Howard County Financial Advisors | Williams Asset Management

About Us | Our Team

Financial Advisors in Columbia MD

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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.

Best in Maryland financial advisor Gary Williams

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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, 2020, and 2021 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, and the Investment Committee for Mount Saint Joseph High School Endowment.

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.

*The 2021 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, approximately 32,725 advisors were considered, and 5,000 (approximately 15.3 percent of candidates) were recognized. The full methodology2 that Forbes developed in partnership with SHOOK Research is available at

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 2020—a distinction based on annual production attained by just 6 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®

Senior Financial Advisor & Principal

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.

vista_seal (1)

Nicholas Ibello is proud to have been recognized as a Vista Club advisor for 2021—a distinction based on annual production that places him among the top 27 percent of advisors affiliated with Commonwealth Financial Network. 

Each year, Commonwealth, the firm we partner with to help us better serve you, recognizes Vista Club advisors by inviting them to an exclusive gathering of their peers, leading industry experts, and Commonwealth home office staff. Vista Club 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 Baltimore County, in the Lutherville-Timonium area, 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 Financial Planner & 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 resides in Eldersburg, Maryland, with his beautiful wife, Lauren, and their children, Riley, George, and 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

Daniel Plaut, CFA®, CFP®

Investment Operations Specialist

Dan grew up in Baltimore County as one of four kids. Both of Dan’s parents started their careers as nurses, but once the kids started coming, Dan’s mom decided to stay at home to raise them. Fortunately, Dan’s dad started his own business while in nursing school, which provided enough income to make this possible. While his father’s business provided enough income to support the family, Dan’s parents still had to manage their money prudently to meet the financial goals they had set for themselves.

Among their top priorities was paying for college for all four of their kids. This required hard work, frugal decision-making, and disciplined saving and investing to achieve. Ultimately Dan’s parents were able to put all four of their children through college without anyone needing to take out loans. Growing up in a house where fiscal responsibility was always a priority, and seeing the outcomes of good money management, inspired Dan to pursue a career where he could help other families accomplish what his own family had been fortunate enough to accomplish.

Dan attended St. Mary’s College of Maryland where he majored in economics and minored in mathematics. After beginning his career with Merrill Lynch and earning his Series 7 and 66 licenses, Dan decided to pursue the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) designation to further his knowledge of investments. After spending the next few years of his career with Morgan Stanley, Dan realized that he would be much happier working for a smaller firm—as opposed to another big investment bank—where he could have a more personal connection with his clients.

Dan joined the Williams Asset Management team in March 2021 to fill the role left by Mark Atkinson’s retirement. Dan now serves as the firm’s head trader, manages and monitors our asset allocation models, and is a member of the firm’s investment committee. Dan has also earned the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) certification since joining the team, which will better enable him to serve our client’s comprehensive financial planning needs and help them meet their financial goals.

Dan lives in the Locust Point neighborhood in Baltimore City. In his free time, he enjoys playing soccer, hiking, and camping. He has run a few marathons as well and is very dedicated to working out and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. He also volunteers on weekends for the Healthy Harbor Initiative to help with their oyster gardening effort to clean up Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.

John O’Callaghan, CFP®

Senior Paraplanner

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.

Matthew Hess


Matt attended Randolph-Macon College where he graduated with a BA in business with a concentration in finance along with a minor in economics. Throughout his education and experiences, finance and stock market investment have always piqued his interest. After careful consideration and research of his career options, Matt found that building long-lasting relationships is a priority of his, which led him to his goal of becoming a financial advisor.

Growing up in Fenwick Island, DE, he witnessed firsthand the hard work of his role models—his mother and other adults close to him growing up—and also the importance of a vigorous work ethic and the value of financial freedom. Matt’s desire to learn and explore the world of the financial services industry led him to pursue a career with Williams Asset Management with the ultimate goal of leading others in their own pursuit of financial freedom.

As a paraplanner at Williams Asset Management, Matt plays an integral role in the financial planning process. Working with our financial advisors, he helps the team provide first-class client service and our clients reach their financial goals.

Matt resides in Howard County, MD. Outside of the office, he enjoys spending his free time learning new things, catching fish, playing golf, and spending quality time with his family and friends.

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 two children, Mya and Adrian.

Sandy Bryan

Senior Client Service Associate

Born in France, Sandy spent most of her youth in Barcelona, Spain, where she graduated with a BA in international business management. Sandy started her career working for a consulting company in Spain before moving to the U.S., where she met her husband. After years in banking, where she won the Market All-Star Award, she realized her passion was in financial planning, this is when she decided to dedicate her career to helping her clients reach their financial goals. This has motivated her to start studying for her CFP ® certification and looks forward to following her passion of becoming a financial planner.

Sandy has regularly been described as a person with a positive attitude and a desire to exceed clients’ expectations. Organized and resourceful, she always knows where to go to find the answer to any problem that may arise. 

As a client service associate at Williams Asset Management, Sandy works alongside our associate financial planners and financial advisors to provide first-rate client service and operational support—an essential role in the financial planning process.

Sandy lives in Howard County with her husband, Dylan, along with their golden retriever, Echo. During her free time, she enjoys hiking with her dog, learning new skills, and traveling. 


Karissa Goessl

Client Service Associate

Karissa was born and raised in Syracuse, New York as the youngest of two children She developed a strong interest in the finance industry in her teenage years after seeing and experiencing the economic struggles of her own family. This gave her the drive to start her career and learn more on how she could help others. She attended Le Moyne College in New York, where she completed a BS in business with a concentration in finance and business analytics. 
After leaving school, she started her career in 2013 at a well-known broker-dealer. During this time, she earned her securities license and spent many years working on various trade desks. This allowed her the opportunity to work with and speak to many financial advisors. It was through her close interactions with them that she realized she wanted to work directly with clients to help them achieve their goals through financial planning. 
Once Karissa found the opportunity to become a part of the Williams Asset Management team as a client service associate, she relocated to Maryland. Karissa has a strong work ethic and is dedicated to growing her knowledge of the financial services industry as well as ultimately studying to achieve her CFP ® certification to better enable our clients to reach their goals. 
As a client service associate, Karissa plays an integral role in the financial planning process. Working with our associate financial planners and financial advisors, she helps the team provide first-class client service and operational support.
Karissa currently lives in Baltimore County with her son, Stanley. In her free time, she enjoys reading, baking, and going on adventures with Stanley.

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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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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