Our Team

We've assembled what we think is a group of the brightest and most caring financial planners and investment professionals in the country. They each have an interesting personal story and reason they got into this business. We thought you'd like to get to know them a little better. (take a look at our NAPFA financial planner interview)
Brent Kessel
Founder and Co-CEO

The reason I got into this profession:
To understand why I founded Abacus, we need to travel back in time almost two decades. I’m 27 years old, and I’m a mortgage broker sitting in a converted apartment building in Santa Monica. One of the loans I’m trying to arrange has just gone down in flames, because a bank decided to change their underwriting requirements mid-stream, and months of my work is wasted. I call my girlfriend Britta. “Let’s go to India – we’ve been talking about it for two years, and I need to get out of here.”

Flash forward six weeks. I’m sitting outside the Central Telegraph Office in the sweltering sun of Mysore in Southern india. I feel despondent about returning to my life as a broker. I think of the single family tract development in Lancaster I’m trying to finance, and the apartment buildings in Vegas, and the Super 8 Motel in Kettleman City, and I picture lying on my deathbed, with these dilapidated buildings as my life’s legacy.

My life must mean more than this. I’ve been a student of money psychology for years, and have just read a book called “Money and the Meaning of Life” which feels incredibly intriguing. What career would allow me to help people explore their relationship to money, help them make conscious choices about how to spend, earn, save & give, rather than be driven by unconscious habits or societal expectations? I have no idea.

Upon my return, I set out to interview a variety of people who might help to guide me; investment bankers, the CEO of a major life insurance company, a stockbroker, several therapists, my yoga teacher, and two people who call themselves Certified Financial Planners, a term I hadn’t yet heard. All of these interviews compel me to get my CFP as well. Upon passing my Board exams, I decide to send out a postcard announcement inviting people to congratulate me by sending over their tax returns and 401k statements for a financial check-up. Within a week, five people have taken me up on the offer, and the Los Angeles office of Abacus is born.
Outside of work, my passions include
Hanging out with my family, snowboarding, African drumming, international travel, yoga, alleviating poverty, watching college football and basketball, stand-up paddle-boarding, and silent meditation retreats.
One goal I'm saving for
For me: a series of international trips with my family to really experience living in other cultures for several weeks at a time.

For others: to fund ten wells bringing fresh-water to 2,500 people in Africa, allowing the women and girls to avoid four hours of dangerous walking each day to and from a contaminated stream for their water needs.
The primary way I'm advancing my career knowledge
I’m presently intrigued by the intricacies of fear and anxiety as they seem to plague so many in the West, including me, despite our relative affluence. I’m studying a wide variety of disciplines including psychology and neuroscience, ancient Tibetan meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises. Even though these disciplines arose during different centuries, there’s remarkable consistency in their explanations of what leads to fear and anxiety, and what alleviates it

Essential Planning
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Sort Team by:
First Name
Last Name
Location
Position
Our Team :
David DeWolf
Partner and CFO
Los Angeles

I was on the corporate fast track, working as a CFO—slaving away for The Man but enjoying it because it Meet David >>

Darius Gagne
Partner and CIO
Los Angeles
As far back as I can remember I have been asking questions such as “who are we?”, “why are we Meet Darius >>
Neela Bushnell
Financial Advisor
Los Angeles
My dad created and sold several large companies in the 70's, netting multi-millions of dollars. Through some bad financial advice Meet Neela >>
Greg Aloia
Financial Advisor
Philadelphia
As a young lawyer, I found that the adversarial and confrontational nature of practice was neither in tune with my Meet Greg >>
Zivia Beniflah
Client Service Associate
Philadelphia
As a wife and a mother of five children, my primary role for many years was that of nurturer, caretaker, Meet Zivia >>
Barrett Porter
Financial Advisor and Partner
Los Angeles
One moment that I'll never forget from my childhood was when my mom suggested to my dad that a college Meet Barrett >>
Adam Salas
Trader
Los Angeles
I was very fortunate, and extremely grateful, that my parents were able to pay for my education and allow me Meet Adam >>
Spencer Sherman
Founder and Co-CEO
Bay Area
I grew up in Queens, New York. About 90% of my classmates were Jewish. So when I took Meet Spencer >>
Angela Spirrison
Client Service Associate
Los Angeles
As a very young single mother raising two girls, I didn’t know what to do, so I did anything and Meet Angela >>
Brent Kessel
Founder and Co-CEO
Los Angeles
To understand why I founded Abacus, we need to travel back in time almost two decades. I’m 27 years old, Meet Brent >>
Barbara Wolf
Financial Advisor
Philadelphia
During college, I gradually began to realize that I would be on my own financially very soon. Perhaps it Meet Barbara >>
Ericka Neagley
Client Service Associate
Philadelphia
Ever since I have been working, my jobs have revolved around finance. In high school I sat on the Native Meet Ericka >>
Michelle Dench, CFP®
Financial Advisor
Bay Area
After nearly ten years in the world of corporate banking I felt drained and used up. There was no personal Meet Michelle >>
J.D. Bruce
President, CPA, PFS
Los Angeles
My father was a hippie, so naturally I became a CPA. Being a hippie criminal defense attorney, my father fought Meet J.D. >>
Annemarie Happee
Client Service Associate
Los Angeles
I was raised by a very young, single father. When I was three, my father and I moved in Meet Annemarie >>
Brian Canning
Financial Advisor
Los Angeles
I remember I was 9 years old and racing into my house, ready to open the case that held the Meet Brian >>
Jason Cole
Financial Advisor and Partner
Philadelphia
I took my late grandpa Jesse's advice by majoring in accounting at Penn State. He said "you will always be able Meet Jason >>
Kari Jean Glosser
Director of Advisor Support
Los Angeles
As a young girl, I discovered that even smart people can make bad financial decisions. My father is one of the Meet Kari >>
Kelly Acheson
New Client Steward
Bay Area
Coming Soon! Meet Kelly >>
Charles Kochel
Financial Advisor
Los Angeles
I am a father, husband and friend.

My financial services practice opened in February 1999 managing a successful practice Meet Charles >>
Jessica Lu
Director of Operations
Los Angeles

My identity is deeply rooted in my family history. My grandparents were raised in luxury in pre-communist China. That abruptly Meet Jessica >>

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