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Member Spotlight

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  • 11/01/2021 12:42 PM | Anonymous

    Meet Dionne Fajardo, Chief Compliance Officer and General Counsel at Element Pointe Advisors, LLC and Individual Member of the FSDA

    We are speaking today with Dionne Fajardo of Element Pointe Advisors, LLC, an investment adviser located in Miami, Florida.

    Dionne Fajardo, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

    I was raised in Minneapolis and went to college at World College West in California. After college, I lived in Taiwan, R.O.C. and then moved to Saint Petersburg, Florida where I began my career in financial services with William R. Hough & Co. I attended Stetson University College of Law and worked at AEGON/Transamerica. I then worked in private practice at Wiand Guerra King P.A., where I led its Compliance Practice Group representing broker-dealers and investment advisers with compliance and regulatory matters. I joined Element Pointe Advisors, LLC in 2020.

    Tell us a little about your firm

    Element Pointe Advisors is an investment adviser to high net worth investors and family offices.

    Why is it important for you, to be a member of the FSDA?

    I have appreciated FSDA’s engagement with our state regulator. I believe that FSDA’s open dialogue with Tallahassee has helped to effectively promote and support investor protection, public education, and industry initiatives.

    Dionne Fajardo, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.


  • 09/01/2021 9:18 AM | Anonymous

    We are speaking today with Joshua Cefkin, Sr. Director, Client Services and Brokerage Operations, TradeStation Securities Inc.

    Please tell us a little bit about yourself:

    I was born and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and graduated from Mars Hill College, NC where I majored in Business Management & Finance, including a study abroad at Regents College in London, UK. After working in banking and finance for 10 years I shifted my career focus to the brokerage industry and became a financial advisor for Morgan Stanley. I have always enjoyed managing a team and have been in a managerial role for most of my career. Looking to continue to gain knowledge and experience in the industry, I joined TradeStation in 2012 where I have had the privilege to lead multiple departments in achieving new milestones in service levels and new account growth. Throughout my carrier at TradeStation I’ve had the opportunity to create and manage several different groups that cover various aspects of the business, including Client Services, Technical Support, Trade Desk, Retail and Institutional Sales, Account Services and Tax Reporting. Whether creating a new team or taking over an existing one, my focus is on process efficiency, automation, and business scalability.

    Tell us a little about your firm:

    TradeStation offers advanced trading technology and online electronic brokerage services to active individual and institutional traders in the U.S. and worldwide. The company’s innovative trading and analysis platforms provide one-click access to all major U.S. exchanges and market centers, while its expansive product offering enables clients to design, test, optimize, monitor, and automate their own custom equities, options, and futures trading strategies. Currently we support trading in equities, equity options, futures and futures options. Remaining committed to providing the best trading experience, our platforms and brokerage services have received awards and recognition from respected industry reviewers like Barrons.com, StockBrokers.com, Investopedia and Investor’s Business Daily.

    Why is it important for TradeStation, to be a member of the FSDA?

    TradeStation is a self-directed, self-clearing, brokerage firm, meaning we offer multiple trading platforms and extensive educational resources, but we do not offer trade advice. That being said, we are a licensed broker-dealer which means we are subject to the same rules and regulations that govern full-service broker-dealers. Because of our setup, especially now that commission-free online trading has become so omnipresent, it is important for us to network and share our perspective on the securities industry with all types of brokerage and advisory firms. Being a member of the FSDA allows us the opportunity to participate in these discussions with other industry professionals, embrace our shared mission to educate investors and collectively advocate for fair laws to protect the public.

    I know that the members at are incredibly involved locally in the South Florida area. Please tell us a little bit about that involvement and your firm’s “give something back” initiative.

    TradeStation has a firmwide initiative to give back to our community and help those in need through a program called TradeStation Cares. To raise money, we incorporate fundraising events into our department initiatives, for example, during Client Services Week, we donate prizes for a raffle in which all proceeds are utilized by TradeStation Cares to help families in need. Additionally, we fundraise and work with several different causes and organizations throughout the year, for example The Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, Habitat for Humanity and others. We also volunteer at homeless shelters, food banks and environmental clean-ups. TradeStation is also a proud sponsor of the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), a nationally known childhood cancer prevention and support charity.

    Joshua Cefkin, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.


  • 07/30/2021 4:03 PM | Anonymous

    MEET Heather Cooper, Associate Attorney of FSDA Advisory Member Baritz & Colman LLP.

    We are speaking today with Heather Cooper, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

    I have been with Baritz & Colman LLP since 2015, where I concentrate my practice in financial services litigation. Prior to that, I was a Law Clerk with the Office of the General Counsel of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, where I had the opportunity to work with all four divisions of OFR, giving me a broad range of legal experience in the oversight of Florida's financial services providers.

    I was born in Miami, but spent most of my childhood throughout Broward County, Florida. My high school career was focused on journalism and working on the student newspaper, so I followed suit in college, but the long-term goal was always law school. I am a very proud “Double Gator”. I earned my BS in Journalism Summa Cum Laude from the University of Florida in 2010, and I received my JD in 2015 from the University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law. In law school, I was a member of the Corporate and Securities Moot Court Team, editor of the Journal of Technology Law & Policy, and publicity chair for the Law Association for Women. While obtaining my degrees, I also worked as a legal assistant at an Am Law 200 defense firm and made sure to travel internationally as often as I could get away with.

    On a personal level, my family, my dogs, and traveling are my passions. Another major priority for me is to support diversity and inclusion initiatives in not only the financial services industry but also the legal profession. I also feel very strongly about promoting the rights of women generally. For the past several years, I have served on the board of the South Palm Beach County Chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL) and have been a member of the Southeastern Women in Financial Services (SWIFS). I also currently serve on FSDA’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and I sit on the board for the Young Lawyer Section of the South Palm Beach County Bar Association.

    Tell us a little about your firm

    Baritz & Colman LLP was founded by Neil Baritz in 1996, with offices in New York and Florida. We represent financial firms, clearing and custodial firms, broker-dealers, registered representatives, investment advisers, insurance agents and industry professionals before state and federal courts, AAA and FINRA arbitration panels, and state and federal regulators (including Florida’s OFR, the SEC, and FINRA) throughout the country. We are regularly engaged in matters such as entity formation, registration, licensing, arbitration, litigation, employment, and regulatory inquiries or investigations. Our Firm’s other practice areas include real estate, corporate, commercial litigation and trust and estates.

    My firm believes it is important to give back to the community and supports its attorneys in the initiates we feel strongly about. My firm has donated its time and resources to numerous local fundraising events put on by the organizations and associations that I am involved in. Also, through SWIFS, I am able to contribute my time and resources to the Pace Center for Girls. On a personal level, I also like to support Black Girls CODE as well as the South Florida Wildlife Center. I have volunteered at the Center and delivered countless hurt animals there - Birds, squirrels, possums, you name it. If you are local and find hurt or orphaned wildlife, please try and deliver or coordinate a rescue with the Center.

    Why is it important for Baritz & Colman LLP, to be a member of the FSDA?

    FSDA is an integral advocate for securities firms and professionals in the state of Florida, and the goal of Baritz & Colman LLP is to support the financial services industry, so our involvement with FSDA naturally flows and is a priority of the Firm in order to best serve our clients.

    Heather Cooper, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.


  • 06/29/2021 11:45 AM | Anonymous

    MEET Julia Richardson, VP, Supervision-Fiduciary Services at Raymond James. A Corporate Member of the FSDA.

    We are speaking today with Julia Richardson, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

    I was raised in St. Matthews, SC and most of my extended family still lives in South Carolina. I earned a B.A. in Political Science from Barnard College, Columbia University in New York City. I worked for a few years at a non-profit in Philadelphia before attending law school at the George Washington School of Law in Washington, D.C. After law school, I moved a little closer to home and accepted a job in Charlotte, NC at K&L Gates where I began my career as an ERISA & Executive Compensation attorney. I spent a number of years at Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement & Trust focusing on institutional fiduciary issues, before joining Raymond James, in July of 2019 to spearhead the implementation of Regulation Best Interest for Raymond James. My current focus continues to be on Reg BI, but also on other fiduciary related regulatory matters that impact Raymond James.

    Why is it important for Raymond James, to be a member of the FSDA?

    As a financial institution based in Florida, Raymond James sees the critical importance of the FSDA as a representative body of the industry in both regulatory and legislative matters. In addition the FSDA is an organization that espouses the values Raymond James believes in with giving back to our community in various ways. This includes, but is not limited to, expanding financial literacy amongst our youth in Florida, protecting vulnerable communities against financial abuse, and working with industry peers to highlight the career opportunities available in our industry for future generations.

    I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in various committees on the FSDA. The breadth and depth of expertise and knowledge both brings awareness for me and my firm, but also to our broader community. The financial industry in Florida is not only growing, but the clients and customers in need of our services is as well. The FSDA is a platform for both networking, education, and advocacy that aligns with the values and culture of Raymond James. Knowing I can impact the industry positively is gratifying to me as an industry professional. The FSDA members work for the good of both investors and the industry.

    Along with being on the Executive Committee of the FSDA, I am on the board of the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts. I am co-chair of the Women’s Inclusion Network, along with Erin Linehan for Raymond James. I also am active in supporting the arts and cultural institutions in the local Tampa Bay area.

    Julia, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.

  • 05/28/2021 3:28 PM | Anonymous

    MEET Hank Sanchez, Managing Director, Bates Group LLC.

    Hank, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
    I am a seasoned compliance and legal professional with over 30 years of securities industry experience working with a wide range of companies, from small financial firms to national clients. I have extensive expertise in risk management, investment advising, financial legal issues, risk assessment, compliance, and due diligence. I was raised in Bayonne, NJ and graduated from Richard Stockton State College, Pomona, NJ (B.A. in Criminal Justice). In between college and law school I was a New Jersey State Trooper. I went on to earn a J.D. from Rutgers-Newark law school, and then an LLM in Securities Regulation from Georgetown University Law School. For over a decade, I worked as a regulator for the SEC, and enforcement counsel for NASD n/k/a FINRA. I have worked in private practice both in Tampa and in Washington, DC. I have served as general counsel for a broker-dealer in Lakeland, FL, as a compliance officer for TIAA CREF, and as CCO for LPL Financial. I joined Bates Group in 2019 and now work closely with the Bates Compliance team on compliance projects and regulatory enforcement matters. This includes expert consultation and testimony.

    Tell us a little about your firm.
    Bates Group assists clients with litigation support, data analysis, and compliance consulting, regulatory and internal investigations, and AML and financial crimes. The Bates Compliance team consists of experienced industry professionals who provide comprehensive offerings for broker-dealer, registered investment adviser and hybrid clients, assisting them with supervision, compliance, risk, AML, and internal audit functions. Bates Compliance performs as-needed or ongoing reviews and guidance to meet your regulatory compliance obligations. Our seasoned professionals closely review and test policies and procedures, supervisory and compliance processes, and the related practices involved in operating your business, recommending changes and industry standards to supplement and enhance clients' compliance and supervisory systems, and remediate the results of regulatory, litigation, and internal audit findings and decisions.

    Our Regulatory Investigations practice team works closely with regional and multi-national financial services firms, law firms, and federal and state regulators.

    Our role is that of a partner to our clients and their counsel, bringing our technical, industry and managerial expertise to address the issues and support their work through a full and final resolution.

    Why is it important for the Bates Group, to be a member of the FSDA?Personally, while living in the Tampa area for about 10 years, I joined FSDA during the 1990’s, and found the FSDA to be so helpful to its members and to the local communities. Bates itself has deep ties to the Florida financial community and the counsel who serve them for over four decades. FSDA is at the forefront of providing financial and regulatory education to its members, the community as a whole, and to students. FSDA also takes the lead on important investor protection legislation. Finally, the ability to network with many of its members’, who span all levels of the financial services industry, helps all members grow their knowledge.

    Please tell us a little bit about your firm’s “give something back” initiative.
    Bates empowers their employees to learn about the world and their impact on their communities. Many of our employees are involved in local organizations as featured on our “Bates in the Community” page. On employee/affiliate anniversaries, Bates donates to a charity of their choice. Last year, in addition to Pace Center for Girls, Hillsborough, our 2020 charitable recipients included: Oceana, Feeding America, The Humane Society and the Equal Justice Initiative.

    Personally, for over 20 years, approximately 6-8 times per year, I head to my local blood bank and donate platelets. Platelets help form clots and stop bleeding. They are essential to help cancer patients, burn victims, and those with major injuries. Platelets have a shelf-life of only five days, whereas blood has a shelf-life of over a month. So, the need for platelets is immediate and constant. I have never known who receives those platelets; the important thing is that I know the platelets go to someone in dire need.

    Hank, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.


  • 05/03/2021 10:09 AM | Anonymous

    MEET Leo Peraza, Principal at FSDA Corporate Member, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C.

    We are speaking today with Leo Peraza of Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., in its Miami, Florida office.

    Leo, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

    I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. When I was not in school, you could generally find me on a baseball field at shortstop. I attended Florida International University, where I double-majored in Finance and International Business. Prior to attending law school, I worked at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, primarily servicing clients from Latin America. I decided to go to law school at the University of Miami, where I focused on a business and securities law curriculum. In law school, I was truly fortunate to participate in the inaugural class of the Investor Rights Clinic, where we represented under-served investors in securities arbitration claims before FINRA. This experience set the tone for my legal career. Ever since graduating from the University of Miami in 2012, my practice at Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C. has focused primarily on representing financial institutions in a variety of contexts, including customer disputes, employment, and regulatory issues before state and federal regulators.

    Tell us a little about your firm.

    It is inspiring to work at Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C. When I started with the firm eight years ago, it was much smaller, with offices in New Jersey, New York, and Florida (Fort Lauderdale). Since then, the firm has grown tremendously, adding offices in Miami, Alabama, Texas, Washington D.C., and North Carolina. We have also added several excellent practice groups during that time, creating a firm with a comprehensive geographic footprint to represent clients across numerous industries and more than two dozen practice area specialties. In the securities arena, I am fortunate that through Bressler, I work with top-tier financial institutions and their exceptional in-house legal teams in a wide range of sophisticated matters. Beyond my legal work, Bressler supports my local community involvement, which is particularly important to me as a Cuban American.

    Why is it important for Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., to be a member of the FSDA?

    Bressler has been a member of the FSDA for over 30 years and counts a former FSDA President among its ranks. Bressler’s longstanding involvement is a testament to the importance of the FSDA’s mission as the single most important advocate for the securities industry in Florida. Through the FSDA, Bressler has an opportunity to amplify its advocacy for its clients in more ways than it can as an individual law firm. This advocacy includes supporting regulatory and legislative improvements for the industry and providing educational opportunities for members of the industry and Florida’s investing public. In addition, the FSDA has developed incredible community outreach programs and opportunities that facilitate our ability to educate and better prepare vulnerable communities from financial abuse.

    I know that Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., is incredibly involved in childhood cancer charities. Please tell us a little bit about that involvement.

    Bressler is involved in a several charities nationwide, and we are committed to serving as responsible corporate citizens in the communities where we live and work. Our dedication to community service and pro bono work spans our network of offices, directly benefiting our local communities. On a local level, our Florida offices are incredibly engaged with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer and the I Care I Cure Childhood Cancer Foundation, which have recently merged. We have had the privilege to organize and lead many successful fundraising events, and community outreach initiatives to increase awareness. Several of my Bressler colleagues are leaders and board members of the local organizations, and they have infused our offices with a tremendous passion for the cause.

    Leo, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.


  • 03/31/2021 10:53 AM | Anonymous

    Meet Bart McDonald, (EVP/COO) and (Renaissance Regulatory Services, Inc.). A (Corporate Member) of the FSDA

    Bart, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

    I was born in Devon, Pennsylvania but spent most of my childhood in Chappaqua, New York. I earned a BS in Marketing from Merrimack College in Andover Massachusetts and then came south to Boca Raton, where I obtained a BA in Economics and my Master of Business Administration from Florida Atlantic University. I first learned about the “compliance” side of the financial services industry while completing my MBA and working part-time at Securities Consultants International, LLC, where I prepared Net Capital statements and filed FOCUS reports for broker-dealers with the then Nation Association of Securities Dealers (“NASD”). That experience opened a whole career path in compliance, and after a short stint with Templeton Global Investors, Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, I worked for regulatory compliance practices at KPMG L.L.P. and BISYS Regulatory Services. I then went to work for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Southeast Regional Office, where I was an examiner and Branch Chief from 2004 through 2006. In 2007 I joined Renaissance Regulatory Services, Inc. (“RRS”), as Executive Vice President and Co-Owner where I am responsible for RRS’ investment advisory practice.

    Tell us a little about your firm?

    RRS provides a comprehensive suite of regulatory compliance consulting and support services designed to help broker-dealers, investment advisers, and other financial institutions meet their ever-changing regulatory requirements. We focus on a customized, “hands on” approach designed to integrate with the firm’s compliance infrastructure. Our consultants work closely with senior management and compliance personnel to assess each firm’s unique needs, develop recommendations, and prepare a project plan to implement the recommended strategy. We offer a wide range of services, which include compliance examinations, policies and procedures, regulatory response and litigation support, ongoing compliance support programs, and business planning, startup, registration, and licensing.

    Why is it important for RRS, to be a member of the FSDA?

    FSDA’s mission is to advocate on behalf of the industry and provide education opportunities for our members and Florida's investing public.

    I believe this aligns with our core values as a Firm. We view ourselves as partners with our clients to help them navigate the regulatory maze. An important element of that is understanding the state and federal securities laws and then communicating them in an understandable and actionable way. In addition, when our clients are going through a regulatory examination, our job is to advocate for them with the regulators to ensure their business practices are properly communicated. The FSDA allows us to provide our clients indirect input with their Florida regulator while utilizing our educational approach to consulting to the wider Florida constituency regarding investor education, financial exploitation of seniors and other vulnerable adults, privacy, and a host of other important issues.

    I know that the members at FSDA are incredibly involved locally in the within their communities. Please tell us a little bit about that involvement and your firm’s “give something back” initiative.

    We are in the middle of a global pandemic and fortunate to work in an industry that has been less harmed by this pandemic than many other industries. Our Firm, driven by our employees, resolved to give back locally and we have provided time and resources as a group to local food banks, and most recently to preparing non-perishable care packages (socks, granola bars, toothbrushes, water bottles etc.) to hand out to whomever we see or pass by in our daily life that appears in need. That hands on approach works well for our size Firm and is also the approach the FSDA takes regarding financial education and Florida specific regulatory issues.

    Bart, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.

  • 03/01/2021 10:21 AM | Anonymous

    Meet Bill Reilly, Associate Director at Oyster Consulting, LLC and an Advisory level member of the FSDA.

    We are speaking today with Bill Reilly

    Bill, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

    I was born in Connecticut and then moved to Florida in late 1960s; went to college at University of Florida. From 1984 until 2012, during my employment with the Florida Division of Securities, I held several positions, including Bureau Chief, and was responsible for running the Division’s examination program for broker-dealers and investment advisors. During this time, I was also involved in securities regulation at the national level through my association with the North American Securities Administrators Association. In 2012 I joined Oyster Consulting, opening a location in Tallahassee, Florida. While at Oyster I have worked with both broker-dealers and investment advisors to guide them through both proactive and reactive regulatory processes and compliance issues.

    Tell us a little about your firm.

    Oyster Consulting was formed in October 2008, which, depending on your perspective, was the best of times or the worst of times to start a securities consulting firm at the start of the Great Recession. Oyster provides consulting, software and outsourcing services following a risk-based approach with our clients. We take time to understand risks the organization is experiencing and develop policies, procedures, and practices to mitigate those risks. The team at Oyster includes not just former regulators and CCOs, but operations, trading and finance professionals that make sure our clients get practical results.

    Why is it important for you and our firm, to be a member of the FSDA?

    Oyster believes that most industry firms and individuals strive to comply with industry regulations and best practices, which protect clients. We work with industry members on compliance issues and participate through the FSDA in the effort to support reasonable regulations and provide educational outreach to investors and industry participants.

    As both a consultant and regulator I have worked with industry members and investors to protect senior and vulnerable investors. I have personally seen the devastation which can occur when a senior investor is defrauded, losing some or all of their nest egg intended for their “golden years.” Oyster works with firms on developing effective policies, procedures, and best practices to protect these investors and actively participates in legislative and educational outreach efforts of the FSDA to protect our most vulnerable citizens.

    Bill, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.

    The FSDA strives to showcase a member of our group each month.


  • 12/04/2019 10:52 AM | Anonymous

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: KACY DONLON

    MEET KACY DONLON OF FSDA CORPORATE MEMBER, WIAND GUERRA KING P.A., AND THE INCOMING FSDA PRESIDENT FOR 2020

    We are speaking today with Kacy Donlon of Wiand Guerra King P.A., a law firm located in Tampa, Florida.

    Kacy, please tell us about yourself.

    I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. I attended Birmingham-Southern College where I was fortunate to take study trips to Australia, China and Egypt, and also spent a summer studying at Oxford. This wanderlust led to a Rotary Scholarship to study at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. after I graduated from college. After St. Andrews, I worked as a paralegal doing securities and insurance sales practice litigation. With that experience, my course was set. I attended Washington & Lee University School of Law where I was the Securities Editor for the Law Review. After law school, I clerked for U.S. District Court Senior Judge Seybourn Lynne in Birmingham.

    After my clerkship, I started my legal practice in the fall of 1995 at Fowler White Boggs Banker in Tampa, representing broker-dealers in securities arbitrations and insurance companies in sales practice class actions. Several of my partners and I left Fowler White in 2009 and started Wiand Guerra King.

    Tell us about your current legal practice and the types of clients that you represent.

    The majority of my practice involves the representation of broker-dealer firms and their representatives in FINRA customer and employment arbitrations. This carries over to similar representation in dealing with SROs and state and federal regulators. Additionally, I represent businesses in commercial disputes in both state and federal courts.

    Why is it important for Wiand Guerra King P.A., to be a member of the FSDA?

    Wiand Guerra King’s main practice is commercial and white-collar litigation with a focus in the financial services industry. Given that the FSDA is the heartbeat for securities firms in the state of Florida, our affiliation with FSDA is a natural fit. FSDA allows our firm to collaborate with others in the industry to serve not just financial services firms but also the investing public through legislative efforts and public education.

    I know that the lawyers in your firm are very involved locally in the Tampa Bay area. Please tell us about that involvement and your firm’s desire to give back to the community.

    Our firm believes that it is imperative to give back to the community. We have chosen to do that through numerous organizations and initiatives. For years, our firm has been actively involved with the Epilepsy Services Foundation and the Children’s Dream Fund. Additionally, we encourage our attorneys and staff to follow their passions and support charities that help worthy causes.

    Kacy, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.

  • 11/01/2019 4:56 PM | Anonymous

    MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: NEIL BARITZ

    MEET NEIL BARITZ, ESQ. OF FSDA ADVISORY MEMBER BARITZ & COLMAN LLP.

    We are speaking today with Neil Baritz of Baritz & Colman LLP, a law firm with offices in Boca Raton, Florida, and New York, New York.

    Neil, please tell us a little bit about yourself

    I was raised in Roslyn, New York, got my bachelor’s degree in political science and psychology at the University of Rochester and graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1983. I founded Baritz & Colman LLP in 1996 after having practiced law in New York and Florida. I have spent my entire professional life in the financial services industry. My career began while I was in law school, working in EF Hutton’s Legal Department, where I became in-house counsel upon graduation. I then served as General Counsel to Ehrlich Bober & Company, a publicly traded broker-dealer and registered investment advisor. I moved my family to Florida in 1993, where I worked for two well-known South Florida law firms handling securities arbitration and litigation, before joining one of my clients as the firm’s in-house corporate securities and litigation counsel. In 1996, Baritz & Colman opened its doors for business, where my primary focus has been on the financial services industry.

    Tell us a little about your current legal practice and the types of clients that you represent.

    My practice is almost entirely focused on the financial services industry. We represent broker-dealers, registered investment advisors, clearing and custodial firms, and their respective associated personnel. I am regularly engaged in matters ranging from entity formation and registration to arbitration and litigation, and from employment to regulatory matters. On behalf of the Firm’s clients, I have represented the industry and its associated persons before AAA and FINRA arbitration panels, state and federal regulators (including Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation, the SEC, and FINRA) throughout the country. On the broker-dealer side, our clients include full-service and discount firms, large and small, and on the investment advisory side, we represent newly formed entities at their inception as well as established firms with multi-billion dollars under management. Part and parcel to both the broker-dealer and investment advisory aspects of our practice, we are regularly engaged to assist our clients with ever increasing licensing and registration challenges. Because of the breadth of our financial services practice, I am regularly asked to present at client and industry conferences around the country, principally in the area of best practices.

    How does Baritz & Colman’s New York Office fit into the picture?

    While Florida has been home for almost 27 years, I confess to being a New Yorker and remain a diehard Giants fan. On the business side, we have found that whether it’s on the financial services front or in the context of our other practice areas (real estate, corporate, commercial litigation and trust and estates), it’s a perfect fit. Our New York team perfectly complements our Florida business and adds depth to what we are able to offer our clients and collaborative solutions to their challenges.

    Why is it important for Baritz & Colman to be a member of the FSDA?

    Alex Sarafoglu “recruited” me several years ago, telling me that I needed to get involved with FSDA – and he was right. Since joining, I have found the work that FSDA does, be it education, outreach, or industry advocacy, to be first-rate and committed. For the last several years, I have chaired the Education Committee where I have been involved with a committed team in presenting topical agendas with highly regarded experts in their respective fields. What I find most rewarding about FSDA is its collegiality and the shared goal of advancing industry objectives, while providing education to our membership as well as the public-at-large.

    I know that the lawyers in your firm are very involved locally in Boca Raton. Please tell us a little bit about that involvement.

    Yes. Our lawyers are involved both at the civic and the charitable levels. One of our lawyers is an elected member of the Boca Raton City Council, while other members are very active with organizations like the local Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Association of Women Lawyers, to name a few. My family and I are very involved with the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, one of the most highly regarded such organizations in the country. Through the Federation, we do great work in both local and international arenas. Our particular interest is providing a “safety net” to the community where essential services are not otherwise available or its needs met. To say it’s rewarding is an understatement!

    Neil, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.

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