While millions mourn the loss of Fast and Furious film star Paul Walker, most fans of the popular film series know little about the driver of the red Porsche Carrera GT that crashed in an L.A. suburb on Saturday: that driver was Walker’s friend and financial advisor Roger Rodas.
But the demise, as a Facebook post puts it, of “the guy who was in the car with Paul Walker who isn’t being recognized because he wasn’t famous,” has indeed been acknowledged: More than 636,000 people liked the post, and nearly 87,000 have shared it as of Monday morning, an indicator that the fatal accident has touched many.
While Rodas wasn’t famous in the way that Walker was, he evidently had a wide impact as a Merrill Lynch financial advisor.
A media spokesman for Bank of America Merrill Lynch told ThinkAdvisor that Rodas “made the Barron’s Top 1,000 Advisors list for the last three years.”
The spokeman, Bill Halden, added that “Roger worked for Bank of America for over 20 years. Given that he was 38, he spent his whole career at Bank of America and became a financial advisor in 1997.
He literally worked his way up from an entry-level position at the bank at age 18. We’re deeply saddened by this news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to the family of Mr. Walker,” Halden said.
Rodas’ association with Walker was the subject of an article on Merrill’s wealth management website, which says the two men met at a California race track. Apparently their enthusiasm for racing extended even to the car Rodas was driving, which Walker had previously owned — a Porsche GT3.
They struck up a friendship, and Walker’s occasional questions about finances led to a formal client relationship that began in 2007.
“The first item on their agenda was reorganizing Walker’s portfolio, a hodgepodge of personal investments,” the Merrill article, written two years ago, says. “Rodas suggested a diversified, relatively conservative portfolio of stocks, bonds, cash and alternative investments, aimed mostly at preserving capital. And because an actor’s income is sporadic, each time Walker completes another film, he and Rodas meet to re-evaluate his financial strategy to help make sure his long-term goals stay on track.
Paul Walker was well known for his charitable foundation, Reach Out Worldwide, which provided post-disaster relief in places like Haiti and Chile.
But news reports indicate that Rodas had his own prior experience in global charitable relief before he helped Walker set up Reach Out Worldwide in 2010.
Rodas, a Salvadoran immigrant to the United States, reportedly created a foundation to help widows and orphans in his native land.
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority public records show that the financial advisor, who worked from Merrill’s branch in Glendale, a close-in L.A. suburb, also disclosed his involvement in several outside business ventures related to his passion for racing.