Some of the 2,000 residents of Norfolk, Conn., call stockbroker Bill Donaldson a real trooper. But they're not talking about his determination and can-do attitude during bearish market conditions. Besides working a book of business as a broker and co-principal with Vista Financial Strategies, Donaldson is a state trooper with the Connecticut State Police Department.
For the past six years, Donaldson has been the resident state trooper in Norfolk, the town where he grew up. Essentially, he is a one-man police department for the sleepy community nestled in the northeast corner of Connecticut's Litchfield County, near the Massachusetts border.
“People call me for every conceivable problem you can imagine, ranging from ‘My kid won't go to school; can you come talk to him?’ to ‘My daughter's been raped by her stepfather.’ And as state police officers, we investigate most of our own cases,” he says.
He likes having a high profile in Norfolk. “The interesting thing about being a resident state trooper is that everyone gets to know you,” Donaldson says. The kids call him Trooper Bill.
Summertime is especially busy as the town's population swells from an influx of vacationers from New York and students attending the summer program of the Yale School of Music. “But they're not exactly big troublemakers,” he says, with a laugh.
Still, police work can be risky even in the charming town of Norfolk.
“I've had some extremely dangerous situations,” Donaldson says. “One was a domestic violence situation with a weapon involved, and I had to wrestle a guy with a rifle under his arm. Another one was a guy dropping a shell into his shotgun when I walked in.”
That's the kind of excitement that attracted Donaldson to the field when he was just a teenager. In high school, Donaldson and a buddy were so determined to become cops that they drove around the area interviewing all the police officers they could find.
“I can't believe how focused we were,” he says. “I can remember counting down the time it would take me to become a state trooper. It was all I could think about.”
After high school, Donaldson enrolled at Westfield State College in Westfield, Mass., and majored in criminal justice. He also took some economics courses and discovered he was just as intrigued by the effect of compound interest as he was by the influence of sociological factors on homicides. So, in 1998, he passed the Series 7 exam and became a registered rep.
Today, he leads a double life, spending about 40 hours a week as a trooper and another 40 as a rep. When he's not working the police beat, Donaldson drives about 60 miles south to the shoreline town of Stratford, Conn., and the office of Vista Financial (United Planners Financial Services is his broker/dealer).
And after three years as a registered rep, Donaldson says he is seriously considering trading in his holster to focus on his career in financial services.
“This is a little bit of a nicer environment,” he says. “It does get tiring dealing with people who are yelling and swearing at you. It does wear on you after a while. When I'm working at Vista, I don't have to ever worry about things like that.”