About Us | Our Mission & Team
We help successful people make better financial decisions
and feel more secure about their money
Help YOU make better financial decisions and feel more secure about YOUR finances
The primary mission of Summit Wealth & Retirement Partners is to help successful people make better financial decisions and feel more secure about their money. We accomplish our mission by providing highly customized financial advice, and always putting our client’s best interest above all else. Our job is to help clients by designing, implementing, and monitoring their customized financial plans.
If you want a local Advisor that can help all of your financial planning, tax planning, and investment management, we are here to help. Our clients value having the local expertise that they can meet with face-to-face as often as they like, while also knowing that we have the deep resources of Charles Schwab supporting us every step of the way.
Meet Our Team
Four Certified Financial Planners (CFPs), a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), an MBA and a dedicated supporting cast
We’re a boutique firm with some of the best minds in the industry. You can get to know us individually below, or better yet, come sit down and talk with us in person.
Here's a few highlights:
Get to Know Us
The Team at Summit Wealth
As a young child I saw firsthand the stress that personal finances can cause within a family. I often witnessed my parents in disagreement over how money was being spent and whether or not enough was being saved. I resolved at a very early age to learn everything I could about personal finance so that I could help my parents and relieve some of their stress.
By age 12 I was investing in individual stocks, and still have the original stock certificates from my first purchase (Nike). By age 15 I was investing in mutual funds with my savings from working at a local deli. Every Saturday morning I sat down with my folks as they paid the bills. I knew what their salaries were, how much went to taxes, and how much all of the bills amounted to. This was a great early lesson because I knew how much, or little, was left.
I believe it was Confucius who said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I am quite proud to say I followed this advice. At Summit Wealth & Retirement we handle the investing and financial planning for about 250 families in the Bay Area and several Western states. Our clients value our honest and direct approach, and know that we have the skills and experience to help them make better decisions and feel more secure about their money. Regardless of net worth, the #1 fear that people have is that they will run out of money. I’ve spent the past 15 years addressing this fear head-on by designing, implementing, and monitoring financial plans that help ensure my client’s money will last longer than they do. Whether it’s protecting what they already have, growing their wealth, minimizing their taxes, or designing a plan to pass assets to their kids, we are here to help. In addition to having a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation, I also hold my Series 7, 66, and 24 licenses, and hold certifications in asset management and retirement planning. I am also a registered tax preparer and an Adjunct instructor in Financial Planning at UCLA. Most importantly, I live in Danville with my wife Maryline and my three wonderful children Dylan (age 9), Tyler (age 7), and Nyla (4). When I am not at work I enjoy spending time with my family and enjoying the many natural wonders of Northern California.
Growing up in the south bay, I was lucky to have parents who modeled and lived lives of service to others. Both my Mom and Dad served in the military and had us all involved in local charities at a young age. As a result when I graduated from the University of Oregon I took a path that seemed obvious at the time, I was commissioned and served almost 8 years in the Air Force on active duty and the reserves.
Shortly after leaving the Air Force, I was hired and entered into a training program at CIGNA Financial Group to become a financial planner. One of the first things that attracted me to this company was their “serve the client’s needs first” philosophy.
After leaving CIGNA I spent over 15 years in the institutional asset management business, providing investment consulting and asset management services to pension plans, endowments , foundations and large 401K plans.
About 12 years ago I joined Summit Wealth & Retirement Partners, with the goal being to help individuals and families utilize the same money management techniques that large institutions were using. Pension plans, endowments, and foundations are all designed to make sure their money lasts as long as possible. This is the same goal individuals and families have, and yet very few financial planners are addressing this.
It still surprises me today when I learn that most people we meet with believe that financial planning is just investment management. One of the greatest things we do for our clients is to provide solutions to all of their family’s financial needs. We gain a thorough understanding of their situation and know how all of the various issues of their plan are related. Our work helps our clients to make better, more informed financial decisions. Our culture is focused on serving our client family needs and is something I believe in and try to live daily.
One of the things that many of our clients face is what has been termed the “sandwich generation.” My wife, Cathy, and I have faced the issues of getting kids into and through college, dealing with aging parents, their support needs and cognitive issues and planning for a successful retirement simultaneously. We know the importance of proper estate documents and long term care and the challenges these issues can place on family members and a successful financial plan.
I live in Granite Bay with my wife Cathy where we enjoy travel, riding our bikes, snow skiing and golf. We have been blessed with two wonderful kids. Matthew is a UCSB graduate and lives and works in commercial insurance in Santa Barbara and Elizabeth is finishing her junior year the University of Kansas with a major in Speech Pathology and will be going to graduate school soon.
I have always been interested in the financial markets and I have both an undergraduate and a graduate degree in business. This career has allowed me to combine my passion for serving others with my interest in personal finance. Thirty-years later I am still excited to come into work each day because I know that what we do has a positive impact on people’s lives.
Throughout my experience in the financial services industry, I’ve witnessed the impact that planning, or perhaps more importantly, the lack thereof, can have on families. At certain times we all have choices to make as we prepare for and respond to life events. I'm proud to be part of an organization whose core mission is to partner with clients to make better financial decisions, so that they can feel more secure and confident about their futures.
I joined Summit in the spring of 2018 after a 15 years with Lincoln Financial Advisors. My experience in leadership there taught me that the most important thing we do as Advisors is build trust by always putting our clients needs first. This “Serve First” philosophy has been engrained in me as a fundamental key to our business. I'm passionate about finding new and better ways that we can serve our clients, using proven processes, systems, and technology to deliver service and support in a way that distinguishes us as a premier provider of highly customized advice.
I graduated with Distinction from Purdue University, earning Bachelor of Science in Management and Management Information Systems. I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) Professional, and hold the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®) and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®) designations. I also maintain the following FINRA licenses:
Series 24: General Securities Principal
Series 7: General Securities Representative
Series 63: Uniform Securities Agent State Law
I live in San Ramon with my wife Maureen, and our two young children Cara and Owen. We moved from Indiana to the bay area in 2011and love exploring the beautiful state of California.
I came to work for the Summit Wealth team in June 2013. As an Associate Advisor, my primary responsibilities are data gathering, case design, plan development, review preparation, research, reporting, and presentation development. I also maintain all aspects of our financial planning software and reporting tools. My favorite part of the job, though, is working with clients to help them define and then achieve their financial goals.
In November 2015, I received a Certificate in Personal Financial Planning from Bryant University. Then in February, 2016, I became a Certified Financial Planner Professional. My education also includes a Bachelor's degree from Drake University and a Master's Degree from the University of Texas at Austin, both in music performance. After realizing that being a musician was not providing me with the financial stability that was so essential to me, I branched out into new areas. After spending time in both the higher education and insurance fields, I was excited to find a career path that would allow me to combine my natural interest in improving people’s financial lives with my research and analytical skills.
I am an active member of the Financial Planning Association of the East Bay. As part of that membership, I enjoy participating in pro bono financial events and also am on the career development committee. I’m currently pursuing a designation in divorce planning called the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.
After living in many locales (from Texas to Japan) as an Air Force spouse, I settled in the charming town of Crockett. I enjoy spending time with my two adult sons --one a recent college graduate and economic analyst for the Almond Board of California and the other a student at Cal State Chico. During my spare time, I also enjoy playing the cello, reading novels, watching movies and taking my energetic Great Dane for walks.
On Thanksgiving Day, 1985, in the frigid oilfields of eastern Montana after graduating from the local community college and six months into my initial career as a roustabout, I sat in the cab of a Shell Oil truck with a frozen nose and iced-over cup of coffee in thirty-below-zero weather and had the epiphany that there were probably some alternative and better career choices to which I could devote my life. A very persistent aunt convinced me to move to California where I enrolled in the Business program at California State University – Chico. Two months later, I attended a lecture from a local financial planner and found my calling. Four years later with a BS degree in Finance, I challenged the Certified Financial Planner exams and was the first graduate from the Cal State - Chico College of Business to be awarded the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation.
After many years devoted to public speaking and writing on the topics of financial planning (FOX, NPR, KRON, KQED, Financial Planning Journal, et al), I developed an interest and expertise in assisting clients with portfolio management and financial decision making during their retirement years.
In 2019, after thirty years with Lincoln Financial Advisors, I moved my practice to Summit Wealth and Retirement, following Rob Cucchiaro and Ryan McCloskey. The independence and professionalism at Summit allow for a commitment to act in the best interest of clients, and I greatly enjoy working with a group of advisors who are smarter than me.
Outside of the office, I enjoy painting watercolors, writing novels and short stories (San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, et al), and running a small organic farm in Castro Valley with my partner, Curtis.
Summit Tax Planning is led by Debbie Pham, an Enrolled Agent with over 15 years of tax planning experience.
Debbie obtained her B.S. degree from the U.C. of Riverside, after which she worked for Ernst & Young, eventually rising up to one of their Tax Managers.
Debbie is passionate about income taxes. She enjoys reading about changes in the tax code and helping her clients make the best tax decisions based on their personal situation. And while most tax preparers focus exclusively on tax compliance (i.e. making sure your taxes are filed on-time), Debbie actually helps her clients with tax strategy. This is one of the reasons Ernst & Young moved Debbie into their high net worth tax group, where she worked with many of the firm’s most successful families.
Debbie has a special affinity for business owners, having been one herself for when she owned & operated an auto repair shop in Alameda, while also working full-time in her profession.
Finally, Debbie has a passion for real estate and a deep understanding of real estate tax law, and she stays informed by being an active member of her local realtor association, where she has served as volunteer Treasurer for the past four years.
Naumdar Akhavan is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) and Portfolio Manager with Summit Wealth & Retirement Partners. Summit directly manages or advises on over $380M of assets for high net worth families.
Prior to joining Summit, Naumy was a portfolio manager with Morgan Stanley where he built custom portfolios for high net worth families. Prior to Morgan Stanley, Naumy served as an Analyst with Neuberger Berman Wealth Management and Wells Fargo Investments.
As a portfolio manager, Naumy’s unique strength is building income-producing portfolios for retirees and near-retirees who seek to turn their assets into a predictable stream of income. Naumy’s portfolios often provide a contrarian view to what the rest of the market and retail investors are doing. He focuses on bottom-up research that focuses on developments at the industry level.
A California native, Naumy earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of California at Santa Cruz where he also studied classical music. He attributes part of his strategic perspective to lessons learned from these disciplines. Naumdar has earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and is a member of the CFA® Society of San Francisco.
Geoff joined our team as Relationship Manager in June of 2017. He is responsible for general client service issues as well as supporting advisors with new business processing, account servicing, and placing trades. In addition to his office work, Geoff is pursuing a Certified Financial Planning Designation.
Geoff graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management. Prior to joining Summit, Geoff worked as a Client Service Associate for Cambier Investment Management, a small Investment Management firm in Danville. He had similar responsibilities focusing around client service.
Outside of work, Geoff enjoys the outdoors and is always searching for his next adventure. He and his wife Laura love to hike and explore the Bay Area. Geoff is also a private pilot and flies to various destinations to take advantage of the beautiful scenery and delicious food. His other great joy is his son Gavin who was born in August of 2018.
Maryline's bio is coming soon. Have questions? Give her a call or shoot her an email.
Assets Under Management & Assets Under Advisory
* As of 3/31/2019.
Our Promise to You
Which we do not take lightly
We promise to do what we say we’ll do, do everything in our power to keep our clients happy and to keep our promises.
Reputation is everything in this business. We take great pride in the reputation that we’ve built over the years and have no plans to put that at risk.
The result of keeping that promise is that for the last 30 years, many of Danville & Alamo’s most successful families have employed Summit Wealth & Retirement Partners as their family’s financial advisor. We’d love the opportunity to earn your family’s trust as well.