WSR Pathfinder Awards – Top Hispanic Industry Leaders Of 2023

Janeesa Hollingshead, Contributing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

WSR Completes 2023 Pathfinder Awards By Honoring Outstanding Hispanic Professionals And Two Organizations During National Hispanic Heritage Month

At WSR we are always excited for the next installment of Pathfinder Awards. This week’s awards in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month complete the second full year of honoring excellence in executives and professionals from underrepresented communities in wealth management, and organizations that advance them.

The WSR Pathfinder Awards begin each year in February honoring Black History Month, proceed through the year with Women’s History Month and AAPI Heritage Month, and complete in early October by honoring excellent Hispanic wealth management advisors, professionals and executives, as well as organizations serving the Hispanic community.

As always, the executives selected for this month’s awards have demonstrated dedication to and broad influence in the industry, extensive experience and a strong track record in wealth management, and the ability to serve as role models to others considering a career or building a career in wealth management.

Pathfinder Awards serve a second and equally valuable purpose – to provide a platform for those from underrepresented backgrounds to speak to the industry about DEI and matters of importance. We will publish several concurrent articles for this purpose.

Please join us in congratulating the winners, who are in alphabetical order below:

Hispanic COO of the Year

Jorge Bernal, COO, SageView Advisory Group

Jorge Bernal, COO, SageView Advisory Group

SageView Advisory Group appointed Jorge Bernal as COO in July 2022, to provide strategic leadership and oversight, as well as help set and execute the firm’s growth strategy. The firm has over $170 billion in retirement plan assets and its wealth management division has over $4 billion in client assets.

Prior to SageView, Bernal was a Managing Director and co-Head of Advisory Services at Goldman Sachs Personal Financial Management where he led over 250 financial advisors with approximately $35 billion in assets.

Prior to Goldman Sachs, he was COO at United Capital Advisors, where he participated in the sale to Goldman Sachs; SVP at Fidelity Investments; a Managing Director at JP Morgan Chase; and a VP of Customer Service & Sales at Citibank. His career began at American Express as a Supervisor on the Latin American Risk Management team.

Outside of work, Bernal is a Board Member of Family Getaway, a nonprofit that helps children and families affected by homelessness by providing stability and support services.

Hispanic Opportunity Organization of the Year

BLX Internship Program

Luis Rosa, Co-Founder & Board Member, BLX Internship Program

BLX (BLatinX) Internship Program was founded in December 2020 in the spirit of the Black Lives Matter movement by fee-only advisors Chloe Moore, Luis Rosa, Emlen Miles-Mattingly and Shawn Tydlaska, with the goal of providing opportunity for aspiring Black and Latinx financial planners to obtain internships at fee-only financial planning firms. Since inception, 36 firms have participated.

The current application period for internships opened on Oct. 1. In addition to matching interns with firms, BLX also provides hiring, onboarding and DEI resources for firms, as well as professional development resources and a private online community for participating interns. It is developing an online community for participating firms and scholarship opportunities for CFP coursework, industry conferences and more.

“We endeavor to create opportunities for Black and Latinx individuals to enter the profession, while also offering financial planning firms access to a broader range of skilled professionals from diverse backgrounds,” said Rosa, who is a Board Member and Co-Founder of BLX. “Our mission is to increase the diversity of the financial planning industry to better reflect the population of our country.”

Hispanic Sales Executive of the Year

Theresa de Leon, EVP, National Director of Sales, Arden Trust

Theresa de Leon, EVP, National Director of Sales, Arden Trust

Arriving last year at Arden Trust, a subsidiary of Kestra Holdings, Theresa de Leon has over two decades of experience in wealth management and trust services. In her role leading the sales team, she focuses on relationships with RIAs, brokerages and Kestra Holdings-associated partners.

Prior to Arden, she served as National Director for Personal Wealth Management at Comerica Bank, and before that over 13 years at various roles at PNC including SVP Managing Director.

Outside the office, de Leon has been involved in charitable and public interest organizations including as Chairman of the Board of Governors for Palisades Medical Center, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the American Conference on Diversity, and a Board Member and Co-Chair of the Development Committee for The Mayo Performing Arts Center.

She has received numerous accolades, including being named among the 50 Best Women in Business by NJ Biz for 2016.

Hispanic Entrepreneur of the Year

Lorenzo Esparza, CEO and Founding Principal, Manhattan West

Lorenzo Esparza, CEO & Founding Principal, Manhattan West

In 2016, Lorenzo Esparza broke away from JP Morgan, where he was an Executive Director, founding minority-owned firm Manhattan West, which serves high net worth clients including entertainers, athletes and media executives. The firm has over $1 billion in assets under management (AUM) and emphasizes white glove service and unique access to alternative investments.

He sits on the board of several portfolio companies, is the general partner or managing member of over 30 investment funds and serves as special advisor to several institutions.

Born to immigrant parents from Mexico, Esparza gained a law degree, then spent seven years in film and production at Paramount Pictures before transitioning into financial services, where he began at Alliance Bernstein before joining JP Morgan Securities.

Esparza supports causes to benefit underprivileged youth, is a former Board Member of the Richstone Family Center, the former Board Chair of the Cancer Support Community-Benjamin Center in Santa Monica and a former Board Member of the Stroke Association of Southern California.

Hispanic Marketing Executive of the Year

Kelly Lora Ewart, Head of Marketing, Ballentine Partners

Kelly Lora Ewart, Head of Marketing, Ballentine Partners

With over two decades of leadership experience, Kelly Lora Ewart joined Ballentine Partners in 2023 as Head of Marketing, responsible for creating strategies that enhance the firm’s brand and positioning.

Before Ballentine, she was VP of Strategic Relationships at PURE Insurance, an AVP of Sales and Marketing at W.R. Berkley, and held various roles at Chubb, rising from Insurance Underwriter to AVP and Strategic Partnership Manager over 14 years.

Ewart is a member of ALPHA (Association of Latino Professionals for America) and BEPC (Boston Estate Planning Council). She completed an executive certificate program at the Latino Leadership Institute of the UCLA Anderson School of Management. She also is Chair of the UHNW Institute’s DEI Advisory Committee, a member of Ballentine’s DEI Committee and leads the firm’s sponsorship of the CFP Board Diversity Summit.

Hispanic Product Development Executive of the Year

Dani Fava, Group Head, Product Innovation, Envestnet

Dani Fava, Group Head, Product Innovation, Envestnet

With over 20 years of experience in wealth management and technology, Dani Fava joined Envestnet in 2020, where she leads several innovation tracks including generative AI and embedded finance. In 2022, under her leadership, the firm developed a suite of embedded solutions for financial institutions to retain customers and serve smaller accounts through automation.

A Hispanic woman, single mother and member of the LGBTQ+ community, she acts as an evangelist for diversity and inclusion in financial services. She serves as a mentor and ally to upcoming generations, advises the board of Choir, which promotes diversity and inclusion at corporate conferences, and is on the board of Language and Consulting Worldwide, which helps individuals and organizations succeed across cultures.

Fava serves as a career coach for diverse intern programs at Abacus Wealth Partners, Envestnet and Project Home, and as a judge for the educational nonprofit W!SE and the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation. She speaks frequently at diverse networking groups such as HerSuiteSpot.

Hispanic Empowering Executive of the Year

Lacy Garcia, Founder and CEO, Willow

Lacy Garcia, Founder & CEO, Willow

Lacy Garcia founded Willow in 2019, a wealthtech platform helping advisors acquire and retain investors and grow business among women, Next Gen clients and underrepresented groups. The firm operates certification programs for advisors serving women and Next Gen clients.

With two decades of experience, Garcia served as VP, Head of Marketing & Communications and a Relationship Manager at Deltec Bank, and a VP at Weber Shandwick. She helped launch the Center for Women and Business at Bentley University and the Massachusetts Conference for Women. She was named as an Emerging Leader by The Boston Foundation and mentors for the Tory Burch Foundation.

“I am the daughter of a Cuban refugee, which shaped my money mindset early on and eventually led me to pursue a career in financial services,” said Garcia. “In my mid-30’s, my life changed unexpectedly and I emerged from a challenging time as a divorced, single mother. Like many women, I needed personalized financial guidance to help me make decisions and feel more confident and secure. I founded Willow to help financial services evolve to better serve the needs of Women, NextGen and Underrepresented investors.”

Hispanic Wealthtech Leader of the Year

Rafael Loureiro, Co-Founder and CEO, Wealth.com

Rafael Loureiro, Co-Founder & CEO, Wealth.com

Rafael Loureiro co-founded estate planning services provider Wealth.com two years ago. The firm now serves over 4,000 advisors with partner firms’ AUM totaling more than $200 billion. Prior to Wealth.com, he was CTO at Emailage, a fraud prevention startup which was bought by LexisNexis Risk Solutions, and held various roles at Avanade, Statera and Wells Fargo.

Originally from France and raised in Brazil, Loureiro is a leader in the Phoenix startup community. He has volunteered in various roles at Landmark Education for over 12 years.

When not at work, he spends time with his family, enjoys hiking in the desert, pickleball, video games, reading and the Phoenix Suns.

Hispanic CEO of the Year

Mario Ramos, Partner and CEO, Adviser Investments

Mario Ramos, Partner & CEO, Adviser Investments

Mario Ramos joined Adviser Investments as CEO in 2022, bringing over 20 years’ experience in consumer service brands, scaling business operations and building teams. Prior to Adviser Investments, he was CFO of security screening firm Evolv Technology and CFO and Chief Risk Officer of Edelman Financial Engines.

Prior to that, Ramos served in various roles at CVS, including CFO of its CVS Caremark division, and led the firm’s acquisition of Aetna while Head of Corporate Development and M&A. He spent over 17 years in the investment banking industry at JP Morgan, Lehman Brothers and a subsidiary of The Blackstone Group.

Outside of the office, Ramos is a Board Member of Project GOAL, a nonprofit that inspires academic achievement through soccer; a Northeast Regional Trustee at Boys and Girls Clubs of America; and a Member of the Board of Advisors of the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Hispanic Private Equity Executive of the Year

Danny Rodriguez, Partner, Lee Equity Partners

Danny Rodriguez, Partner, Lee Equity Partners

Danny Rodriguez joined private equity firm Lee Equity Partners in 2009 and is a Partner at the New York-based firm, which targets equity investments in middle-market control buyouts and growth capital financings. The firm invests in industries including financial, business and healthcare services.

Prior to Lee Equity, Rodriguez was an Analyst in the Financial Institutions Group at Morgan Stanley.

He currently serves or previously served on the boards of directors at Affiliated Wealth Partners, Atria Wealth Solutions, K2 Insurance Services, McLarens Global Limited, Pure Financial Advisors, The Edelman Financial Group, Simplicity Group Holdings and Skopos Financial.

Hispanic-Led Organization of the Year

Jeff Concepcion, Founder & CEO, Stratos Wealth Holdings

Stratos Wealth Holdings

Stratos Wealth Holdings consists of the acquisition-focused Stratos Wealth Enterprises, RIA Stratos Wealth Partners, Fundamentum and, most recently, Stratos Private Wealth, which launched in May after the acquisition of BWM Financial. Two of Stratos Wealth Holdings’ six top executives are of Hispanic heritage, including Founder and CEO Jeff Concepcion, and Lou Camacho, President of Stratos Wealth Enterprises.

Lou Camacho, President, Stratos Wealth Enterprises

Camacho was recently recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business as a Notable Latino Leader. In addition, Gil Cotto, Senior Director of Operations for Stratos Wealth Partners, also is of Hispanic heritage.

Since 2022, the firm has been directly involved in Latin America, after it acquired controlling interest of Mexico City-based NSC Asesores, a wealth management and investment firm with $4 billion in client assets.

Hispanic Financial Advisor of the Year

Gil Valadez, Financial Advisor, Prudential Financial

Gil Valadez, Financial Advisor, Prudential Financial

Gil Valadez was referred to Prudential Financial by a friend at age 22. In the role, he discovered a passion for helping clients navigate investment complexities and conduct financial planning, and stayed – now having spent over 37 years there as a Financial Advisor.

The child of Mexican-born parents, Valadez has a passion for financial education and a commitment to the Hispanic community, recognizing the financial challenges of many Hispanic families, including the need to support both children and aging parents.

In August, Forbes recognized Valadez as one of the “Best-In-State” Top Financial Security Professionals, ranked 13th in Arizona.

His financial planning coverage areas include retirement planning, estate planning strategies, education planning, risk management, insurance and investment planning.

Janeesa Hollingshead, Contributing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at editor@wealthsolutionsreport.com.

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