Meet the 2023 Excellence in Exit Planning Award Nominees

This year Exit Planning Institute is celebrating the eleventh anniversary of the Excellence in Exit Planning Awards. Over the course of the past 11 years, we have awarded 33 professional advisors in three categories: Member of the Year, Leader of the Year, and Peter Christman Exit Planner of the Year.

This year, we have nine outstanding advisors who have been nominated by their peers for these prestigious awards. Learn more about each of our nominees below.

Peter Christman Exit Planner of the Year Award

The Exit Planner of the Year Award was named after the co-founder of EPI, Peter Christman, and is the highest honor offered in the exit planning industry. It is awarded to a CEPA who practices exit planning, manages exit planning engagements, or educates business owners and advisors. 

Julie Keyes, CEPA since 2015

Julie Keyes is the founder and owner of KeyeStrategies, LLC, and has been an entrepreneur for the majority of her life. She is the President Emeritus of the Exit Planning Institute Twin Cities Metro Area Chapter (2016-2020) and a faculty member for the CEPA Program. 

We asked Julie what aspects of exit planning interest her the most. She shared, “I love being an advocate and guide for business owners, so they can achieve their best possible outcome, as well as find a new purpose for their lives. My own exit many years ago wasn’t the best, mostly because my ‘advisors’ lacked the expertise. It could have been a much better, more lucrative experience had I known then what I know now. So, my mission is to coordinate the best outcomes possible for the clients I work with and do whatever I can to perpetuate excellence in exit planning among my peers by speaking and writing on the subject.” 

Additionally, Julie is a published author and a successful podcast host of Poised for Exit. Her speaking engagements bring her across the country delivering her exit planning expertise to owner and advisor groups alike.

Mark Kravietz, CEPA since 2013

Mark Kravietz is the Managing Partner and Founder of ALINE WEALTH. He brings to ALINE a consummate investment acumen, which he utilizes to address the full range of clients’ challenges. His knowledge of financial, investment, and exit planning has helped clients through difficult economic and market cycles, and a decidedly human approach to business supplements this expertise.

We asked Mark to describe the key characteristics that make a successful exit planning advisor. He shared, “Curiosity, empathy, and knowledge. I believe you need to have an innate need for curiosity. Curiosity about how the business owner achieved their success and the family dynamics. Learning about their goals and what they are looking to achieve. You must have empathy in knowing that their life’s work will be monetized and that life will be changing dramatically for them. You need to have the knowledge to be able to help the business owner achieve their goals.”

A trailblazer in exit planning, he is a founding member and President of the New York Chapter of the Exit Planning Institute (EPI) and was the EPI’s 2016 Leader of the Year. Mark has expanded his pursuits to include hosting a podcast, Find Your Exit, about how to successfully exit your business and hosting a YouTube show, Coffee with Krav, where he virtually interviews various experts and professionals.

Joe Strazzeri, CEPA since 2016

Joe Strazzeri is a Counselor and Attorney for successful families and business owners, an educator for wealth advisors, a speaker, and an author. As a former general contractor, land developer, and business owner, Joe combines these skills with more than 20 years of experience as an attorney to counsel families and business owners.

We asked Joe about what professional accomplishments he was most proud of this year. He shared, “We were able to scale our family of companies while helping other advisors and owners do the same in their businesses. Through our EPI Chapters, we were able to reenergize our live programs and collaborate with advisors in our region. Hearing stories from attendees of our events and how they benefitted from the lessons learned, has been a great accomplishment this year.”

Through 4 unique brands and with his partners, Joe educates wealth advisors, assists business owners to find “what’s next,” counsels families towards alignment, and protects families and their assets.

Thought Leader of the Year

The Thought Leader of the Year Award is presented to a CEPA who has successfully trailblazed a first-of-its-kind project, initiative, or practice that has significantly contributed to the exit planning profession and the overall community. 

Brett Dearing, CEPA since 2016

brett dearing bny mellon

Brett Dearing is a Partner and Exit Planning Specialist in the New York office with almost thirty years of experience working with privately-held businesses and business owners. His specialization is preparing a business and business owner for transactions while maximizing enterprise value. 

We asked Brett how he helps educate advisors on exit planning topics. He shared, “I do a lot of webinars and speaking engagements for new advisors. I help them to understand what type of CEPA they want to be in the marketplace. With a diversity of advisors on an owner’s team, I help CEPAs figure out what they bring to the table in terms of expertise and experience, but also personality.”

Brett also assists business owners in working through the complexities of transitioning a family business and structuring comprehensive succession plans and growth planning. 

Mark Dorman, CEPA since 2020

Mark Dorman has a reputation for excellence in business succession and exit planning, corporate retirement plans, non-qualified deferred compensation plans, executive benefits, 401(k) strategies, financial planning, and business value maximization.

With more than 30 years of experience, he is an industry thought leader and influencer, a popular speaker, the author of numerous e-books, and the host of his own podcast called Finish Big: How Great Entrepreneurs Exit Their Companies on Top. 

We asked Mark what it means to be a leader. He shared, “A leader is someone who is wired to help others. A great leader puts the interest of the group above their own interest. They serve their clients and push their teams to improve.”

He founded Legacy Advisors Network (LAN), is the managing partner of The Alternative Board™ (TAB) Western Reserve chapter, is a member of the Forbes Business Council, and is passionate about connecting people and mentoring young professionals.

James Jack, CEPA since 2018

James Jack is the Head of the Business Owner Client Segment within the Strategic Client Segments team, taking the role at its creation in 2018. He has been with UBS since 2006 where he has worked in the WMA Banking Group to build banking, cash, and lending solutions that meet the needs of High Net Worth and Ultra High Net Worth individuals, and the Financial Advisors that support them. 

We asked James about some of the characteristics that make a good exit planning advisor. He explained, “Tenacity is critical, know your strengths, and think above and beyond the transaction. For UBS Financial Advisors, we hope there is a long-term relationship at the end of the exit planning. How can we be helpful to the business owner and their family, support their goals and the people and causes they care about.”

James has driven and executed strategies to expand securities-based lending, develop a proprietary credit card tailored to UBS’s unique client base, and from 2016-2018, helped to manage UBS’s more than $60 billion deposit platform. As the Head of the Business Owner Segment, James focuses on assisting Financial Advisors in bringing the resources and capabilities of UBS to bear in order to provide comprehensive services and advice to business owners.

Member of the Year

The Member of the Year Award is presented to a CEPA who contributes significantly to the EPI community of advisors and the overall exit planning profession. 

Jesse Abercrombie, CEPA since 2016

As an Edward Jones financial advisor, Jesse Abercrombie believes it is important to invest his time to understand what his clients are working toward before they invest their money. Helping business owners with business succession planning is a very important aspect of his business. Jesse began his Edward Jones career in 2003 and has since become a partner with the firm.  

We asked Jesse for his recommendations for getting involved in the EPI community. He shared, “I recommend joining a chapter. Focus on how you can help the client and do it with passion and you will help raise the bar for the exit planning community. Make it a goal to leave the CEPA community better than you found it! Growth of impact ignites my purpose to partner for positive impact to influence the lives of our clients, and colleagues, and better our communities and society.”

Charles Jarrett, CEPA since 2019

Charles Jarrett works closely with business owners, corporate executives, and multi-generational families, helping them address complex wealth-management needs and life transitions to pursue what is most important to them, personally and professionally. A veteran Private Wealth Advisor, he offers refined problem-solving skills, an intimate knowledge of best practices, and decades of practical experience.

We asked Charles how he shares his exit planning expertise with owners and advisors. He explained, “My goal is to continually build my brand and be known as the ‘go-to expert’ on business owner transition planning in your community. I do this by growing my advisor network, sharing educational emails to advisors, connecting with advisors and owners on LinkedIn and sharing regular posts, and hosting events for advisors with the EPI Chapter Network.”  

Charles also works extensively with senior executives, helping them manage concentrated or restricted stock positions while uncovering possible efficiencies across their balance sheets. He believes that communicating and coordinating strategies with a client’s other advisors fosters better outcomes.

Joe Seetoo, CEPA since 2018

Joe Seetoo

Joe Seetoo has been a trusted advisor to business owners and high-net-worth families for over 21 years. He provides financial planning and wealth management services to help them “Get the Most Life Out of Their Wealth”. Joe is a Chartered Financial Analyst, a member of the CFA Institute, and the Los Angeles Society of Financial Analysts. Joe currently serves as President of the Conejo Valley Chapter of the Exit Planning Institute.

We asked Joe how he stays involved in the EPI community. He shared, “Between being President of EPI Conejo Valley Chapter, my podcast called The Ripcord Moment, and our company offering called The Strategist which is geared towards exit planning for business owners, I feel lucky to have the support of my partners, my company and teammates to have a platform to share our mission to empower business owners to hit their perfect landing upon exit.  

Prior to joining Morton Wealth in August 2007, he served as the Director of Investment Research for Georgina Asset Management, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor located in Santa Monica, CA from September 2003 until July 2007 and as the Director of Operations from May 2000 until September 2003. Joe started his investment career with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., Inc. in 1998.

Excellence in Exit Planning Award Ceremony

We will announce the Excellence in Exit Planning Award winners at our 2023 Exit Planning Summit on Monday, May 22, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Exit Planning Summit is the coming together of the CEPA Community. The best CEPAs from around the world collaborate with their supporting partners and colleagues that are all helping business owners to create more significant companies. CEPAs will develop new or further current relationships, learn best practices, and advance themselves as advisors. Advisors will leave the Exit Planning Summit not only galvanized to accelerate their practice but with the tools and connections to do so.

Learn more about the Exit Planning Summit and register to reserve your spot today!

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