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Alan Ungar

The reason I got into this profession

My favorite mantra is “Every problem is an opportunity” and I’ve lived it. My wife and I manufactured and sold women’s accessories and garments for 15 years. The first 14 were terrific but the 15th was incredibly traumatic. From riches to rags. Not wanting others to share my fate, I became a Certified Financial Planner™ professional 36 years ago. For years, I worked solo, building a successful practice. But two decades later I joined forces with my friend Mark Sakanashi, who would be my partner and successor. Together, we become experts in stock options and co-wrote Your Employee Stock Options. Next to my wife, he was the most significant relationship in my business life. One day at lunch Mark complained about a pain in his back. Six months later, he died from colon cancer. I lost a friend and I lost a partner. I also lost the person I trusted to take care of my clients when I left the business. To deal with my grief, I became a Certified Grief Specialist, which not only helped me mourn, but also made me more empathetic with clients and friends who had suffered a significant loss. Business continued to be good, but I still had no idea how I would ever retire. I had three criteria when it came to choosing a successor. They needed to share my investment philosophy and they needed to be fee-only financial planners. Finally, they had to be willing to have me continue working. Fortunately, I found Abacus, which met those criteria and more. What an opportunity!

One thing I’m doing to help the planet

My wife and I practice what we preach—drive a Prius, recycle, turn the water off when brushing our teeth, etc.

Outside of work my passions include

I am learning to play old time traditional banjo music and recently got my scuba certification. I also read incessantly, work out regularly, play at golf, am something of a political junkie and love to dance with my wife.

One goal I’m saving for

To spend a year going to all the bluegrass and traditional music festivals around the good old USA and spending time getting to know the locals.

The primary way I’m advancing my career knowledge

I read all the financial journals I can stand, participate in industry study groups, attend industry conventions, and listen to my colleagues and clients.


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