Cotto & Padovani Financial Strategies Group
Career Began: 1987
Home Base: New York City and Mt. Kisco, N.Y.
Civic Affiliations: Operation Smile, future-care planning for families of children with disabilities
A lot of advisors build teams — but not quite like this one. How else to explain the driving principles of the Cotto & Padovani Financial Strategies Group? We want to add value to our clients. We want to provide for all of our families. We want to make sure that, when we leave it, we know we did some work on this earth that made a difference.
When James Cotto moved from Merrill Lynch to Wachovia Securities in 2001, he and partner Paul Padovani decided it was time to recreate their practice.
“The business we run today is an effort of us reinventing ourselves,” says the 44-year-old Cotto, who has $250 million in assets under management. Among the questions the partners asked: What do we want to be for our clients? What kinds of clients are we looking for? What types of services are we willing to provide? “Once we crystallized that, we hired the team to do it,” Cotto adds. “It’s been a leap of faith.”
Cotto, the son of Puerto Rican immigrants, manages roughly 260 client relationships as well as 100 supplemental needs trusts for the families of children with disabilities. He doesn’t believe in a minimum account size. “I don’t judge people by the size of their wallets,” he says. “If people have integrity and value, we would like to work with them.” Clients include entertainers, athletes, business owners, corporate officers and high-net-worth individuals.
Concetta Stefani, a 44-year-old real estate agent with three children, hooked up with Cotto five years ago — but not without testing him. “I needed to meet that certain person who could relate to me and my husband and understand what we were trying to do. I needed to feel him, know who he was, what he’s about,” she says.