Meet the 2023 Excellence in Exit Planning Award Winners

On Monday, May 22, 2023, The Exit Planning Institute honored three incredible Certified Exit Planning Advisors (CEPAs) during the eleventh annual Excellence in Exit Planning Awards. During the award ceremony in the beautiful ballroom of The Phoenician Resort Christopher Snider, Scott Snider, and Title Partner Scott Mashuda of REAG, presented the three awards. We had nine phenomenal nominees for the Member of the Year, Thought Leader of the Year, and Peter Christman Exit Planner of the Year. Join us in congratulating our winners, Joe Seetoo, James Jack, and Joe Strazzeri! IMG-7334

Learn more about each of these phenomenal CEPAs. We interviewed the winners about their practices, the benefits of being a CEPA, and what this award means to them. Read the interviews below! 

Member of the Year: Joe Seetoo

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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. They act as a key leader and expert in their local or regional marketplace and lead exit planning education while driving market awareness.

How does it feel to win an Excellence in Exit Planning Award? 

I’m incredibly humbled. EPI has done a great job of collecting top-tier advisors from across the United States and from various industries. It was truly an honor to be simply nominated. I’m grateful to have received this prestigious award. Thank you!  

What would you suggest to CEPAs looking to be more involved in the CEPA community? 

Jump in feet first. Find a local chapter to get involved with and figure out how to add value beyond just going to meetings. This might mean volunteering at local chapter events, speaking at an event, inviting your business owner clients and friends, or some other way to become involved. Alternatively, there are so many podcasts or other opportunities to speak at a local chamber of commerce meeting, business events, industry events, etc. You just have to be willing to put yourself out there.  

How has your practice changed since you earned the CEPA credential?

It has definitely become much more focused on working with business owners whether it is before the liquidity event or in some cases concurrently while they are existing or even after. I’m still receiving many referrals for traditional high-net-worth clients and I’m able to partner with some amazing advisors at my firm to give them opportunities to flourish and grow their careers.

Of your professional accomplishments from this past year, which are you most proud of?

I’ve been able to shift my clientele to work with my top 50 clients and become even more focused on higher-impact projects that benefit my clients, my company, my team, and myself. Moving our chapter to in-person and a fee-paying model was huge and took a lot of work on the part of my EC and myself. Lastly, launching Season 2 and Season 3 of The Ripcord Moment podcast and adding YouTube Videos was big for us.  

Thought Leader of the Year: James Jack


The Leader of the Year Award is presented to a CEPA who has successfully trailblazed a first-of-its-kind project, initiative, or practice which has made a significant contribution to the exit planning profession and the overall community. This advisor is also a thought leader; someone who has taken a position and become a regarded expert/specialist in a specific niche area, a person who tasks, innovates, and influences, and above all, showcases characteristics of collaboration. 

How does it feel to win an Excellence in Exit Planning Award? 

What an absolute honor, simply enough. It’s humbling to be recognized. I consider myself extremely lucky that I was given the opportunity to start and build the Business Owners Client Segment at UBS and I see this recognition not so much about me, but more about what we collectively have done at UBS and in partnership with EPI. We’ve educated hundreds of UBS financial advisors, who in turn have helped educate business owners and other advisors in the ecosystem. We’ve grown our culture at UBS where business owner exit planning is much more a part of what we do across the board. All of that work helped us be of great service to business owners during the pandemic and that made a big impact.

When I first met Chris Snider, he signed my copy of Walking to Destiny and told me that he was hopeful that, in working with UBS, we can all collectively help “change the outcome” for business owners. I think this award is a recognition that we’re showing success.

How do you share your exit planning expertise with the advisor community as a whole? 

For UBS, I write or produce video content that our financial advisors can use to share with business owners or the other advisors on their extended team. I’m fortunate enough to have worked with a lot of UBS financial advisors over my nearly 18 years at UBS and that has given me a platform to help get the message out.

On LinkedIn, I like to say that I am an “evangelist” for business owners and the financial advisors that support them. I try to connect with advisors and business owners as much as possible across a variety of channels, but if I can do it in person or one on one, that’s where I think things can get special.

How would you define a leader?

Firstly, it’s important to recognize that leading and managing are very different things, and oftentimes, people conflate them. 

I subscribe to a few things when I think of leadership. One is from Kouzes & Posner’s 5 Practices of Exemplary Leadership. It states that leaders do five things: 

  1. Model the Way
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision
  3. Challenge the Process
  4. Enable Others to Act
  5. Encourage the Heart

Also resonating with me are two of the ideas from UBS’s Leading the Future Program, which was a leadership course that I truly believed changed my way of thinking and helped me to become a better leader:

  1. Leadership occurs in conversation; and
  2. Leaders speak respectfully about the past, realistically about the present, and optimistically about the future

In building out UBS’s Business Owners Client Segment these last few years, I’ve tried to keep those concepts front and center as I work with my direct and indirect teams.

How has your practice changed since you earned the CEPA credential?

When I received my CEPA, I was new to the world of exit planning. I was learning new things while juggling the creation and build-out of UBS’s Business Owners Client Segment. Since then, we’ve created an organization that I am incredibly proud to lead with several hundred CEPAs at UBS. We deliver the best resources of UBS and the partners that we work closely with each and every day. During the pandemic, we were positioned in a way that UBS and our financial advisor teams could be of great service to business owners and help them through the crisis. We helped them understand the various programs and complex rules surrounding their business and exiting the market. More recently, we’ve been able to put more attention back to helping business owners monetize their life’s work or work on family business succession to help the next generation lead the business.

Peter Christman Exit Planner of the Year: Joe Strazzeri


Named after the co-founder of EPI, the Peter Christman Exit Planner of the Year Award is the highest honor offered in the exit planning industry. It is awarded to a CEPA who either practices exit planning, manages exit planning engagements, educates business owners and advisors, or provides industry-changing exit planning solutions or tools that can be directly tied to changing outcomes for business owners and leading advisors. This advisor makes significant contributions to the industry and exemplifies the core values and characteristics of EPI and the CEPA credential while creating a uniquely significant impact on the larger exit planning profession on a local, regional, national, and/or international scale.   

How does it feel to win an Excellence in Exit Planning Award? 

I am honored to be a part of the team and am filled with gratitude. I am an entrepreneur myself and have built and sold two companies. I am extremely grateful and want to live up to this award. Things like this drive me to go further and push harder in my work. My team brings me to this award and I want to thank them as well. 

What about exit planning interests you the most? 

I love the animal of the entrepreneur. Whether a second or third-generation owner who lives up to the standard or the first generation owner who runs away from what they do not want. I enjoy working with a group of people who need their options to be more even. Exit planning helps these owners grow even if they do not ultimately decide to sell.  

How has the CEPA community changed since you became a CEPA? 

My team joined the exit planning community when EPI was small. Now EPI and the CEPA credential have recognition. EPI pushed my business partner Steve and I to focus on long-term equity and doing the things in our own business that can help our clients. The CEPA program and the Value Acceleration Methodology have created a language across disciplines that advisors can share with their clients. 

What characteristics do you feel make a successful exit planning advisor and leader? 

I would say collaboration including taking care of other advisors is key to a successful exit planning advisor. You must fully understand your lane or role on the exit planning team with depth. Understand what you and your team are good at and what you are not. Then you must learn it, hire it, buy it, or partner with it to improve your practice. A good exit planning advisor clearly understands their personal lane and decides who can fit into the process and better serve the owner. 

Leaders should act as a support system for their teams. They should be the creator and followers of a process and serve their teams fully. Leaders help people listen with a better ear and see the obvious that they currently misunderstand or see differently. A good leader does not tell others what to do but gives them a place of pause and allows them to see other possibilities in their work. 


Congratulations to our 2023 Excellence in Exit Planning Award winners!