Employee Spotlight: Meet David Yepez, Equity Analyst & Portfolio Manager

February 3, 2021

Meet David Yepez, Equity Analyst & Portfolio Manager

In continuation of our employee spotlight series, we’d like you to meet one of our team leaders, David Yepez. We asked David to answer a few questions about his history in the financial industry, how he got here, and what he is doing to lead the way at Exencial Wealth Advisors.


What lead you into our industry?

I was born and raised in a very small town by the coastline of Venezuela. A paradise for anyone who is brave enough to vacation there. I still remember the clarity of the ocean and smell of salt that traveled across my neighborhood during the day. As a kid, I enjoyed playing soccer and basketball with my friends, but was always thrilled to take my bike into the mountains to venture to new pathways. We lived in a small apartment with my 3 brothers and sister. I remembered that food was scarcer growing up and that no crumbs went to waste. There were always arguments regarding money and having enough capital to make for the end of the month’s rent. I never knew that managing money was going to be my calling, but I promised myself that I would work hard to stay as far away as possible from the poverty line. In my mind being wealthy meant freedom of time and ability to care for parents and communities. I guess that search for freedom attracted me to read biographies of very successful businesspeople and investors.

In the 90s the situation for my family got better. My family was middle class in the 90s, when being middle class meant having enough money to travel, a good education, and ability to save for a rainy day. I was lucky to have grown up in a period where Venezuela was a country of possibilities; at least that’s how I remember it sometimes. I was grateful to my mom, a doctor that took the time around her busy schedule to teach me about how to approach life in a positive matter and maintain healthy habits. My dad, an HR director, taught me the importance of relating to other people, competing in sports, and rising to the challenge of life.

During my high school years, a change of government represented by Hugo Chavez created a polarization of the country. Crime rates went through the roof and companies started to leave the country. At that point my father decided it was time for me to leave the country for a better future in the U.S. I was 16 years old, going to a new country with no friends, no English, and zero connections.

The transition to college was the hardest for me, especially because communicating and writing in English did not come naturally. I had to make friends and connections quickly to overcome isolation. I chose mechanical engineering for my major because I was good in math and physics, but I knew that wasn’t my passion. I had one of the most amazing conversations with a close acquaintance regarding business failures and monopolies over lunch. I remember it was my senior year of mechanical engineering. During that conversation my friend, currently a trader/business owner, recommended the book One Up on Wall Street by Peter Lynch. This book opened my eyes about the fund managing world and how to make money by picking stocks. I was hooked right away; I began reading every book I could get my hands on about Warren Buffet, Peter Lynch, and famous hedge fund managers. That drove me towards a new path. After I finished my mechanical engineering degree, I decided to pursue my MBA and eventually started the CFA program.


What moves did you make starting your finance career?

The recession of 2008-2009 was an exceptional period to proof my investment learnings. I remember researching companies with exponential platform opportunities as well as financial institutions with collapsing share prices. I was searching small caps and listening to CEOs talk about their businesses in conference calls. This is where my passion for small caps and exponential disruption began. I was not afraid to dig into companies’ stories and find the hidden gems. It was also a period to understand the risk of investments as many went under. I remember relatives and friends starting to ask me for advice about stocks and which companies I thought could have exponential growth. Even though my knowledge of stock analysis was expanding, the transition to finance was a difficult one. No company wanted to give an opportunity to someone with no background in investments. I was working multiple jobs while doing my MBA/CFA program. Finally, I got the call I was waiting for, an opportunity to break into the finance world with Asset Servicing Group (ASG) as a policy analyst. It was a bit of a morbid job because I had to search which life insurances were going to be more worthwhile for us (mature early). However, it was a valuable experience. My supervisor took the time to teach me the ins and outs of the world of life insurance, but the company was forced to lay me off for cost reduction reasons. I had recently passed the CFA Level 1 exam and decided to target my job search more effectively for equities research. After 3 interviews plus a research report, Exencial Wealth Advisors gave me the opportunity to be part of their team as an Investment Analyst.

The past 6 years with Exencial Wealth Advisors have been enjoyable for me. Rich Erwin has been my mentor and close friend. I am grateful to him for teaching me his view of the world of high-quality stocks. I always enjoy our conversations on investments, and while we cannot always agree on a particular investment, we always find a way to elucidate our thinking to each other. The time has flown by and it is a great experience to be a part of such an outstanding team.


What is your philosophy and approach for handling clients?

I am the Lead Analyst and Portfolio Manager for Exencial Wealth Advisors. I am in charge of co-managing the SELECT strategy and the sole portfolio manager of the Opportunity Strategy. My job requires me to be wired to the markets on a constant basis. I am like a detective trying to find the next great investments for our investors. It is fun. The learning never stops. I am constantly calling companies and reading as much as I can about new trends and opportunities for investments. My approach is to be humble, truthful, and provide clarity to our process of picking stocks for clients.


Tell us about your team and what they’re capable of?

We have an amazing team with different backgrounds that communicate on a constant basis. Our team is made of everyone from major thinkers in macroeconomics to bottom up portfolio managers. The breath of the knowledge in our team is remarkable; from Portfolio Managers with over 40 years of experience, to a Lipper award winning Portfolio Manager. We are planning to become one of the best investment teams in the world.

Mike KayesDirector of Investments

Mike began his investment career in the early 1980s in Columbus, OH as a research analyst at the Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio. He founded Exencial Wealth Advisors in 2003, and continues to utilize his extensive experience in research and fundamental analysis to play a leadership role in the firm’s overall investment process. Mike also has primary responsibility for the management of the Core Equity Portfolio. In addition, Mike writes a monthly newsletter, Willingdon Views, in which he shares his views about the economy, markets, and other topical issues.

Mike earned his BA from St. Bonaventure University in 1981 and his MBA from the University of Michigan in 1983. He is a CFA charterholder and a member of the North Carolina Society of Financial Analysts.

Mike is active in the community through his church and his participation in Lift 4:10, a one-on-one sports ministry, as well as sports mission trips to Guatemala. Mike is also the Co-Founder of Stewards of the Game, a Christian youth sports ministry. He is the author of several books including: Coaching Youth Basketball with Faith and Fundamentals, Calling Tom Canning, My Most Meaningful Bible Verses, Eleven in Heaven, The Lord’s Prayer, Slowly, and Life Lessons From Tom Taber.

Tim Courtney – Chief Investment Officer

Tim Courtney serves as Chief Investment Officer of Exencial Wealth Advisors and chairs the investment committee. He attained the Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) designation in 2005 and has more than 15 years of experience advising individuals, corporations and organizations on investments and markets, tax planning and retirement.

Much of Tim’s time is spent meeting with clients, formulating and advising on client strategies, and performing investment and portfolio research. Prior to Exencial, Tim worked for Fidelity Investments in Dallas, TX. He graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.

Tim has shared his expertise as a guest on CNBC and FOX Business, and his research has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, AARP Magazine and elsewhere.

Tim is married to Jennifer and they live in Edmond with their four children: Ben, Abby, Susannah and Amelia. They enjoy traveling as a family and spending time participating in sports, such as tennis and volleyball.

Rich Erwin – Senior Portfolio Manager

Rich Erwin founded IAM, the first investment advisory firm in Plano, Texas. He served as its President and Chief Investment Officer until merging with Exencial.
Rich earned a B.A. from Principia College (1973) and an M.B.A. from Babson College (1978). Prior to founding IAM, he spent 10 years in Boston, MA serving a large charitable organization as Senior Investment Analyst, Portfolio Manager, and Trust Officer. He was responsible for a security analysis team and the management of sizable institutional portfolios and personal trusts.

In his current role, Rich again is focusing on his favorite areas of activity — investment analysis, portfolio management, and mentoring in the S.E.L.E.C.T. security analysis process he developed.

Rich has been active in the local community and beyond serving on boards and committees for non-profit and service organizations. His personal interests include fishing, bicycling, hiking, boating, gardening, church work, family and friends. He has been married to his wife, Susan, for over 30 years and has two adult children.

Randy Farina – Senior Portfolio Manager

Randy joined Exencial in August of 2020 as a Senior Portfolio Manager for the Core and International Strategies.  Randy has an extensive background in global equites with over 20 years’ experience as an analyst and portfolio manager.  Randy also has experience in client service partnering with both institutional and retail relationship managers.

Before Exencial, Randy was a Portfolio Manager and Analyst for 16 years on the Global Small Cap Team for Putnam Investments.  Randy helped implement a structured investment process focusing on intrinsic value.  During his tenure at Putnam Randy also developed and managed an apprentice program to train and develop junior analysts.  Randy most recently comes from Westwood Global in Boston where he was a Senior Research Analyst focusing on an International Large Cap Strategy.

Randy has a Master of Science in Finance from Boston College and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.  Randy is a CFA charterholder.

Randy enjoys playing basketball on the weekends and spending time with his wife, Tina and children Marco and Francesca.

Pete Trontis – Senior Portfolio Manager

Pete joined Exencial Wealth Advisors in 2017 as a portfolio manager for the Enhanced Yield strategy. Prior to joining Willingdon, he was a research analyst for Horizon Investments where he focused on global equity research and supported the firm’s trading and performance reporting operations. Prior to Horizon Investments, Pete was a Market Risk analyst for Wells Fargo Securities. He began his career as an analyst for Liquid Credit Products at Bank of America.

Pete holds a BS in Finance and a BS in Economics from DePaul University where he graduated cum laude. He also holds an MBA from Duke University where he graduated in the top 10 percent of his class and was designated a Fuqua scholar. He is a CFA charterholder and a member of the CFA Society of North Carolina.

Jon Burckett St. Lawrence – Senior Portfolio Manager

Jean-Bernard (Jon) Burckett-St. Laurent joined Exencial Wealth Advisors in 2019 as Senior Portfolio Manager for the Exencial Wealth Advisors Options Strategy. He has over 17 years’ experience in derivatives trading across exchange-listed stocks, ADR’s, ETF’s / ETN’s, futures and indices including US equities, commodities, emerging markets and foreign developed markets. Jon has significant expertise in all aspects of options trading from developing strategies to automating trade execution to portfolio risk management. Prior to joining Exencial Wealth Advisors, Jon co-founded a proprietary trading firm where he worked as managing member and options market-maker under the umbrella of Cutler Group LP. Previously, he worked at Bluefin Trading LLC as an options market-maker and specialist. He started his career on the floor of the American Stock Exchange in 2001. Jon received a BA in History from Harvard College.

Jeffrey Hibbeler – Fixed Income Manager

Jeff joined Exencial Wealth Advisors in 2018 as a Senior Portfolio Manager for Fixed Income. He brings an extensive fixed income background and over 20 years of experience in the investment management industry.

Previous to joining Willingdon, Jeff was a Portfolio Manager for 11 years on the Core Fixed Income Team for Columbia Threadneedle Investments, managing portfolios for high-net-worth and institutional clients. Prior to his fixed income role, Jeff was the Institutional Performance Measurement Manager for a predecessor organization of Columbia Threadneedle, where he was responsible for managing performance reporting and attribution analysis across all investment platforms. Jeff began his career as a Performance Measurement Service Manager at Infovisa, Inc.

Jeff received a B.S. in Business Administration from Nebraska Wesleyan University, where he graduated with high distinction. Jeff holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and is a member of the CFA North Carolina Society.

Jeff and his wife, April, have two daughters and are active in their community primarily through their church and support of the Ada Jenkins Center, a not-for-profit organization helping those in poverty gain economic independence. Jeff has also coached for several seasons in the Cornelius-Davidson girls basketball league.

Nicholas Piselli – Investment Analyst

Nick joined Exencial in January of 2020 as an Investment Analyst for Core and International Strategies. Focusing on intrinsic valuation, he aids in the research and the decision-making process for equities. Before Exencial, Nick interned as an Equity Analyst at Willingdon Wealth Management operating under the guidance of senior portfolio managers.

Nick has an Environmental Economics degree from Colgate University where he graduated Cum Laude and played varsity lacrosse.

Today, Nick enjoys exercising and spending time with his brother, Matt.

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