Collecting coins, saving money in a piggy bank, questioning the cost of every single item, calculating investment returns, watching Maria Bartiromo on CNBC. This about sums up my childhood. Plus basketball..can't leave out basketball.
Beautiful Westchester County, NY is the place I have been proud to call home for pretty much my entire life. I have been with my amazing wife Karen since freshman year in high school. 9th Grade! Yes, that is correct...since I am 14 years old. Some things in life are destined to be and for us, we both knew it right away. Having a soulmate is a real thing and I was lucky enough to find mine at a very young age. We have three beautiful and active (aka difficult) children that keep us on our toes ;)
I always knew my life would be spent working in the Investing/Financial Markets profession. It is what I was born to do, but it was not a straight easy ride that led me to this point. There were a lot of highs and lows, a lot of leaps of faith, a lot of following our dreams, and a lot of uncertainty. We are the type of people that go for it in life. No regrets. We often choose the road less traveled...and that has made all the difference.
I graduated from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY in 2000 with a degree in Finance. I always dreamt of trading stocks down on Wall Street, so that is what I set out to do. It was a great experience. After September 11th, I made the decision to get a job back in Westchester. I was 23 years old living at home with a lot of marriage talk flying around.
A friend of mine was doing great at a local bank selling loans, deposit accounts, and investments. I went on an interview and spent the next 7 years working in all different aspects of the bank. There were a lot of things I enjoyed about that job. I almost became a regional manager (thank god that didn't happen), but the Great Recession of 2008-2009 came and everything changed in a flash. Looking back, the bank was an amazing experience. I was dealing with real people all day every day about their money. I saw the emotional side and how people went about managing their finances. I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do just by observing the habits of the bank clients (especially during the recession). The best part was I had the opportunity to sit and talk with the wealthiest clients of the bank, become friends, and learn from them. Listening and communicating about a tough subject like money became one of my strongest skills thanks to that job.
In 2009 during the deepest part of the recession with a two-year-old at home, I took a big leap of faith and went to work at MetLife in a 100% commission position. As you can imagine this was both challenging and stressful. My income was cut in half from when I was at the bank, but I loved the idea of building my own client base from the ground up. Those first few years were a big struggle, but eventually, it got easier and easier and I was building a nice business doing what I loved - helping people with their money. Most people immediately think of selling life insurance when they hear Metlife, but I was allowed to focus on investments and financial planning and actually sold very little life insurance. I made many strong, life-lasting friendships and bonds with my clients, but Metlife was in a constant state of change. They really didn't know what direction they wanted to go in as a company. This made my life very difficult. MetLife ultimately decided to sell all the financial advisors to MassMutual and it was no longer a good fit for the business I had worked so hard to build. Knowing that I had no choice but to move on, one thing I knew for certain was that I was going to own my next job. I would never again be at the mercy of a board of directors making decisions from hundreds of miles away that directly impacted me and my family.
Honestly, I hated working for large financial institutions for so many reasons that I can go on forever about. That is what pushed me to start my own firm. A firm where the clients and the relationships I build come before anything else. Where I have zero pressure to sell products to people who trusted me so I could hit some sales goal to make my boss look like he was good at his job. I knew I would only truly be happy if I was able to run things the way I thought was best.
Being a big believer that having an all-encompassing financial plan is the best way to reach your goals and achieve financial success, it was only logical for me to become a Certified Financial Planner™.
In 2011 we found out my wife was pregnant with our second child. I knew at that moment I needed to get it done before she was born. I enrolled in the accelerated program, took classes at night and on weekends, and sat for the two-day exam nine months later. Becoming a CFP® and taking a fiduciary oath to put my client's interests first was a big step forward in my career.
In 2015 after years of working with teachers and clients approaching retirement, I decided to enroll in the Retirement Income Certification Program. I wanted to be known as an expert, and this was an important designation to help me differentiate myself from other advisors.
Beliefs & Vision
I have a passion for helping people figure out their finances. I truly enjoy it. Not all people are wired to deal with personal finances, but the truth is it is super important to live a happy life. I also love teaching this to people. My goal is to help people that struggle with all this stuff. I did not start this business to only help people who are already well off. The need for personal financial advice, education, and guidance that is easily available and affordable is never going away. I am hoping I can make a difference. Please feel free to reach out to me if you need help!
Building a community, offering YouTube videos, online courses, individual financial planning, investment management, and being a trusted fiduciary advisor is my vision for the School of Personal Finance.