Star Gazette Adviser Committed to DowntownHorseheads native opened financial business after employer left.By RACHEL ADAMSSpecial to the Star-Gazette[email protected]A line of thank-you cards decorates the fireplace mantel behind Michael Mustico’ desk.His customers are just returning the favor for a job well done.Mustico, 32, of Horseheads, has owned and operated The Mustico Financial Group Inc. in Elmira since 1999, with a brief hiatus to manage the Elmira office of Merrill Lynch. When Merrill Lynch consolidated its offices in 2002 and asked Mustico to do business in Corning, he refused, having promised his clients he’ stay where they were."It didn’ seem right to leave town on them, even if it was just to Corning," he said.Mustico, who was born and raised in Horseheads, can’ stay away from Elmira. After earning a law degree from Syracuse University, he went to work for the accounting firm Coopers & Lybrand, then attended Notre Dame University and graduated with a degree in accounting. Even with this experience, Mustico knew he had to return to the region he loved best."I always wanted to come back," he said. "It’ rewarding when you have clients who were former teachers."Business in Elmira couldn’ be better, Mustico said."The business environment in Elmira is very conducive to success," he said. "Everyone in the county is very pro-business."Even parking, which plagues many downtown business owners, ceased to be a problem after Mustico contacted City Manager Samuel F. Iraci Jr. about the need for two-hour parking meters instead of the one-hour meter near his business; clients were continually interrupting meetings to go feed the meter. Days later, two-hour parking meters were installed.The firm, which includes Dennis Ingalls, a certified public accountant, and Mustico’ wife, Lisa, an administrative assistant, helps clients make financial decisions through investment management, financial advising and asset protection.Mustico said his degrees in law and accounting give him an edge over his competitors; financial planners often work closely with attorneys but don’ understand "legalese" -- and vice versa, by being experienced in both fields, Mustico doesn’ have that problem."We have the expertise of an attorney, CPA and investment adviser into one firm," Mustico said. "We offer comprehensive plans instead of uncoordinated individual strategies."As the thank-you cards evidence, Mustico’ customers appreciate both his expertise and the firm’ human touch -- some clients even cross state boundaries to do business with him.Diane Gibbons, a Horseheads native who now lives in southwestern New Hampshire, has done business with Mustico for four years. Mostly they have consultations over the phone, but Gibbons stops by the office when she visits hometown relatives.For Gibbons, the nearly 300-mile drive is worth it."Over time I’ become more and more impressed with him," Gibbons said. "There’ a way in which (Mustico) is extremely professional and also extremely caring."Gibbons appreciates the personal touch Mustico Financial Group works hard to provide."I think he really gives his all for his clients -- I certainly feel like he’ done that for us," Gibbons said. "He’ just an amazing man with a good heart as well as great knowledge."Mustico has no plans to leave his post in Elmira."I really feel blessed that I have such a nice clientele," he said. "It makes me feel like I’ making a difference in the lives of people I’ grown up with."The Mustico Financial Group Inc.- Address: 304 William St.- Phone: 607/733-7935.- Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Later hours are available by appointment.- Employees: Three.- Notable: Michael Mustico is the fourth member of his family to have an office in the same building. His father Donald Mustico, great- uncle Lewis Mustico and cousin John Mustico all previously practiced law at 304 William St.