work ethic. Beyond them, Dan Smith, my high school football coach, taught me more about caring for people and family than almost anybody else. He really took on the role of a father figure for me during our time together. His insights still stick with me today.

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

My mother always taught me to have a strong moral conviction, regardless of the opinions of others. They have no sway on how I conduct myself. My decisions and convictions are my own.