40 Under 40 The Class of 2012

Christopher Connelly: 36

President, Foley/Connelly Financial Partners

Connelly-ChristopherRight out of college in 1998, Christopher Connelly went directly into financial planning. And he knew there were several ways he could proceed in this business.
“You can go to work for a larger financial corporation, or you can become an independent,” he said, adding that, like most, he worked for a large firm with the goal of later becoming independent, which he did. “In 2004, through some networking and strategic planning, I partnered with Brian Foley, who owned a property and casualty insurance agency. We decided to build a strategic alliance, where you get a partner with a group of clients who isn’t in the same field as yourself, but similar.”
Jokingly, he added, “if I wanted to be what I thought was mediocre, I’d be in a large branch and have them pay for my hard costs. But what I wanted was to have my own world, and have my own company. I knew that, if I wanted to be extraordinary, independent was and is the way to go.”
It wasn’t long before the firm branched out itself. Connelly jointly founded the partner company Foley/Connelly Benefits Group, focusing exclusively on employee benefits. At the same time, he knows that life isn’t just work and no play.
Recognizing the abundance of charity golf tournaments held every year, Connelly and his friend Rob Desilets, owner of local screen-printing shop Pro Style Graphics, decided to capitalize on what he called his “fraternity of hockey-league friends.” Playing off the name of the NHL trophy, the two started the Stanley Keg Tournament, a fund-raising event that takes place annually at the MassMutual Center, and which donates thousands every year to a local charity decided upon by the member players.
Past recipients have included the American Cancer Society/Leukemia Lymphoma Society, Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield, and Griffin’s Friends at Baystate. To acknowledge those who might prefer the links to the rink, the Stanley Keg has grown into a summer golf tournament, and there are plans to add poker to the events.
Independent and extraordinary — that’s an award-winning combination.
— Dan Chase