More than just a private wealth manager, Christine Vergari sees herself as a confidante and an advocate with an interest that extends far beyond wealth planning. As a banker in the Fort Lauderdale office of J.P. Morgan Private Bank, her client roster includes successful entrepreneurs, high-end business owners, executives and multi-generational families who seek trusted guidance to help transform their hard work into sustainable legacies. Her focus is on making the best use of their assets across the entirety of their financial lives. Whether families require investments, philanthropic strategies, mortgages, credit services and more, she delivers a layer of confidence that their important goals will be addressed. Her strength lies in an ability to connect like-minded individuals and share best practices and innovative ideas. Deeply passionate about supporting the needs of women—many of whom are enjoying financial independence for the first time—Christine has made it a priority to highlight their accomplishments and successes. Here Impact Wealth speaks to Christine on the importance for families to work with a trusted advisor, her thoughts on women supporting other women, and advice on her secrets for success.
As a sought after speaker at conferences and universities across the country, and a contributing author for women-centric networking groups such as the Daily Drip and Elle Family Office, what advice would you give to empower the next generation of female leaders?
CV: Never stop learning, be authentic and purposeful in what you do and find a job that you love doing. If you want to be successful, you’re going to live your job and if you love what you do, it’s not work. I would also tell the next generation of leaders, irrespective of gender, to surround yourself with people you look up to and share the same values and priorities as you do. The most important lessons I have learned over my career have come from my mentors.
In your talks to students and other professionals, you stress the importance of identifying what makes you fearful, and find a way to conquer those fears before they can hold you back. What’s your advice to people, in any profession, on how to conquer their fears?
CV: My advice is my story. For the first 15 years of my career, I was terrified of public speaking and flying. I would literally do the work, and give the credit to someone else if it meant I didn’t have to present it. Flying was also a big fear, one that caused me to pass on opportunities that would have opened doors and furthered my career early on. It wasn’t until I turned 35 and decided it was now or never. I was going to either conquer my fears or live with them for the rest of my life; I chose the former. I set out and found a job that required me to fly around the country and give presentations to large groups of executives. It was a tough 2 years, but with time and practice, I conquered those fears.
The biggest regret I have in my career is that I didn’t find that job early on and conquer those fears from day one. I tell anyone who will listen, students and young professionals alike, identify your ‘public speaking’ and find a job that requires you to do just that. I still don’t love to public speak or fly, but I am now able to do both and I am better for it.
Your job is primarily around giving advice and guidance to your clients. Who are some of the clients you tend to work with and what advice do you give them?
CV: That’s a great question, one I get often, and the answer is that ‘it depends’. The advice I would give one family might be very different from the advice I would give another family. Whether you are working with a multi-generational family or a business owner considering an exit strategy, the key is to know what questions to ask and to listen. To effectively advice, you need to understand the history behind journey that go them here, where they are now and what they want in the future. That may take one meeting with a client or happen over the course of multiple meetings with different family members, but the goal is the same. The goal is to first understand what is truly important to the person? What are their values? What do they want to accomplish in the future? Only when you have answers to these and many other important questions, can you start to strategize a plan.
I tend to work with all types of clients from multi-generational families to business owners to individuals and couples preparing for retirement. Most clients have the benefit of substantial wealth, but with that wealth the complexity in how they need to plan for the future. In addition to working with clients through complex planning strategies, I also strongly believe in education. I have a specific niche around working with women investors, especially those who are having to deal with financial matters for the first time. These individuals are usually going through a life changing event such as the recent passing of a spouse or are newly separated or divorced.
I believe education and knowledge leads to confidence, and confidence in one’s financial future leads to freedom and peace of mind.
How did you become so passionate about women supporting women?
CV: I was a female professional on Wall Street and there were not many of us. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to work under some amazing and talented women, who have been instrumental in my development, both professionally and personally. They took me under their wings and helped guide and teach me the skills, capabilities and stamina I needed to get where I am today. Now that I am in those senior positions and can repay that kindness and support I was shown all those years ago, I see it as a genuine honor and privilege to pay it forward.
About Christine Vergari
Christine’s background in finance and consulting enables her to help clients solve complex planning issues. She began at Morgan Stanley, Bear Stearns and Credit Suisse, delivering portfolio management guidance to trading desks and institutional clients. Most recently, Christine was at Bernstein Private Wealth Management following five years in academia at UNC Chapel Hill and the University of Miami and now at J.P. Morgan. Christine sits on the boards of the Boys & Girls Club of Wellington, the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and ELITE Funds Freedom. Married and the mom of two teenagers, her best days can be found playing pickleball, soccer or golf, and enjoying other fun outdoor activities with her family and friends.