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John Riley

Personal Finance, Retirement, Investing
“John is the Chief Investment Strategist & Registered Research Analyst for Cornerstone Investment Services, located in RI and TX, which offers Financial Planning, Money Management, Estate Planning and Plan Sponsor Consulting.”

Cornerstone Investment Services

Job Title:

Managing Partner


The foundation of Cornerstone (CIS) lies in the history of her founder, John Riley. As a new broker working for Dean Witter Reynolds in the mid 80’s, John realized the value of conservative investment strategies when he saw investors and brokers, who were not prepared, get surprised by the devastating Crash of 1987. Seeing these events unfold first-hand lead John to focus on conservative and disciplined strategies to grow his clients’ assets.

John established Cornerstone Investment Services in 1999, to offer investors an alternative to Wall Street. Since breaking free of the crowd, John has been able to manage clients’ money in the way that prepares them for the trends he sees and the surprises Wall Street misses. Cornerstone is not beholden unto anyone except their clients.

To best serve his cliental, John passed the Series 86 and 87 exams to become a registered Research Analyst. These registrations were created by the regulators after the research scandals over a decade ago at several of the major wirehouses. “In my experience,” John says, “very few money management firms have a licensed Research Analyst on staff and the number of stock brokers with this registration is minimal. They must rely on others for their research. At Cornerstone I am constantly researching and strategizing, preparing for whatever hand we are dealt.”

John Riley, is also an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®). The AIF® designation is only given to those with expertise in testing and analyzing Plan Sponsors for their compliance to fiduciary standards.  Through John, CIS offers several tests and services that can give Plan Sponsors a clear picture of their fiduciary processes and potential liabilities.

Cornerstone’s primary focus and desire is to help as many investors as possible. You can see this in the way the office staff gets to know everyone personally and works hard to fulfill their administrative needs. You can see it in the way the advisors spend time making sure they understand the needs and wants of each client. And you can see it in the way John runs the company, he is determined to help investors in what, contrary to popular opinion, is not an easy venture for many investors.

The first investment strategy Cornerstone introduced was the Model Portfolio, which utilized “real” risk management. Surprisingly, this was a concept that had been continually discussed but never really practiced by Wall Street. In 1999 the market had become overvalued, to the indifference of many on Wall Street.

Unable to warn clients effectively at a wire-house, John established Cornerstone. Over the years Cornerstone has added other strategies to meet various needs of investors. Financial Planning was also added as a way to help investors get a full view of their financial circumstances and to develop a focused strategy.

Cornerstone’s strategies are foreword thinking, research driven, and based on their own internal analysis and that of some of the most respected research firms in the world.

But John's passion, their collective passion, remains helping investors make sense of investing and helping them achieve their life goals.

Assets Under Management:

$30 million

CRD Number:



Securities offered through Cantella & Company, Inc., Member, FINRA, SIPC, Fee based money management and Financial Planning offered through Cornerstone Investment Services, LLC's RIA

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July 2018
    Retirement, Retirement Plans, Retirement Savings
September 2017
    401(k), Retirement Plans, Retirement Savings
February 2018

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    Retirement, Social Security, IRAs
Where is the best place for my wife and I to place $200,000 if we are in our 70s and want no risk, but maybe some growth?
75% of people found this answer helpful

Your question is typical of ones we have gotten hundreds of times over the years.  You have given some clues as to what you are looking for though.

“No-Risk” is a key term in our business.  No-risk normally means no principal risk, no chance of losing any money. 

“Accessible” is another key term.  It normally means that you want to have daily access to the funds. 

There are only a few investments that would give both no-risk and daily access.  They would include savings accounts, checking and potentially some very short term bank CDs and money markets. 

But then you add in a few more qualifiers.

“Some growth” usually means growth of principal.  Buying a stock for $10 and it later grows to $11.00 is growth of principal.  A CD that pays interest is not growth. 

“Ten years from now” usually means you have a long term horizon. 

No investment offers both growth and no risk.  So we have to do a little more work.  

First, you need to define clearly what you mean by no-risk.  It has been our experience that when some people say no-risk, what they really mean is they don’t want to lose ALL of their money.  Do you mean not a penny of principal risk, or you are willing to live with some volatility? 

Taking a risk test would determine your personal risk score.  It usually ranges from 1 – 100.  Think of it like a speed limit, the higher numbers are riskier.  A score of 30 would be conservative, but still might allow you to have some stocks for growth and bonds for income. 

As for accessibility, does the whole $200,000 need to be fully liquid, or only part of it?  For instance, a portfolio of stocks and bonds has liquidity, but not immediate.  There is a delay of a few days between when you sell a stock and when the cash is available. 

However, if you only really needed to have $5,000 available immediately at any time, you could leave that much or more in the money market in your investment portfolio.  If you feel more comfortable leaving $15,000 in the money market, you can.  So now you can have both immediate liquidity with some of the money and longer term investments like stocks and bonds with some of the money. 

By asking the right questions, an advisor could put together a portfolio that satisfies everything you are looking for.  Some safety, some growth, some liquidity and accessibility. 

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


John Riley is a registered Research Analyst and has been the Chief Investment Strategist at Cornerstone Investment Services since 1999. (In the business since 1986.) 

Disclosure: Third party posts do not reflect the views of Cantella & Co Inc. or Cornerstone Investment Services, LLC. Any links to third party sites are believed to be reliable but have not been independently reviewed by Cantella & Co. Inc or Cornerstone Investment Services, LLC. Securities offered through Cantella & Co., Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory Services offered through Cornerstone Investment Services, LLC's RIA. Please refer to my website for states in which I am registered.


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