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Business Observer Friday, Oct. 29, 2021 1 year ago

Mother-son team build solid financial services niche

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With a model of transparent client communication, early and often, Roxane Kronon Galati and Jeff Galati landed on a winning formula.
by: Beth Luberecki Contributor

When Jeff Galati decided to take his dog to the park one weekend four years ago, he didn’t know it would wind up being a major career move. But as Galati was crossing Goodlette Road in Naples, Kevin Erndl just happened to drive by.

‘Be truthful. Do what’s right by your clients, and things will work out in the end. Sometimes we tell (clients) things they don’t want to hear, but it’s the right thing to tell them. So just do things the right way and be honest.' Jeff Galati, Capital Wealth Advisors

Erndl was a partner at Naples-based Capital Wealth Advisors, an independent financial advisory firm that offers wealth advisory, estate planning and family office services. He had known Jeff’s wife, Caroline, for years, and he knew Jeff and his mom, Roxane Kronon Galati, ran their own financial planning and investment advisory firm in Naples called AmeriPlanning and Investments.

Seeing Jeff that day inspired Erndl to pick up the phone to talk with the Galatis about joining the team at Capital Wealth Advisors. “If I didn’t take that walk with my dog, who knows what things would be?” says Jeff Galati, 33.

The mother-son duo joined CWA in 2018, and in August they were each named executive vice president of private wealth management. The new roles and titles are recognition of their hard work and value they bring to the company. It also marks the continuation of a somewhat unusual partnership in financial services, which tend to lean heavy on father-son combos, not mother and son.

“Our titles are run by merit, so there’s very little subjectivity that goes into our titles,” says Erndl. “They’re going to be based on performance. And what Jeff and Roxane have accomplished in four years at CWA is something that most financial advisors would be satisfied with and consider a very successful career.”

Jeff and Roxane currently provide investment advisory services to approximately 130 households, say CWA officials, having closed up their other business and moved over all their clients. Since then, says Jeff Galati, the “growth has just been phenomenal….We fit in very well from the get-go here and have been able to keep the same business practices, just with more expanded offerings.” Officials declines to disclose specific assets under management or other revenues figures.

Stefania Pifferi. Jeff Galati and Roxane Kronon Galati were recently promoted to help oversee private wealth management at Naples-based Capital Wealth Advisors.

Making plans

Roxane Kronon Galati, 65, began her career in accounting, earning her CPA designation in 1979. In 1994 she and her family moved to Naples, where she bought an accounting company from its previous owner who needed to sell due to illness. She ran Hayes & Galati for 10 years and could barely keep up with demand as the Naples area grew.

But after several years of working 100-hour weeks around tax time, Roxane wanted out. None of her kids were interested in accounting, so she sold the business in 2004.

She had also earned the Certified Financial Planner designation and her insurance license over the course of her career. So once she sold her firm, she began to use her expertise and education while working for New York Life Insurance and helping clients with retirement and estate planning through her company, Galati Financial.

When Jeff Galati graduated from the University of Alabama in 2009 with a degree in finance and economics, meanwhile, it wasn’t the best time to look for a job in financial services thanks to the recession. He wanted to be in Naples and took a job as an agent with New York Life Insurance, with goals of getting into investment management.

“Jeff was extremely coachable, always punctual and for someone right out of college he was definitely professional and mature,” says Greg Jensen, the now-retired former managing partner of the South Florida office of New York Life. “He really had his goals and objectives clearly aligned as to what he wanted to do. It was a really easy decision on my part; he definitely was someone we really wanted to have in our organization.”

In 2016, Jeff — who holds both the Chartered Life Underwriter and Certified Financial Planner designations — joined his mom and the two launched AmeriPlanning and Investments. As they grew that business, they utilized some of the same philosophies they still practice today. A big one? The importance of communicating, and over-communicating, with clients.

“Return phone calls and emails promptly, even if you can’t help them at that moment, just so they’re acknowledged,” says Roxane Kronon Galati. “People need to be acknowledged.”

That emphasis on communication starts right when clients initially come to them. “We need to understand the client first, and then we can tailor things around them,” says Jeff Galati. “Before we ever recommend anything, we make sure we have an understanding of what the client’s situation is and make sure any recommendations we make are appropriate for that. We’re not going to just throw recommendations out without truly understanding the position the client is in.”

Team players

When Erndl approached the Galatis, they could see the benefits of hooking up with a bigger firm. CWA has more than 40 employees and offices in North Carolina along with its Naples headquarters. It serves clients in more than 40 states.

“We had hung our own shingle and were on our own, but we needed to expand our bench, so to speak, and have deeper investment management offerings than we could offer just the two of us,” says Jeff Galati.

It would also give them the chance to concentrate on their financial skills while not worrying about all the things that come with running a business, whether that’s filling out paperwork or figuring out how the carpet in the office is going to be cleaned. “It allowed us to really focus on what we’re good at, and what that boils down to is meeting and helping people,” says Jeff Galati.

Just as they did when they were on their own, Roxane works with clients on financial, tax and estate planning, while Jeff handles the investment management side of things. Roxane appreciates that Jeff now gets to be part of a bigger investment management team, where he can get insight and guidance from other advisors as he continues to grow in his career. “It was very apparent that the firm has a process, and everything that is done is done with a great understanding as to why it’s being done,” she says.

The relationship has worked well for both sides.

“They are two of the most organized and disciplined people when it comes to managing client relationships,” says Erndl. “They have impeccable follow-up….You work so hard to attract and win clients. It’s critical to service them, to communicate with them and retain that relationship for the long term. And their focus really is on long-term, high-quality relationships.”

With four decades of experience, Roxane is always willing to share her expertise with both clients and CWA staff. “If other advisors have a question on retirement plans, I can usually help them out since that is my skill set,” she says.

That team mentality is another reason the Galatis have risen to the positions they have at CWA. “We have a number of metrics that we look at when advancing people in the company,” says Bill Beynon, CWA’s cofounder, president and CEO. “It’s not just about financial growth. There are a variety of other things, and Roxane and Jeff have hit every one of them. We have a team culture here, and Roxane and Jeff have been great at chipping in and helping other advisors and always being available for questions if people need help with things.”

Jeff himself has also learned a lot from his mother over the years. A key lesson? “Be truthful,” he says. “Do what’s right by your clients, and things will work out in the end. Sometimes we tell people things they don’t want to hear, but it’s the right thing to tell them. So just do things the right way and be honest.”

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