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Lessons Learned from a Father and Grandfather

Launching an accounting firm in the early 1970s was not easy for young CPAs like Greg Miller. CPAs were actually prohibited from advertising or marketing back then. Struggling to grow his fledgling practice, Greg took on almost any client who called, and was very open to business opportunities.

It was one of those clients – a male nurse – who told Greg about a new type of medical diagnostic equipment: ultrasound. The unlikely pair figured if they could buy an ultrasound machine and provide these services to hospitals, maybe they could make a good living.  

Long story short: they did much better than that. Greg Miller and his partners borrowed from their families and ran up their credit cards. They bought the equipment, and became one of the first providers of ultrasound in New England and New York City. Their medical business continued to grow and expand. In 1986, they sold it to a publicly traded corporation, for a price in the millions. Greg was just 37 years old and had just accomplished something others only dream about.

The question was: what to do next?

Greg reflected on some family history. Greg’s grandfather had owned a chain of drugstores in the 1920s, and had sold it for a substantial sum. Greg’s grandfather did what most investors did back then: buy stocks. Unfortunately, the stock market crash of 1929 hit hard, and by 1932, he was completely wiped out.

Then there was the story of his late father, Ed Miller. Another entrepreneur, Ed built a very successful industrial cleaning supply company, selling it for around $1 million. Ed was cautious, and decided to invest in mutual funds, a new investment idea in the early ‘70s. Unfortunately, he also had poor timing and the 1973–1974 severe bear market destroyed his portfolio.

Greg Miller had some choices to make. One thing was certain: he didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He began studying everything he could about investing, considering many strategies and products. He fell in love with one unique investment: convertible bonds.

Around since the mid-1800s, convertibles seemed to be the solution Greg was looking for to help safely grow and protect his portfolio. Convertibles offered the principal protection and the interest and/or yield of bonds during bear markets, but also much of the upside potential of stocks during bull stock markets.

In 1991, Greg’s partner in the CPA firm, Darlene Murphy, convinced him this was something that could be offered to clients. Together, they formed Wellesley Investment Advisors, Inc. The rest, as they say – is history.

We like to think that if Greg’s father and grandfather were around today, they’d be very pleased indeed.