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 more than 18 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

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As the founding partner of The Capital ESOP Group at UBS, Keith offers small- to middle-market business owners nearly 20 years of industry experience and an extensive background in corporate finance. Keith leverages the vast resources and intellectual capital of the world’s largest wealth management firm to assist his clients and their families with sell-side advisory solutions and post-sale financial planning, to include holistic wealth management, tax and estate planning.

Keith is active within the ESOP community, having helped his clients create more than $2.5 billion in value across various sectors and industries. He sits on the finance committee for The ESOP Association and is a member of the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO), Employee-Owned S Corporations of America (ESCA) and the Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors® (AMAA®). Keith coauthored the book Selling Your Business to an ESOP, now in its ninth edition. In 2014, Keith was given the prestigious opportunity to sit on the UBS Capital Markets Advisory Committee. Prior to joining UBS in 2009, Keith was an integral member of the team that handled all of Morgan Stanley’s ESOP transactions.

Keith’s other accomplishments include:

  • Forbes SHOOK Best-in-State Wealth Advisors, 2018 (Ranked #3 in Washington, DC)
  • Barron’s Top Financial Advisors, 2012 – 2017
  • The Financial Times Top 400 Financial Advisers, 2016 – 2018
  • Washingtonian magazine Top Financial Advisers, 2016 – 2018
  • On Wall Street Top 40 Under 40 Advisor, 2017 – 2018
  • REP. magazine Top 40 Wirehouse Advisors Under 40, 2014 – 2015

Keith sits on the board of Patriot Farmers of America, a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and sustainability to veterans who are seeking a future in farming. Keith graduated from Virginia Tech, where he earned a B.S. in business administration from the Pamplin College of Business. Outside the office, he enjoys traveling, reading and spending time at his farm in Berryville, VA. Keith lives in Washington, D.C. 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

Senior Vice President - Wealth Management
Financial Advisor
Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA®)
202-585-5354

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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 Section 1042 tax-deferred sale to an ESOP.

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 2019, Nick was promoted to Senior Vice President–Wealth Management. He is frequently asked to speak on a national level regarding Employee Stock Ownership Plans and IRC Section 1042. 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:

  • Forbes Best-In-State Next-Gen 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

Nick graduated from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. He was a dedicated member of the university’s baseball team and continues to be an active member of his alma mater’s alumni association.

Outside of the office, Nick enjoys spending time with family, reading, fly-fishing and traveling with his wife, Mary Elizabeth. In June of 2019, Nick and Mary Elizabeth welcomed the newest member of their family: their son Sebastian “Baz” Calloway Francia.


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

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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

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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, 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

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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. Apart from her role on the wealth management side, Joanne is also intricately involved with the ESOP arm of the business. On that front, she assists with qualified replacement property implementation and cash flow analysis.


Prior to joining UBS in 2018, Joanne spent two years as a financial analyst in the private wealth management division of Goldman Sachs, followed by one year at an independent investment advisory firm. 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 in 2015 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, KY, MA, MD, MI, MN, MT, NC, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WY


Jennifer W. Keller-Smith, CFP®

Financial Advisor
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
Visit my personal page
202-585-5469

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Understanding that every individual has their own “why,” Jenny starts with identifying yours. She has extensive experience translating the needs and wishes of business owners into financial plans that preserve, protect and enhance their hard-earned wealth. As a second-generation Certified Financial PlannerTM, Jenny’s driving force is helping families articulate their financial needs and then executing a plan that goes beyond these needs.


Jenny is a Financial Advisor with over 10 years of industry experience. Prior to joining The Capital ESOP Group, she was part of a team of three, where she led the financial planning efforts and modeled optimized portfolio allocations. Her career with UBS started on the Wealth Planning Team in Washington, DC, where she drove financial planning integration with advisors’ wealthiest clients by building custom financial plans. She advised clients on various wealth management strategies, including cash flow and retirement planning, insurance and saving for education. Prior to UBS, Jenny was an investment management associate at a boutique registered investment advisor in Potomac, MD.


Jenny is involved with the CFP Board WIN-to-WIN mentor program, which provides advice and guidance to prospective female CFP® professionals. Through this program, she helps ensure that women interested in financial planning receive a network of professional, like-minded women. Jenny is a Maryland native and proud University of Maryland Terrapin, having earned her bachelor of arts degree from UMD College Park. She resides in Bethesda, MD with her husband, Garrett. They welcomed their first born, Ronin, in July 2019. Jenny grew up horseback riding and still enjoys the occasional trail ride with her family north of Baltimore, MD.


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


Susan Ghanem, CFP®

Financial Advisor
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
703-734-8482

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"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, FL, ID, MA, MD, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV


Gerardo "Jerry" Castro

Market Head

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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

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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

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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

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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, CT, DC, DE, FL, HI, ID, KY, MA, MD, NC, NJ, NV, NY, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA


Sarah Bothner

Wealth Strategy Associate
202-942-2836

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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 in 2019, 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 double majored in finance and operations & information management. In her free time, she enjoys playing golf, reading, and going to concerts in the DC area.


Registered States:
DC, MD, VA, WA


Samuel Ayomide Sosanya

Client Service Associate
202-585-5302

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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 spent two years 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.