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Jennifer Young, CFA

Chief of Staff

Jennifer Young joined FFT in 2019 and is the Chief of Staff.  Jenn spent the majority of her career at Intech Investment Management, a multi-billion dollar global investment management firm headquartered in West Palm Beach, Florida, where she was Chairman and CEO. Prior to that, Jenn worked primarily in new business development and marketing for Manning & Napier Advisors, HSBC Asset Management Americas, and the former Marine Midland Bank. Jenn brings over 30 years of experience to Optima, and her areas of expertise include new business development, sales and marketing, operations, trading and executive management across broad asset classes in both the global and domestic arena. Jenn holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation, has an MBA in Finance from Clarkson University, and a BA in Economics from St. Lawrence University.

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Peter Ortiz

Chief Operations Officer

Peter Ortiz is Chief Operations Officer of FFT Wealth Management and joined in 2023.  Mr. Ortiz has been working in finance operations since 2001.  Before joining FFT he was Director of Operations and Chief Compliance Officer of THL Capital LLC (2014-2023). Prior to that, Mr. Ortiz was a Senior Manager of Operations at MIO Partners, Inc. (2010‐2014). Proceeding that, Mr. Ortiz served as Chief Operation Officer for Nusa Capital Management, LP (2009‐2010) and Chief Compliance/Financial Officer and Director of Operations at Treesdale Partners, LLC (2004‐2009). Mr. Ortiz holds a BA in Economics from St. John’s University and has held finance operations roles since 2001.

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Ragnar Gearhart

Chief Compliance Officer

Ragnar joined FFT in March 2022 and is Chief Compliance Officer for Optima Asset Management and FFT. Ragnar has over a decade of experience in financial services compliance and was most recently CCO and AML Officer at Boenning & Scattergood Inc.; his past experience also includes a position as a Regulatory Analyst with FINRA. Ragnar has extensive knowledge of compliance and regulatory requirements and his experience encompasses investment banking, brokerage and advisory compliance, operations, audit, complaint settlement and FINRA filings. Ragnar graduated from Hamilton College in 2004 with a BA in Biology.

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Katie Casey, CFA, CAIA

Managing Director, Portfolio Manager

Katie Casey joined FFT Wealth Management in 2023 with more than 20 years of experience in the financial industry.  As Managing Director at FFT, a multi-family office with $23B in assets under advisement, Katie is responsible for portfolio management, risk management and manager due diligence. She engages with ultra-high net worth individuals and families to develop customized investment portfolios based on each client’s unique objectives. She is a senior member of the investment team responsible for manager due diligence and sourcing for alternative investments.

Prior to joining FFT, Katie served in similar roles at Zeke Capital Advisors and Abbot Downing, Wells Fargo’s family office. There she supported the investment needs of ultra-high net worth clients including portfolio management, asset allocation and manager selection.  Prior to that she worked on the endowment fund at the University of Pennsylvania where she supported the CIO. Earlier in her career Katie worked in various institutional investment roles at Turner Investments, Cohen & Company and Citigroup.   She has earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and is a member of the CFA Society Philadelphia.  She is also a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) and a member of the CAIA Association Pennsylvania where she serves as a Chapter Executive.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Loyola University Maryland.

 

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Paul Barkus, CFA

Managing Director

Prior to joining FFT in 2022, Mr. Barkus co-founded and was President of Atlantic Peak Capital, an independent wealth management firm based in New York City focused on individuals, families, and institutional clients.  Similar to FFT, Atlantic Peak Capital employed a wholly open architecture investment approach, evaluating and recommending high conviction investment opportunities uniquely suited to meet the needs and goals of each individual client. Mr. Barkus brings extensive experience and industry knowledge in legacy planning, working with clients to optimize the efficiency of wealth transfer.

Prior to establishing Atlantic Peak Capital Mr. Barkus was a Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Bessemer Trust Company for 19 years where he was responsible for overseeing the investments and wealth planning strategies for many of the firm's largest and most complex relationships.  Mr. Barkus holds a Chartered Financial Analyst and Chartered Investment Counselor designation.

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Teresa Principe, JD

Managing Director

Prior to joining FFT in 2022, Ms. Principe was founder of Atlantic Peak Capital and Senior Vice President and Senior Wealth Advisor at Bessemer Trust Company, where she was responsible for identifying new client relationships, developing asset allocation strategies, risk management, and managing the firm’s relationships with external partners. Ms. Principe worked with families around the world on matters relating to cross-border investments. 

Prior to joining Bessemer, Ms. Principe was a Private Wealth Advisor at Goldman Sachs & Co., where she and her team managed several billion dollars in assets. In addition to directing the investment of capital, Ms. Principe advised on wealth and corporate planning strategies and matters relating to family governance for closely held family businesses. Ms. Principe received an AB in English and a Certificate in Theater and Dance from Princeton University, a JD from The University of Pennsylvania Law School, and a Certificate in Business and Public Policy from The Wharton School. She is a member of the New York and Connecticut State Bar Associations.

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Sean Boner, CFA

Managing Director, Portfolio Management

Sean is a Director of Portfolio Management with the firm. He is responsible for manager due diligence, portfolio management, market research, investment sourcing, and quantitative analysis; carrying out these tasks in close collaboration with the investment team and Co-CIO’s.

Prior to joining FFT, Sean served in a similar role at AM Global Family Investment Office. Previously, Sean worked as a Valuation Analyst for Moore, Ellrich & Neal, PA where he focused on the valuation of privately held businesses, assets and various other securities.

Sean graduated from Florida State University, cum laude, earning a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Real Estate from Florida State University. He is a CFA® Charter Holder.  

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Matthew Vidal, CFP®, CFA

Director, Client Service

Matt Vidal joined FFT in 2022 after spending over 4 years at SCS Financial. As a Director in the Client Service Group, Matt is responsible for preparing and reviewing holistic financial planning analysis while assisting with portfolio management and portfolio construction. He works closely with the Investment Group on the integration and impact of alternative investments in client portfolios. Matt received a B.S. in Economics and Philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross in 2016. He obtained the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification in 2020. Matt has also earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst Designation (CFA) and is a member of the CFA Society of Boston.

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Melissa E. (McBrearty) Ciro, CFP®, CAIA

Managing Director, Private Investments

Melissa has been with the firm since 2009. She participates in manager sourcing and due diligence for all alternative investments, is actively engaged in portfolio analysis and rebalancing, and supports the firm’s proprietary quantitative analysis technology. Prior to joining, she was selected for Ameriprise Financial’s marketing and financial services program.

Melissa graduated cum laude from Saint Joseph’s University, earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Finance, with a minor in Psychology. Melissa obtained the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification in 2014, as well as the CAIA designation in 2016.

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Maria Pia Leon Angell

Director, Client Advisory Services

Pia is the Director, Client Advisory Services of the firm. 

Prior to joining FFT, she served in a similar capacity at AM Global Family Investment Office.  Previously, Pia was a partner at GenSpring Family Offices International. During her seven years with GenSpring, Pia advised families with over $3 billion of assets. Prior to GenSpring, Pia had an 18-year career in banking with Standard Chartered and Citibank. During her banking career, Pia worked across various banking units, including Investment Banking, Corporate Finance, and Private Banking, taking her to live in seven different countries. Pia decided to leave the banking industry to advise wealthy individuals and families more broadly on their financial and non-financial wealth management decisions.

With more than two decades of experience working in the financial industry, Pia strongly believes in helping her clients to understand the relationship between their financial and family decisions and helping them to navigate the opportunities and challenges associated with a life with wealth.

Pia graduated from Universidad del Pacifico (Lima, Peru) earning a Bachelor of Economics and the University of Miami earning a Master of International Politics. She holds a post graduate degree from Bowen Center for the Study of the Family at Georgetown University.

Pia is fluent in Spanish, English and Portuguese. She is also a Board Member of the Miami Music Project.

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Natalia T. Zager, CFP®

Managing Director, Client Service

Natalia has been with the firm since 2013, supporting all aspects of client relationship management, including financial planning, portfolio monitoring and rebalancing, reporting, and routine account servicing. She often coordinates with insurance, legal, and tax advisors on behalf of clients. In addition, she supports the executive team in advancing firm operations. Previously, Natalia spent four years as an Assistant Portfolio Manager at Veritable, LP, where she assisted in the design, implementation, performance reporting, and day-to-day servicing of investment portfolios for ultra-high net worth families and foundations.

Natalia holds a B.S. in Finance from The Pennsylvania State University.  She obtained the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification in 2014.

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Victoria Karasin, CTFA

Director, Client Advisory Services

Victoria is the Director – Advisory Services of the firm. 

Prior to joining FFT, Victoria served in the same role at AM Global Family Investment Office. With more than two decades of experience working in the family office space, she advises families on the sustainability of wealth along generations.  She works with clients across a broad spectrum of wealth management topics, including coordination with their outside advisors to ensure investments are aligned across multifaceted tax and legal structures. Victoria has extensive experience working with family-owned businesses, family offices, wealth creators, and inheritors and brings a thorough understanding of complex investment, tax and estate planning strategies. 

Victoria graduated from Fordham University, cum laude, earning a Bachelor of Science in Economics. Victoria holds the Chartered Trust and Financial Advisor designation, and the FINRA Series 65 securities registration. 

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John S. Tassone, CAIA, JD

Managing Director, Investments

John has over 25 years of experience across multiple disciplines within the investment advisory, family office, and financial services industries. At Forbes, John is senior member of the investment team responsible for manager due diligence and monitoring of both public and private investments, as well as asset allocation, portfolio construction, and risk management for client families.   

During his career, John has held senior roles at various wealth management firms including GenSpring Family Offices, as well as founding an investment advisory firm focused on ultra-high net worth client families. Prior to GenSpring, John was an investment banker at Deutsche Bank in New York, where he helped originate and execute over 25 merger advisory, debt and private equity capital raises and public offerings worth in excess of $12 billion for family offices and institutions.  

John received a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from The Dyson School at Cornell University, his law degree from Albany Law School and an MBA in Accounting from the Union College Graduate School of Management. He is also a Board Member and Treasurer of the Wounded Veterans Relief Fund charitable organization.

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Thomas LaFauci, CFA

Portfolio Manager

Tom is a Portfolio Manager and member of the FFT Investment Team. He is responsible for portfolio management, manager due diligence and sourcing, and market research.

Prior to joining FFT in 2023, Tom was a member of the investment team for over five years serving the Pew Charitable Trusts within Glenmede’s Endowment & Foundation Investments group. In this role, he was responsible for asset allocation, portfolio construction and manager due diligence. Previously, Tom served as a Business Consultant for Eze Software, where he implemented investment management software solutions for asset manager clients.

Tom received a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance & International Business from Villanova University. He is a CFA Charterholder and member of the CFA Society of Philadelphia.

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Elliott Barker

Investment Analyst

Elliott is an Investment Analyst at FFT. Originally an intern in summer of 2019 and the winter of 2020, Elliott rejoined the firm in June 2020 as an Investment Analyst. Among other assignments, Elliott participates in both traditional and non-traditional manager due diligence reviews, provides portfolio and market level research and performs regular risk exposure analyses of portfolios including liquidity, overlap, allocation exposure and capacity analyses. He also supports the FFT-Palm Beach client operations. Elliott graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic University, where he earned a B.S. in International Business.

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Diana Hernandez

Senior Client Operations Associate

Diana is a Senior Client Associate at the firm.

Prior to joining FFT, she served as Operations Manager at AM Global Family Investment Office where she was responsible for the firm’s day-to-day operation functions including account reconciliation, custodial relationship management and client reporting. 

Previously, Diana served as Human Resources Associate for GenSpring Family Offices. In this role she performed human resources functions including facilitation of the annual compensation process, partnering with the internal recruiter to identify candidates, interviewing and facilitating new hires, maintaining personnel files, managing special projects as needed by firm executives, and managing administrative staff. Prior to her role at GenSpring Family Offices, Diana was a Senior Underwriting Administrator for Associated Industries Insurance Services, Inc.

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Felicia Esposito

Director, Client Service

Felicia has over 20 years of financial services and client management expertise. She joined the firm in 2010 and is responsible for managing and servicing client relationships. She has been a primary point of contact for clients. Prior to joining, Felicia was a Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley in Boca Raton, Florida, where she was instrumental in managing high net worth client relationships. Previously, she was a Senior Registered Associate at Perry Financial Group.

Felicia attends Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA and earned an A.A. degree from Centenary College, in Hackettstown, New Jersey.

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Drew Wilde

Senior Client Associate

Drew Wilde joined FFT in 2023 as a Senior Associate in Client Service. Prior to joining FFT, he served as an Associate Wealth Advisor at Lake Street Advisors where he was responsible for the implementation and execution of wealth management strategies focused on estate planning, tax minimization, and cash management. Previously, Drew spent over two years at SCS Financial, where he started as an Associate before moving to a Senior Associate within the wealth management division. In this role, he provides premier family office services for clients. Drew earned his degree from Bridgewater State University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance, with a concentration in Finance.

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Kristina Gallo

Senior Associate, Client Service

Kristina Gallo joined FFT in 2024 as a Senior Associate in Client Service after spending over 4 years at SCS Financial in the Client Service Group. She works closely with multi-generational families, assisting them in achieving their goals by implementing customized investment strategies while incorporating wealth management strategies such as estate, tax, and cash flow planning. Kristina is responsible for providing family office services to clients, ensuring that all their needs are taken care of. Kristina earned her degree from Siena College, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Finance, and has passed Level 1 of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program.

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Jeanne O'Karma

Senior Accountant

Jeanne joined the firm in 2022 and currently serves as a Senior Accountant.  She oversees all accounting functions, provides internal financial reporting and is responsible for benefits administration for all firm employees.  Jeanne facilitates tax preparation for external accountants and contributes to the annual audit.

Jeanne’s experience stems from the retail import/export industry owning and operating four stores over a seventeen-year period which concluded in 2012. She sought a new challenge in the real estate industry, including property leasing, management, and accounting for 5 years and most recently working with Hornick & Associates LLC as a senior bookkeeper handling accounting and payroll functions for numerous individual and small business clients. 

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Lauren Filardo

Business Support Manager

Lauren Filardo joined FFT Wealth Management in 2023 and is the firms Business Support Manager. She provides high-level administrative support to all executives, manages business related projects, event planning and coordination. Lauren also oversees all employee onboarding and offboarding for the firm and helps manage HR related functions.

Lauren graduated from East Carolina University in 2016, with a B.S. in Communications focusing on a concentration in Public Relations. Prior to her time at the firm, Lauren was Business Support Manager and the Executive Assistant to the COO of the Global Information Security department at Bank of America for over 5 years.

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Michael T. McDermott

Senior Operations Associate

Michael McDermott joined the firm in 2017 and currently serves as Senior Operations Associate. Michael provides dedicated operational support to client associates and partners, administers the firm's CRM and portfolio accounting databases, maintains clients’ alternative investment data, assists in the improvement of the firm’s business processes, and prepares reporting packages for our clients.

Michael graduated summa cum laude from Temple University, where he was a Presidential Scholar and a member of the Temple Honors program. He earned a B.A. with distinction in Economics and Spanish, and completed minors in Business and Political Science.

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Jordyn (Wagner) Ballegeer

Client Operations Associate

Jordyn Wagner joined the firm in 2021 as a Client Analyst. Jordyn provides operational support to both the client associates and the operations teams. 

Prior to joining LGL, Jordyn has worked in the financial services industry since 2015 at both American Century Investments and then Rassler Financial LLC. She holds the Pennsylvania Life, Accident and Health insurance license as well as a Series 7 and 63.

Jordyn graduated with a Master of Business Administration from MidAmerica Nazarene University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with dual majors in Finance and Marketing from Kansas State University.

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Shyanne Lovan

Client Operations Associate

Prior to joining FFT, Shyanne was a Senior Associate at SS&C where she served as a dedicated resource to Lighthouse Investment Partners.  As a part of the multi-dimensional Lighthouse Operations team, Shyanne was responsible for providing operational support for a basket of managed accounts and worked in close liaison with portfolio managers, the fund administrator, and counterparties.

Shyanne graduated from Rollins College, magna cum laude, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Economics with a minor in Business Management.

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Alexandra Baldwin

Client Operations Associate

Alexandra joined the firm as a Client Analyst at the start of 2023. She assists the client associate and operations teams in handling client related reporting, special projects, and inquiries. Additionally, she is responsible for preparing investment documents and reconciling client information. 

 

Alexandra graduated summa cum laude from Union College, earning a Bachelor of Arts with honors in both English and Political Science and completing a minor in Women’s Studies. Following graduation, Alexandra was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in Athens, Greece, where she taught English to high school students and served as a cultural ambassador. 

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