Howard County Financial Advisors | Williams Asset Management

About Us | Our Team

Board Room - Our Team

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A truly collaborative team of financial advisors, financial planners, and investment experts, we’re adept in helping you tackle a broad range of needs — from retirement income, education, estate, tax and insurance planning to the efficient management of tax-smart investment portfolios. Additionally, the Commonwealth team consists of more than 45 professionals with the CFA®, CFP®, ChFC®, or JD certification/designation. These experts act as an extension of our own team; supporting us in delivering tailored guidance. Working together collectively, we’ll help ensure that even the smallest details of your financial life are properly addressed.




Gary Williams, CFP®, CRPC®, AIF®


Growing up as the son of a Baltimore County bricklayer, Gary learned lifelong lessons about money at an early age. His family’s frequent financial struggles (deepening with the death of Gary’s mother when he was just eight years old) forced them to periodically rely on welfare, with little or no extra cash for emergencies. It was an experience that instilled a profound belief in the values of hard work, putting family first, and saving and investing for a more secure future—values that ultimately shaped his career.

Gary attended Towson University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a concentration in finance. He quickly realized that, as a financial advisor, he could help others avoid mistakes and achieve financial security; it's something he feels strongly about. And for the past twenty-four years, Gary has done just that, specializing in working with pre- and post-retirees to help them maintain an enjoyable lifestyle during their retirement years.

A lifelong learner, he has continued to hone his expertise over the years, obtaining several specialized designations including CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional, Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM, and Accredited Investment Fiduciary®. His extensive experience has made him a highly sought-after investment commentator for news outlets such as Money Magazine,, Yahoo Finance, Maryland Public Television’s Business Connection, The Business Monthly, and others as well as a regular columnist for the Baltimore Business Journal. Gary has been honored with numerous awards and accolades, including the Forbes’ 2019 and 2020 Best-In-State Wealth Advisor award.1 

To help raise money for charities dear to his heart, Gary wrote the acclaimed Amazon best seller* The Art of Retirement (with foreword by NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott). The book uses the story of Michelangelo’s incredibly long (and challenging) life and famed art as a metaphor to compare the reader’s life to a masterpiece while emphasizing the importance of creating a resilient, well-crafted portfolio. All profits from The Art of Retirement are donated to the Y in Central Maryland, Augie’s Quest, the Maryland SPCA, and the Brigance Brigade Foundation.

Gary is exceedingly active in the community and serves on numerous nonprofit boards including the Association Board of Directors of the Y in Central Maryland, the Investment Committee for Mount Saint Joseph High School Endowment, and the Brigance Brigade Foundation Board of Directors.

Gary, his wife, Lee, and their three children—Abigail, Nicholas, and Emerson—live in Howard County, Maryland, along with their goldendoodle, Cali. In his spare time, Gary enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, and surfing.

*Ranked #62 in Retirement Planning books for 2013

*The 2019 and 2020 ranking of the Forbes’ Best-in-State Wealth Advisors1 list was developed by SHOOK Research and is based on in-person and telephone due-diligence meetings to evaluate each advisor qualitatively and on a ranking algorithm that includes client retention, industry experience, review of compliance records, firm nominations, and quantitative criteria (including assets under management and revenue generated for their firms). Overall, 32,000 advisors were considered, and 4,000 (12.5 percent of candidates) were recognized for the 2020 ranking of the Forbes’ Best-in-State Wealth Advisors list. The full methodology2 that Forbes developed in partnership with SHOOK Research is available here.

1This recognition and the due-diligence process conducted are not indicative of the advisor’s future performance. Your experience may vary. Winners are organized and ranked by state. Some states may have more advisors than others. You are encouraged to conduct your own research to determine if the advisor is right for you.

2Portfolio performance is not a criterion due to varying client objectives and lack of audited data. SHOOK does not receive a fee in exchange for rankings.

Leaders seal

Gary is proud to have been recognized as a Leaders Level advisor for 2019—a distinction based on annual production attained by just 7 percent of advisors affiliated with Commonwealth Financial Network.

Each year, Commonwealth, the Registered Investment Adviser–broker/dealer that helps us process investment transactions on your behalf, recognizes Leaders Level advisors by inviting them to an exclusive gathering of their peers, leading industry experts, and Commonwealth home office staff. Leaders Level advisors benefit from an intensive learning and networking experience designed to help them hone their expertise, share best practices, and provide ever-higher levels of service, education, and leadership to their clients.

CFP Certificate_Gary Williams

Nicholas A. Ibello, CFP®, AIF®

Vice President – Wealth Management

Born and raised in Baltimore, Nick’s attraction to the financial services industry started with a high school finance class stock market game where students created investment accounts, researched stocks and then invested with play money. Despite loving the game, he was prompted by his low ranking to ask the student who won the challenge how he did it. “My dad is a financial advisor” was the reply.

It lit a spark that drove Nick to learn as much about the industry as he could. He graduated cum laude with a bachelor of arts in economics with a concentration in finance from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. After cutting his teeth at T. Rowe Price, Nick began looking for a firm that more closely matched his philosophy, investment process, and passion for helping people reach their financial goals—joining Williams Asset Management as a full-time financial planner. Nick has earned prestigious designations, including the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification and Accredited Investment Fiduciary designation.

Nick has always placed an emphasis on giving back to the community, and after witnessing the polarizing income levels and economic conditions in the city firsthand, Nick decided to volunteer through the CASH Campaign of Maryland’s Pro Bono Financial Planning Program. This program has been specifically designed to provide free access to quality financial planning guidance and coaching for low-to-moderate-income individuals and families in Baltimore and across Maryland.

He is also President of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter for The Society for Financial Awareness, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to providing educational pro bono financial workshops to communities and organizations in an effort to increase financial literacy and empower families to take control of their finances.

Outside of work, Nick maintains his energy and focus by staying healthy and fit: playing racquetball, cross-training, and golfing. Growing up in a tight-knit Italian family, he’s come to understand the value of always having someone there to look after your best interests. It’s a lesson he’s carried over into his professional relationships, for which his clients are incredibly appreciative.

As fiduciaries, we’re uncompromising when it comes to the integrity, accountability and mutual respect of our team. We demand much from ourselves to ensure that we always earn your trust. Our core group of dedicated professionals shares one common purpose: to provide you with the expertise, sound judgment and white-glove service that will allow you to confidently pursue your financial goals.


Nicholas Ibello is proud to have been recognized as a Business Experience advisor for 2019—a distinction based on annual production that places him among the top 47 percent of advisors affiliated with Commonwealth Financial Network.

Each year, Commonwealth, the Registered Investment Adviser–broker/dealer that helps us process investment transactions on your behalf, recognizes Business Experience advisors by inviting them to an exclusive gathering of their peers, leading industry experts, and Commonwealth home office staff. Business Experience advisors benefit from an intensive learning and networking experience designed to help them hone their expertise, share best practices, and provide ever-higher levels of service, education, and leadership to their clients.

CFP Nicholas Ibello



Brian McKinney, CFP®

Financial Advisor

Brian was born and raised in Baltimore County. At nine years old, his life changed dramatically when his mother suddenly suffered a stroke. Going from a dual to a single income household was challenging, but it equipped Brian with an insight into how life and financial situations can suddenly change. Learning independence (e.g., cooking meals, cleaning/ironing clothes, and budgeting money) at a young age led him in search of a career where he could help others.

He saw how hard his father worked to provide for his family and learned what it took to achieve success. Therefore, he decided to embark on a career where he can challenge himself by helping others achieve financial success. Therefore, after working at T. Rowe Price for about 2 years, Brian chose to join Williams Asset Management as an associate financial planner in 2016 and has since transitioned into a lead financial advisor.

Brian is dedicated to helping his clients identify their unique retirement goals and educates them on how to get there through comprehensive financial planning. He earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from The Joseph A. Sellinger, S.J. School of Business and Management at the Loyola University of Maryland. He also earned his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (CFP®) certification in April 2019. His financial background and advanced certification help him guide those who are uncertain about where they are financially, and put them in a place where they can gain confidence in their financial future.

Brian currently resides in the Canton neighborhood of Baltimore City with his girlfriend, Cameron. When he is not helping clients plan for their retirement, Brian likes to stay fit and active by going to the gym and playing golf on the weekends. Also, being from Baltimore, Brian enjoys sitting down with either friends or family and eating steamed crabs. If you ask him where is the best place to get crabs in the greater Baltimore area, his response would be Bird River Inn & Crab House, a quaint crab house located in Middle River.

CFP Certificate_Brian McKinney

G. Thomas Watson, CFA®, CFP®

Senior Planning Associate & Chairman of Investment Committee

Growing up as an only child in his family in Harford County, Tom enjoyed going out to his local golf course late on weekend afternoons to play nine holes with his dad. It was during this quality time that he learned that having a positive attitude and an even-keeled temperament can help overcome many obstacles.

After attending the College of Charleston and caddying at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, he returned to Maryland and enrolled in the actuarial science program at Towson University to put his aptitude for math and problem solving to good use. When Tom was in college, his father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. In the intervening years before his father finally lost his battle with cancer, Tom saw in the overwhelming support of family and friends just how much impact one individual can have on their community. Although it was a difficult period in his life, Tom graduated with a bachelor of science in mathematics in 2010.

His desire to learn as much as possible about investments drove Tom to earn the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) credential. It's the most respected investment management designation in the world, requiring nearly 1,000 hours of rigorous study. Tom has also earned the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (CFP®) certification since joining Williams Asset Management, which will better enable him to serve our client’s comprehensive financial planning needs and help them meet their financial goals.

He currently resides in Eldersburg, Maryland, with his beautiful wife, Lauren; 12-year-old stepdaughter, Riley; toddler son, George; and infant daughter, Evelyn. The family loves to take walks with their friendly rescue dog, Athena, on the weekends and enjoys spending quality time together around the house or going out for an occasional afternoon round of golf.

CFP Certificate_Tom Watson

Mark Atkinson

Vice President – Investment Operations

Mark grew up in north Baltimore County where he was the youngest of five children. Money was always a concern for Mark and his family. He learned at an early age to work for what you want. Things only got more challenging when his mother died of breast cancer at a young age, but watching his father care for her through years of her disease taught him the importance of family and taking care of each other.

Working part-time, Mark paid his own way through Towson University, graduating debt free with degrees in economics and business, with concentrations in finance and international business. After working with American National Savings Bank and American Express Financial Advisors, he found his true career as part of the Williams Asset Management team.

As vice president of investment operations, Mark serves as the firm’s head trader, manages and monitors our asset allocation models, and is a member of the firm’s investment committee.

He’s been happily married for 36 years to Cathy, who helps manage the pension plan for retired DuPont employees. They have two children and one delightful grandson.

Giving back to others is deeply ingrained in Mark. He spent more than six years as an assistant scoutmaster and troop leader with the Boy Scouts and is active in leadership roles at White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church. He is a member of the church’s stewardship committee and volunteers for Family Promise (working to keep homeless families together and provide support until they are able to find permanent housing) and Workers without Wages (a church group helping people constrained by physical and/or financial limitations with tasks such as painting, cleaning, repairs, and yard work).

John O’Callaghan


John attended the University of South Carolina, starting with a major in risk management and insurance. However, after getting exposed to the stock market in an introductory finance class, John was hooked and decided to add finance as a double major. After completing an internship at Miller Value Partners, John realized that his true interest is building comprehensive financial plans to help people reach their goals and enjoy a comfortable retirement. To hone his financial knowledge, John is currently pursuing further education in the area of financial economics, focusing on investment management and risk management. Ultimately, John’s goal is to become a financial advisor with Williams Asset Management.

John is a native of, and still resides in, Anne Arundel County. He has a close relationship with his parents, younger brother, and extended family, who all live nearby.

John believes a holistic and disciplined approach to a person’s health is critical to their overall happiness and success. He practices what he preaches by adhering to a strict diet and exercising daily. In his free time John likes to read, golf, and spend time with friends and family. Since he is a bit of a sports fanatic, he has also held several coaching and officiating positions with the Green Hornets Athletic Association.


Marie Lee

Office Manager & Executive Assistant to the President

Marie was born in Puerto Rico and moved to the U.S. when she was just a couple months old. She grew up in Howard County, Maryland, with her parents and two sisters. Her positive and cheerful personality and a deeply engrained strong work ethic are instrumental in helping to keep our office flowing. 

Drawing on years of experience working in fast-paced environments, including large companies such as Deloitte and Sinai Hospital, she has mastered the skill of going above-and-beyond to continually exceed expectations, ensure the accuracy and completion of even the smallest details, and deliver a truly exemplary client experience.

Marie also has a longstanding passion for art. She was honored to be awarded a certificate from the Howard County Board of Education as Art Student of the Year—a skill which has taken her far on the creative side of our business, including selecting the art and accessories for our beautifully designed conference room and third-floor offices.

In her spare time, Marie enjoys painting on weekends and spending time with her husband and 8-year-old daughter, Mya.

Diana Abel

Administrative Assistant & Receptionist

Born and raised in Silver Spring Maryland, Diana brings an extensive administrative background to our firm, having worked as an executive assistant to division presidents at large companies including Northrup Grumann and WR Grace. For more than six years, she worked as an executive assistant to the Sales Department at JDSU and was eventually promoted to a financial position where she led the Sales Commissions Team.

After losing her sister to the disease, Diana became a strong advocate and fundraiser for the Lymphoma/Leukemia Society, active each year in the “Light the Night” walk through which she has personally raised more than $10,000 for the charity. In her spare time, Diana is an avid reader, loves to cook, and enjoys spending time with her three children and new granddaughter Bella.


We’re proud to have such an experienced individual serving as our director of first impressions! She is the friendly face you see when you walk in our doors and the voice on the other line when you call into our office.

Matthew Harman

Client Service Associate

Matt attended Washington College where he graduated with a BA in economics. In addition to his focus on academics, Matt was a leader on the men’s rugby team and often tutored other students in economics- and finance-related classes. He was also a member of the International Economics Honors Society. While his coursework set the foundation for his career in financial services, an internship at a financial advisory firm solidified his career path.

Matt’s initial introduction to the business world started with his father, an entrepreneur who formed a successful environmental service company from the ground up. However, as many successful entrepreneurs know, success often follows failure, which was his father’s path. Witnessing his father’s dedication, hard work, and persistence through these triumphs and defeats, including times of financial challenges, helped Matt learn how to apply these values in his life and the workplace.

As a client service associate at Williams Asset Management, Matt plays an integral role in the financial planning process. Working with our associate financial planners and financial advisors, he helps the team provide first-class client service and operational support.

Matt grew up in northern Baltimore County with his twin brother, younger brother, and parents. In his free time, Matt enjoys fishing, boating, and staying fit by playing rugby.

Advanced Planning Team

Our partnership with Commonwealth Financial Network®, a leading Registered Investment Adviser–broker/dealer, gives us access to a team of advanced planning specialists who can help us provide you the best possible service.

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Research Team

Our partnership with Commonwealth Financial Network®, a leading Registered Investment Adviser–broker/dealer, provides us access to a team of investment research specialists who assist us in our efforts to provide you with the best possible service. Each of the professionals on this team brings a breadth of experience in the industry and within his or her own specialization.

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