Paying It Forward

Growing up in a low-income family, Mark Esposito of Esposito Global finds his drive for success is almost as strong as his need to give back

LEARNING THE VALUE OF A DOLLAR early on in life, Mark Esposito has dedicated his successful career to giving back. He devotes efforts and money to causes that measure ROI not by the profit, but by the number of lives changed.

On the surface, a blue-paper ticket is innocuous. But growing up, Mark Esposito grew to despise what his blue-paper ticket stood for as he gave it to the school-lunch mistress in his hometown of Branford, Connecticut. All the kids from his neighboring affluent community knew what it meant to carry a blue ticket. It labeled Esposito as poor and a boy who depended upon the government for his well-being.

“Money was very tight growing up,” says Esposito, the son of a grocery-store clerk and a stay-at-home mom turned bookkeeper. “We didn’t have disposable income.” Though his father went on to purchase and run a convenience store in his teenage years, Esposito recalls the lessons learned from his childhood experience as being from a poor family. “After my dad lost his job and I had to go on the government lunch plan, that put the fear of God in me. From that point, I vowed that neither I nor my family would ever again be in that position.”

Today the 42-year-old businessman is a walking billboard for success, and still remembers his humble beginnings. Heading Esposito Global, a multimillion-dollar global securities firm, Esposito is able to regularly donate thousands of dollars to local, national, and international charities. Living in a time when greed may be classified as “good” and excess symbolizes success, Esposito manages to defy traditional business practices and devote money to causes and organizations in which the ROI is measured not in profits but by changed lives.

Esposito’s foundation funded Christmas toys for an entire boys’ home, fed more than 32 families one Thanksgiving, and many more global projects. He has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities worldwide. “Is there a business case for charitable giving?” Esposito wonders. “I have no answer for that. But I feel God has blessed me and I want to give back in the best way I can. Difficult life lessons learned from long ago have created in me a spirit of giving and, for me, it’s simply the right thing to do.”

Fueled by an intense desire to succeed and make a difference, Esposito worked diligently while in high school and adopted his parents’ prudent attitude toward money. “Except for their home, my parents didn’t buy anything unless they could pay for it with cash.” Esposito was admitted to the University of Connecticut where he majored in finance. Wall Street always held an allure for him, and Mark knew he wanted to be in the business world.

His career started in 1992, when many finance jobs were being eliminated. He graduated with a lot of great internships but no offers on Wall Street. One week prior to starting the executive-training program at Walmart, Esposito was en route to Bentonville, Arkansas when he got a call from a friend. She mentioned a “perfect job” for Esposito working on Wall Street. He never made it to Arkansas, because two days after his interview, he was hired by J.P. Morgan Chase on Wall Street.

After three years of working for a bank, Esposito knew he wasn’t cut out to be in the role of administration, and he transitioned to sales. His aptitude for getting new accounts bordered on “savant,” and Mark quickly became a top producer. In 2006, Mark founded the Esposito Global group of companies. Today, the brokerage arm trades stocks in more than 100 countries for big banks and money managers and also invests in companies. Though the industry is highly competitive, Esposito has directed sustained profitability, even in down markets, due to his tenacious focus on pleasing clients. “My clients trust and believe in me,” he says. “[The company] provides unique and futuristic products and services that the ‘big guys’ won’t offer. They aren’t nimble enough to adapt quickly or to offer these personalized services.”