Meet Your Allegiant Team: Paul Cantor

DSC01844 PaulCantor 72DPIPaul B. Cantor CFA / CFP® / AIF®, Principal, Chief Operating Officer, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™

I arrived at Allegiant in a somewhat circuitous fashion. I had come to Sarasota to visit my dear friends Marty and Chris. We have been friends since our college days at the University of Rochester. Despite distance and careers, we had always stayed in touch. I had recently retired from a 30-year career in Investment Management on the institutional side of Wall Street. I was a card-carrying member of Workaholics Anonymous but had decided to leave it all behind. I had spent the last 20 plus years working at hedge funds as a trader, analyst, and portfolio manager. Operating at the highest levels of financial competition had been professionally and financially rewarding, but I did not want to become the richest person in the graveyard. So, I left Manhattan, where I had grown up and spent my entire career, and moved to the East Coast of Florida.  

I was 50 years old and hoping that the move would be positive for my wife and me. During the visit, Marty asked me what I was going to do when I grew up. We talked shop, and after many months of discussions we hatched the idea for me to join Allegiant. It was an opportunity for me to work with a friend to help grow a business, mentor the next generation of our professionals, and help create the foundations for a company that would excel and grow long after its founders - the partners at Kerkering Barberio, Marty Kossoff, and Conni Arledge (who retired last year from Allegiant) – were gone. We wanted the company to have a strong culture of caring and compassion that functioned with preeminent professional excellence in the wealth advisor role. How could I pass up an opportunity and challenge like that? In May of 2014, I officially started as Chief Operating Officer of Allegiant Private Advisors, and it’s been one of the best decisions in my life.  

At the beginning of my career, I had decided that I didn’t want to work directly with individuals. I didn’t want to be responsible for an individual’s life savings. If I made some terrible error and lost their money, I would be devasted. Additionally, salesmanship was not part of my DNA, which was needed to be successful in that role. Fast forward 35+ years later and I’ve gained the experience and confidence to know that I am a capable money manager and working directly with our clients has been a real joy. In the institutional world that exists between large corporate investors and investment firms, the relationships I experienced were often almost adversarial. Today, as a marked contrast, it is a pleasure to work with our clients, to know that we are helping them, and to see the appreciation and feel their kindness. Combine that with working with a group of exceptionally talented and caring individuals that compose the Allegiant team and you can understand why it has been such a great decision.  

On a personal front, sadly, the move to Florida was a bad one for my marriage. I went through a painful divorce in 2015 and decided to move full time to Sarasota in January of 2016. I had grown up in a dysfunctional family and left home when I was 15. I was shy and introverted. I knew that I wanted to be the opposite of my parents - they were closed, distant, financially irresponsible, and quite honestly negligent. So, I became open, caring, giving, and passionate about financial literacy. I’m a hugger! Caring for friends and family is central to my being. I recognize daily how fortunate I am to have ended up on the “right side of the tracks.” It is for this reason that I’m actively involved in the community. I like to give back and help whenever I can. You can see the appeal of mentoring others when it was so absent in my own upbringing. Today, I’m proud to be a Board Member of All Faiths Food Bank, as well as a Member of the Finance Committee, and serve as Investment Committee Chair. What is more fundamental than the need for nourishing food, especially for children? I myself had learned to cook out of self-defense. I am active as a Member of the Finance Committee of the Community Foundation of Sarasota and their 2 Gen Taskforce. Most recently, I’ve also become a Board Member of the Sarasota Ballet and have joined their Finance and Investment Committees. Ballet is an art form that I’ve always loved. I’m honored to be able to try to help such a world-class organization. Financial Literacy is where I spend the most of my volunteer time. I teach, mentor, and lecture about Financial Literacy whenever I can. I’ve worked with parents at the Visible Men Academy, lectured at Booker High School, presented to the Sarasota Young Professional Group, a program of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and mentored additional small groups of young professionals. Currently, I am working with the Education Foundation of Sarasota to help create a pilot program to teach Financial Literacy 101 in our school system. It is a skillset that is critically important for all and sorely lacking for many.  

As a relatively new resident of Sarasota, I feel really privileged to be able to participate in such a philanthropically-inclined community. The caliber of the people here, the natural beauty, and the wonderful cultural institutions we have make it a truly unique place to live. Most importantly, I’ve met my soul mate and love of my life, Michelle, who with her two daughters and two cats have created the family that I never had. When coupled with the Allegiant team, a joyful work experience, and rewarding volunteer opportunities, this is an extraordinarily happy time for me.