Experience Makes all the difference

Our team’s experience, integrity, family office services and proven process have helped us cultivate trusted, long-standing relationships with clients. For over 19 years, we have helped families grow their assets, mitigate the impact of taxes, manage liabilities, and create estate planning strategies that preserve generational wealth.

Keith J. Apton, CEPA®

Managing Director - Wealth Management
Financial Advisor
Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA®)
202-585-5358

email   Connect with me on LinkedIn



Keith has over 19 years of experience in the financial services industry, with an extensive background in corporate finance. As the founding partner of The Capital ESOP Group at UBS, Keith heads the team’s private wealth practice, in which he works to determine client needs and match them with the proper resources of UBS, a leading global bank. Keith focuses on solutions encompassing asset allocation, wealth and liability management, and tax and estate planning in order to create tailored financial plans for his clients. Prior to joining UBS in 2009, Keith was a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley, where he was an integral member of the team handling all of the firm’s ESOP transactions. Keith’s process entails a disciplined approach to help small- to middle-market business owners with sell-side advisory solutions and post-sale financial planning to include holistic wealth management and tax and estate planning strategies. Keith is an author and nationally recognized leader on ESOPs and Internal Revenue Code §1042 rollovers.


In 2014, Keith was given the prestigious opportunity to sit on the UBS Capital Markets Advisory Committee. More recently, he became a Managing Director and member of the UBS Pinnacle Council, which consists of the top 2% of advisors nationally at UBS. As an active member in the ESOP community, Keith’s total participation in ESOP transactions has exceeded $2.5 billion in transaction value across various sectors and industries.


Keith is a member of both the National Center for Employee Ownership and the finance committee for The ESOP Association. He coauthored the book Selling Your Business to an ESOP, now in its ninth edition. After becoming a Certified Exit Planning Advisor® (CEPA®) in 2018, he was asked to teach and became an instructor for the Exit Planning Institute. Additionally, Keith frequently speaks at national conferences on topics including ESOPs, §1042 rollovers and business succession planning.


Keith’s other accomplishments include:

  • Forbes Best-In-State Wealth Advisors in Washington, DC, 2018 – 2021 (Ranked #2 in Washington, DC in 2020 and 2021)
  • Barron’s Top 1,200 Financial Advisors, 2014 – 2021 (Ranked #4 in Washington, DC in 2021)
  • UBS Pinnacle Advisor, 2018 – 2021
  • Washington, DC’s Best Financial Advisers, as seen in Washingtonian magazine, 2016 – 2020
  • The Financial Times Top 400 Financial Advisers, 2016 – 2018
  • On Wall Street Top 40 Under 40 Advisors, 2016, 2017
  • REP. magazine Top 40 Wirehouse Advisors Under 40, 2014, 2015


Keith previously sat on the board of Patriot Farmers of America, a nonprofit teaching entrepreneurship and sustainability to veterans who are seeking a future in farming. Outside the office, he enjoys traveling, fly-fishing, reading and spending time at his family farm in Virginia. More than anything, he simply loves being a dad. Keith lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Kathryn, and their daughters, Lyla and Sutton.


Registered States:
AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MT, NC, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV, WY


Nick J. Francia, CEPA®

Managing Director - Wealth Management
Financial Advisor
Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA®)
202-585-5354

email   Connect with me on LinkedIn



Nick joined UBS in 2011. Prior to his tenure at UBS, he worked with high net worth individuals at a hedge fund in Greenwich, CT. As a partner of The Capital ESOP Group, Nick focuses on educating business owners on tax-efficient exit strategies. He is committed to helping clients recognize their options, understand the pros and cons of each strategy and choose the best succession plan for themselves and their families. Nick also creates tailored cash flow models comparing the taxable sale of privately held businesses and a tax-deferred sale to an ESOP under §1042 of the Internal Revenue Code.


With a consultative approach, Nick earns his clients’ trust through open, transparent communication and by working with clients’ tax and legal advisors to construct an overarching strategy.


In 2021, Nick was promoted to Managing Director – Wealth Management. He is frequently asked to speak on a national level regarding employee stock ownership plans and §1042 rollovers. He is an associate member of the finance committee for the ESOP Association and a member of the National Center for Employee Ownership. Nick was also appointed Vice President of Business Networking International in DC.

Nick’s other accomplishments include:

  • Financial Planning Top 40 Advisors Under 40, 2021
  • Barron’s Top 1,200 Financial Advisors, 2021 (Ranked #13 in Washington, DC)
  • Forbes/SHOOK Best-In-State Wealth Advisors, 2020, 2021
  • Forbes Next-Gen Best-In-State Wealth Advisors, 2019 (Ranked #1 in Washington, DC)
  • Forbes Top 250 Next-Generation Wealth Advisors, 2019
  • UBS President’s Council Advisor, 2019
  • Forbes America’s Top Next-Generation Wealth Advisors, 2018
  • UBS Top 35 Under 35 Advisors, 2018


In January 2021, Nick, his wife Mary Elizabeth and their son Sebastian (“Baz”) welcomed the newest member of their family: Ramsey Jay (“RJ”) Francia. Outside of the office, Nick enjoys spending time with his family, reading, fly-fishing and traveling with his wife.


Registered States:
AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV, WY


Robert H. Allred, CFP® CPWA®

Managing Director - Wealth Management
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
Wealth Advisor
202-585-5425

email   Connect with me on LinkedIn



With a focus on post-ESOP financial planning, Rob Allred has significant experience in creating customized financial plans that take into consideration the specific needs of business owners who have sold their stock to an ESOP. Rob incorporates the amortization of the seller note, the interest paid on the seller note and any nonqualified deferred compensation into his financial planning decisions. He also focuses on developing personal relationships with clients so he can successfully implement tailored asset management strategies, insurance, tax and estate planning solutions.

Over his more than 20-year career at UBS, Rob has joined the elite group of UBS Financial Advisors who have earned the designation of Wealth Advisor. He also holds the Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFP®) professional designation.

Rob graduated from Randolph-Macon College with a degree in business and economics. Rob lives in Vienna, VA with his wife, Molly, and their three children, Lilly, Annie and Robert Jr.


Registered States:
AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV


Sean P. Howe, CFP®, CDFA™

Senior Vice President - Wealth Management
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®)
Portfolio Manager
Wealth Advisor
703-734-8407

email   Connect with me on LinkedIn



Sean has nearly 15 years of wealth management experience, having navigated clients through bull and bear markets. His expertise is concentrated in serving the unique needs of business owners who have sold their businesses and require specialized guidance to manage the complexities within a succession plan. His belief is that every client relationship must begin with a comprehensive financial plan to ensure the long-term financial security of the client’s goals. We seamlessly integrate the investment management recommendations with the client’s customized financial plan, which includes implementing wealth preservation strategies to protect a business owner’s hard-earned assets as well as wealth transfer planning to ensure assets are passed to the next generation in a tax-efficient manner. In addition, Sean understands that maximizing an individual’s net worth requires oversight of not just their assets, but both sides of the balance sheet, employing liability and liquidity solutions to manage any interest rate environment.

With a mother and father who were both in education, Sean has a passion for educating his clients and continuing to learn. He received his B.S. in accounting from Catholic University and went on to obtain both the Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFP®) designation from Georgetown University and the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® through the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts.

Sean is actively involved in many community and philanthropic organizations. He serves on the Board of Directors for a local Fairfax County-based nonprofit, FACETS, is a mentor to local students through Capital Partners for Education and is a regular financial contributor for Second Saturday®, a community-founded divorce workshop focused on helping women navigate the legal, emotional and financial aspects of divorce.

Sean is originally from the Hudson Valley in New York and enjoys an active lifestyle including CrossFit, golf, hiking and spending time with his beloved family. He and his wife, Alisha, live in McLean, VA with their son, Hudson, and daughter, Kaia.


Registered States:
AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, ID, MA, MD, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV


Joanne Pronk

Senior Wealth Strategy Associate
202-585-5331

email   Connect with me on LinkedIn



Joanne serves as the team’s primary investment consultant, leveraging her knowledge across asset classes and investment vehicles to provide clients with customized portfolio solutions to meet their cash-flow needs, planning goals and risk tolerance. She examines top-down economic research and performs in-depth investment manager due diligence to help shape the team’s view on portfolio construction and implementation. 


Prior to joining The Capital ESOP Group, Joanne worked with an independent investment advisory firm. She had previously worked as a financial analyst in the private wealth management division at Goldman Sachs. Her experience in the financial services industry has been focused exclusively on helping high net worth individuals and families navigate their financial lives.


Joanne graduated summa cum laude from The George Washington University with a B.B.A., in finance and international business. Outside of the office, she enjoys traveling, spending time on the water, and taking weekend trips to the nearby Shenandoah Valley.


Registered States:
AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, MI, MN, MT, NC, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WY


Susan Ghanem, CFP®

Financial Advisor
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
703-734-8482

email   Connect with me on LinkedIn



"Each person is born with the ability to achieve greatness." When asked what is one thing she knows for sure, this is Susan Ghanem's response. Since childhood, Susan has loved meeting people, learning their stories and shining a light on their lives. From having a first job waiting tables at her family's Italian restaurant to today, where she leads the financial planning practice of Howe Wealth Management, Susan has found fulfillment in speaking with individuals to learn who they are, what matters to them, and how she can help them achieve their financial goals through comprehensive planning.

Prior to joining UBS, Susan was an Operations Associate at Brightwood Capital Advisors, a private debt fund in New York City, where she managed a portfolio targeted at middle market debt and equity products. She also spent time at KPMG where she worked on the Mortgage and Commercial Lending team, focusing on CMBS transactions.

Susan earned her BBA in Finance at James Madison University and went on to attain the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation and Accredited Wealth Manager designation.

Susan is a native of South Central Virginia. While she currently resides in Arlington, VA, you can often find her travelling to find a new adventure, enjoying the latest workout trend / yoga class or driving along the east coast to spend time with her family and friends. 


Registered States:
AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, ID, MA, MD, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV


Gerardo "Jerry" Castro

Market Head

email   Connect with me on LinkedIn



Jerry Castro’s 25 years of industry experience, both as a Financial Advisor and manager, provide him with a unique insight in bringing together all of the firm’s high-end resources and capabilities. This experience helps The Capital ESOP Group provide the highest level of service and value in assisting their clients to plan and achieve their investment objectives and financial goals. Prior to joining UBS in 2009, Jerry was the Executive Director of the Washington, D.C. market at Morgan Stanley for 12 years. Mr. Castro served as a co-chair of the UBS Branch Manager Advisory Council and holds a B.A. from Shippensburg University. He and his wife, Catherine, live in Annapolis, MD and are the proud parents of eight wonderful children.


Registered States:
DC, MA, MD, VA


Sharlene Samuel

Market Supervisory Officer
202-585-4036

email   Connect with me on LinkedIn



Beginning her career nearly 30 years ago on the foreign currency options trading desk of a Wall Street investment banking firm, Sharlene Samuel now leads a team of supervisory officers who ensure that all industry and firm policy changes are clearly communicated and implemented. She and her team focus on proactive risk management and supervision of the UBS Washington, D.C. market. Sharlene graduated from Pace University with a bachelor‘s degree in international management with a minor in french. She is an avid potter who spends much of her spare time creating wheel-thrown functional pots for daily use.


Registered States:
AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY


Steve Brinckhaus

Senior Client Service Associate
202-585-5368

email



In successfully managing all service needs for clients of The Capital ESOP Group, Steve Brinckhaus leverages the vast experience he’s gained over his nearly 15-year financial services career. He also helps to keep the team operating in an organized and efficient manner.

Steve holds a B.A from the University of Mary Washington. He resides in Severna Park, MD and enjoys traveling with his wife and kids, playing sports and rooting for the Washington Redskins.


Registered States:
CA, DC, MD, NJ, NY, TN, VA


Brandon Park, CFP®, CPWA®, CIMA®

Senior Vice President - Wealth Management
Wealth Advisor
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA®)
202-585-5328

email   Connect with me on LinkedIn



In serving the unique needs of business owners who have sold their businesses and require specialized guidance to manage the complexities within a succession plan, Brandon Park leverages his more than 10 years of wealth management experience through bull and bear markets. He believes that every client engagement must begin with a comprehensive financial plan to ensure the long-term financial security of the client’s goals. In addition, Brandon understands that maximizing an individual’s net worth requires oversight of both assets and liabilities, which is why he and his team employ liability and liquidity solutions to help manage any interest rate environment. By integrating investment management recommendations and wealth preservation strategies, Brandon and his team help business owners protect their hard-earned assets and plan to ensure that those assets are passed to the next generation in a tax-efficient manner.

Brandon’s commitment to providing his clients with the best financial solutions has driven him to earn the Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFP®), professional, Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM (CRPC®) and Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®) designations. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland and completed his CIMA® coursework through The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Brandon is a published author on topics dealing with financial planning and investment matters. He has also been a speaker for the American Bar Association and Certified Public Accountants.

Brandon currently supports the Wounded Warrior Project and previously served on the boards of Maggie’s Light Foundation and Global Access Foundation. He, his wife and two daughters reside in Maryland.


Registered States:
CA, DC, DE, FL, HI, IN, MD, NC, NJ, NV, NY, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WA


Sarah Bothner, CEPA®

Senior Wealth Strategy Associate
Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA®)
202-942-2836

email   Connect with me on LinkedIn



Sarah is responsible for managing the team’s tailored cash flow modeling function. Through detailed analyses, she helps business owners compare the taxable sale of privately held businesses with §1042 tax-deferred sales to employee stock ownership plans. She also leads the team’s marketing campaigns and creates original content regarding ESOPs. Prior to officially joining The Capital ESOP Group, Sarah worked at UBS and gained experience in both the wealth management and business solutions fields.


Sarah graduated with a B.S.B.A. from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, where she majored in operations and information management and finance. She is originally from Rochester, NY. Outside the office, she enjoys reading, playing golf and attending concerts in the DC area.


Registered States:
DC, MD, VA, WA


Samuel Ayomide Sosanya

Client Service Associate
202-585-5302

email   Connect with me on LinkedIn



As a Client Service Associate, Samuel works diligently to provide exceptional service to each client of The Capital ESOP Group by maintaining operational efficiency and administrative excellence. Prior to joining The Capital ESOP Group, Samuel worked as a universal branch associate at Capital One Bank, after completing an internship at Morgan Stanley’s Prime Brokerage Division in New York City. Samuel resides in Largo, MD, and he enjoys reading, boxing, volunteering at his church and cheering for all sport teams in Boston.


Breton Laubscher

Client Service Associate
202-585-5339

email   Connect with me on LinkedIn




Registered States:
AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MN, NC, NJ, NM, NV, NY, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WA, WI


Jake William Pantalone

Client Service Associate
202-585-5392

email