A conversation with Forbes Top Advisor Paul Pagnato, CEO Founder of PagnatoKarp
Throughout this series we’ve shared the unique stories of quality advisors who have taken extraordinary steps through their careers to find the best way to serve clients and grow their businesses.
And the guest in this episode is certainly an example of “extraordinary” on all counts.
Paul Pagnato, CEO and Founder of PagnatoKarp, is a four-time ranked Forbes Top Wealth Advisor with an interesting story to share: Before starting his career as a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch, he was a microbiologist with NASA and McDonnell Douglas.
Yet after building a successful wealth management business at Merrill, Paul and partner David Karp left in 2011 to become one of the first teams to join HighTower Advisors—a firm which they would leave in 2016 to form their own fee-only RIA based on what they call True Fiduciary® Transparency Standards.
Paul shares his fascinating breakaway story, including:
- Why they left Merrill for HighTower—and why they ultimately chose to leave HighTower for full-on independence.
- How their clients responded to two moves in a relatively short time-frame—and what the most important thing was that Paul and his partner said to convince them to follow.
- How adopting a strong value proposition based on transparency has impacted PagnatoKarp’s growth—and why he feels they needed to move to the independent space to deliver on this value proposition.
- Why he feels the ability to act as a “true fiduciary” in serving clients’ interests is not possible in the bank and broker dealer world—and what his firm can do now to best serve their clients that they could not do before forming their own RIA.
A unique journey from NASA scientist to wealth advisor to entrepreneur-led Paul down an exceptional path of evolution and growth. It’s a story driven by an intense level of passion to serve clients free of conflict and with complete transparency—one that all advisors can learn from.
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About Paul Pagnato:
Paul A. Pagnato is CEO Founder at PagnatoKarp, an independent multi-family office and wealth management firm based in Reston, Virginia, with over $4.5 billion assets under advisement¹. Paul is ranked #2 in Virginia on Barron’s Top 1,200 Financial Advisors and #1 in Virginia on Forbes Top Wealth Advisors² lists.
Paul is also founder of the TrueFiduciary® Institute, a non-profit with a Massive Transformational Purpose of positively impacting one million lives through digital education and True Fiduciary® standards of exponential transparency, targeting the well-being of students, individuals and advisors.
PagnatoKarp’s Intelligent Wealth Management™ Experience helps streamline lives through high-touch sophistication, expert advice and transparency. Family Office Fusion combines portfolio, planning, tax, legal, private banking, family governance, and lifestyle services for the ultra-high-net-worth. With True Fiduciary® standards, advice is transparent, objective and puts the best interests of clients first.
Paul has been advising clients for more than 25 years, including founders, CEOs, business owners and families. Paul previously worked through HighTower Advisors and spent 19 years with Merrill Lynch, where he founded the Washington, D.C. Private Banking & Investment office. Before entering the financial services industry, he was a scientist for McDonnell Douglas.
In the community, PagnatoKarp is proud to be partnered with Barron’s, sponsoring top universities through the Barron’s In Education program to help strengthen financial literacy and foster tomorrow’s leaders. Sponsorships include University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Penn State, William & Mary, George Mason, University of Georgia, University of Texas and Florida Atlantic University.
Paul serves on the Singularity University Leadership Team and the Board of Directors for Envel, The Institute for the Fiduciary Standard, FAU Foundation, INOVA Health Care System, the True Fiduciary® Institute, and Pinstriped Prospects. Locally, he is a member of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Association for Corporate Growth Awards.
Paul is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University and The Executive Program at Singularity University. He and his wife, Angela, reside in Vienna, Virginia.
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