Charles Reiling III serves as President and CEO of CoastalOne and The Coastal Companies, including Coastal Equities, Inc., a FINRA registered broker-dealer, and Coastal Investment Advisors, Inc., an SEC registered investment adviser. Charles also serves as the Operating Principal for Coastal Equities. Prior to his role as CEO, Charles served as Coastal’s CLO and CFO.
Charles’s past professional experience includes his role as a partner of Skinner & Reiling, PC, a New Jersey law firm with a concentration in securities law, focused on representation of securities firms, investment advisory firms, and financial professionals including broker-dealer representatives, investment advisors, and financial planners. While there, Charles was also a Managing Director of BD/IA Compliance Solutions, LLC (“BDIA”), a financial services regulatory compliance consulting firm, partially owned by Skinner & Reiling, PC at the time. Charles also spent fifteen years intermittently in the private practice of law prior to the formation of Skinner & Reiling, PC. An entrepreneur at heart, Charles formed, acquired, and sold several companies in the financial and food industries after previously serving as President and CEO of a Delaware trust company. He began his financial services career with Merrill Lynch in 1996.
Charles holds FINRA Series SIE, 4, 7, 24, 27, 63, 65, 66, and 79 licenses. In 1991, Mr. Reiling earned his BA in Political Science from LaSalle University in Philadelphia, PA. He earned his JD from Widener University School of Law in 1997. He is admitted to the bar in Maryland.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Charles Reiling: I’m Charles Reiling – my friends call me Chaz – and I’m President and CEO of CoastalOne and The Coastal Companies, which includes Coastal Equities, Inc. and Coastal Investment Advisors, Inc.
Before joining Coastal, I was a co-founder and partner with Skinner & Reiling, PC, a New Jersey headquartered law firm that concentrated in securities law with a focus on the representation of securities firms, investment advisory firms, and financial professionals. While there, I was also a Managing Director of BD/IA Compliance Solutions, LLC, a financial services regulatory compliance consulting firm, at the time partially owned by Skinner & Reiling, PC. I also spent fifteen years intermittently in the private practice of law prior to the formation of Skinner & Reiling, PC. Before that, I formed, acquired, and sold several companies in the financial and food industries after previously serving as President and CEO of a Delaware trust company.
In 1991, I earned a BA in Political Science from LaSalle University in Philadelphia, and in 1997, earned a JD from Widener University School of Law. I’m admitted to the bar in Maryland and hold FINRA Series SIE, 4, 7, 24, 27, 63, 65, 66, and 79 licenses.
I currently live in Mullica Hill, NJ, just outside of Philadelphia, with my wife, Julie, and our three kids.
I spend a lot of time with my family. I am fortunate enough to have coached all three of my children in athletics – two are now off in college, one close to that stage. My wife and I are looking forward to the next phase of our lives – we enjoy traveling, dining, and spending time with close family and friends.
As for my company, there are two branches of CoastalOne – Coastal Equities, Inc., a FINRA registered broker-dealer, and Coastal Investment Advisors, Inc., an SEC registered investment adviser.
CoastalOne is our RIA/BD platform focused on serving the unique needs of financial professionals who are searching for concierge-level services to help grow their practice. For over 30 years, CoastalOne has created a collaborative culture, specializing in providing our financial professionals with dedicated support, integrated technology, and a deep understanding of the complex regulatory framework. We provide them with these assets so the RIA can offer premium service and personalized financial guidance to their clients.
At CoastalOne, the management team and I are fully committed to the people we serve. My colleagues know they can (and often do) call me in the evenings and on the weekends to talk through issues they may be facing. In my spare time, I like to play chess and I enjoy puzzles, which ties into my enjoyment of helping others solve problems – particularly complex ones.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Charles Reiling: I think a major lesson I’ve learned during the pandemic is to always roll with the punches. Perseverance begets success – so always stick with it. Some of the best career advice I ever received was from Rocky Balboa: “It ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.” I’ve endured my fair share of “hits” in my career. Early in my career, I took them hard – up all night working and worrying. Ignoring my family. Stressed to the max. And then something remarkable happened – I got through it, again and again, and learned to take the hits with less emotion and more objectivity. I’ve learned to take the punch, shake it off, move forward, and not let it consume me. The same could be said of the major “hit” we all took during the pandemic.
Closing the office was very difficult because we’ve spent so much time building a team that functions and works well together, while also having fun. I was worried about losing the camaraderie our team had nurtured over the years when we became isolated in our homes. Luckily for us, our tech team did an outstanding job of outfitting everyone to work from home, and Microsoft Teams became our new way to stay in touch. We continue to do an “all hands” meeting every Friday, where we introduce new staff, talk about important issues facing our team, and joke about whose sports team is falling behind.
In addition, one of the major lessons I’ve learned is the importance of being flexible. Does any CEO want to shutter their offices for an indeterminate amount of time? No. But those companies that were flexible are the ones with low staff turnover, and they are positioned to come out of the pandemic in a better place.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Charles Reiling: I think it’s important for businesses to focus on their culture. I pride myself on the cohesiveness and camaraderie of our team. I believe leaders of a company should be approachable, available personally, and supportive of their team’s efforts. When a team works together, they can adapt to fluctuations in the economy and business structures – they learn to pivot quickly by working as one for the greater good. Our team has such passion for our business, they commit to finding solutions – that’s pretty remarkable to observe as a leader.
As a CEO, this means surrounding yourself with the right people, and delegating tasks so that your time is freed up to concentrate on the most important aspects of your business. It’s the old phrase, ‘Work on your business, not in your business.’ I think for a smaller organization with fewer employees, one of the biggest challenges is where to spend your time and your efforts, and focusing on the factors that will have the biggest impact.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Charles Reiling: One of the biggest changes to the financial services industry has been the shift to remote work, and the most difficult decision I’ve had to make during the pandemic was for CoastalOne to completely, or near completely, go permanently remote. We concluded we are never going back to shared office space for our entire company. No matter what happens, we are remote, except for a select few staff that need to be present for certain reasons. If tasks and jobs can be done remotely, we are permitting it.
It has changed the environment, however, we have really pivoted and done the best we can to replicate that with our weekly virtual “water cooler” meetings, relying heavily on Teams – our version of Zoom – for face-to-face interaction and continue with company events. What you gain and what our team gains far outweighs what was lost. People like working from home – they are more efficient. In fact, they tend to get a lot more done, and it eliminates time-consuming and sometimes stressful commuting. It makes for healthier, happier employees. The bonus is that our representative and their clients have reported zero impact to them – they don’t see a difference
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Charles Reiling: I think it’s important to realize that even though you may not be able to control the outcome of every situation, you can control your response and make the best of the scenario. We’ve had some very difficult times along the way. What you can control – maybe the only thing – is your reaction.
Once I understood I was not in control of partners, clients, or situations – and that I could only control my actions and my reactions – it was like a weight had been lifted. It was one less big thing I didn’t need to worry about, and it allows me to focus on my actions. I continuously evaluate how to improve situations – especially ones I did not create. This will happen countless times in your life, and I expect throughout 2022. I know that if I learn to divert the focus from others’ actions to my own efforts in order to resolve the issue, I will find solutions – and I intend to continue to improve on that methodology.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Charles Reiling: I think from this perspective, it was a blessing in disguise. We have learned to be more efficient, we have reduced waiting times, we have improved the consumer economy, we have learned a better work-life balance, and it allowed businesses that may not have normally been able to, to excel and surge due to higher demand. It also created opportunities for many industries to learn new ways to conduct business. I think this is the way of the future and it’s not going away anytime soon.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Charles Reiling: Am I allowed to say too many? I start my day early, especially considering we have staff on both coasts, so I typically address East Coast issues first thing. I may need to interact with the West Coast after “business hours”, so the time difference is a factor. Limiting screen time is nearly impossible, as everything we do now is digital. What I do try to ensure is that I get up and move and take breaks from the screens. I have also started traveling significantly again – so that helps alleviate sitting at my desk for hours on end staring at a glowing device. In the evenings, I work to limit my screen time by reading, spending time with my family, and enjoying some programming.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Charles Reiling: Funny – this is a daily activity at Coastal. I think we all use stories, especially because many of us have a long history together. It’s one of the many things that bond us as a team. I often tell the story of early in my career when industry lingo really threw me off. I’d hear terms that I thought I was supposed to understand, and I’d sit through conversations and leave having no idea what everyone was talking about.
Of course, this goes back to my early days when my confidence was low. I ask a ton of questions now and I think that is a key defining factor of being successful and confident in your decisions. You do not have to have all the answers – asking questions makes you more approachable and generates engagement and learning. You should never be afraid to ask for help! Ask your peers, ask your industry partners – ask your spouse. You’ll find that most people really like to help. This is one just one example of how I use past experiences to relate to our team.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Charles Reiling: Obstacles are the nature of our business, which I have learned time and time again are really lessons in disguise – it always brings you to another path that is often a much better solution and ultimately, does lead to more growth.
We are living in a very challenging time – there is a lot of division, insecurity, and uncertainty, and everyone wants instant gratification. The real challenge is getting back to our roots – building relationships, lessening stringent demands and policies, allowing people to express themselves openly. Treating people like equals and building a strong rapport. I think keeping a healthy work environment will help balance out the rest of the chaos.
The speed of technology is another challenge for us and something we need to stay on top of, as we navigate the many options available to help guide our business. We are well-positioned because we’ve always kept tech at the forefront of our process and continually evaluate what offerings we can provide to our financial professionals and clients. Our most pressing challenge is, in a super-fast-paced fintech environment, how to constantly stay cutting edge in our offerings while vetting out a core system that supports our advisors in serving their clients in an efficient and effective way. Part of this equation is making the right choices, without being swayed by fancy new tech that over-promises, while building on our systems without starting over.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Charles Reiling: Without a doubt, Crypto. Functioning in a highly regulated business, it’s a hot topic in our industry. Our reps are continually asking about it and it’s challenging not to be able to deliver it. Crypto is in the early stages – there is still a lot we do not know. Regulators are evaluating its security and we need more definition behind it. I will feel more confident when we have precedent and track records. Right now, it’s still too new to make appropriate recommendations due to the unknown risk. In saying that, our reps and their clients are constantly asking, and we are keeping that in consideration.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Charles Reiling: Of course, I think everyone that reads that data thinks that’s not them! That said, I hope it’s not me…
I genuinely feel we have built a strong culture of respect and honesty. A team should be confident they can depend on you, even with their personal lives and struggles, to be compassionate and interested in what they have to say. I think that it’s critical to find time to reach out and catch up and encourage camaraderie amongst your team members. This goes a long way towards building trust and kindness in your workplace, while also creating happy employees. You will be seen as a more effective leader and your company will thrive because of it.
People with integrity are the backbones of any thriving business. I am so proud of what our team has accomplished during these unpredictable times. We have brought on new technology, new partners, new executives, and home office staff to help lead us into the next chapter, I think leaders need to recognize the accomplishments of their employees and call them out publicly for a job well done. I tend to make every effort to do that. In my opinion – the future is looking bright.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Charles Reiling: The business superpower I would want is knowing ahead of time that I am making the right decision. “Analysis paralysis” is a real thing when you are unable to make a decision due to over-thinking a problem with too much data to consider. In our business, you need to make decisions in a timely way, the best you can, with the information in front of you at the time. I just wish I had all the information readily digested so I knew I was always making the right decision for the long haul. As confident as you can be in your choices, there are times when you make the wrong one. How great would it be to know that beforehand?
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Charles Reiling: Success is continuing to have a profitable business that my employees are proud to be a part of, that reps are happy to be associated with, and where there’s a positive work environment that is well regarded. And above all, a happy wife and children!
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Charles Reiling for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Charles Reiling or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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