Jeff Camarda

Meet Dr. Jeff Camarda:
Firm Chairman, CEO, Portfolio Management Board Chair


Previous Certifications: CFP®, CHFC®, CLU®, MSFS®, CFS®, BCM™


Forbes ContributorFollow my column here

Read blog articles by Dr. Jeff Camarda

What do you do at Camarda Wealth?

My main job is to make sure all the pieces run smoothly to help clients realize their financial goals. I have a real passion for excellence, and to under promise and over deliver.  As CEO, I am responsible to keep the big picture in focus and drive toward the high-impact areas. As Portfolio Board Chair, I am responsible to design and manage a disciplined investment process that targets handsome returns with prudent risk management.  As Chief Wealth Planner, I design systems and plans that help weave all the wealth pieces – taxes, estate planning, trust planning, investments, asset protection, retirement, etc. – together to achieve what we call “total wealth health.”  When everything pulls together, the wealth needle can move very strongly.

What are your credentials/past experience, for working in your position?

I started as a broker back in NY in 1984, and while I did quite well I thought more could be done for clients, and began a deep study of wealth planning that continues to this day. Beginning in 1990, I completed the Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Financial Consultant®, Chartered Life Underwriter®, Chartered Financial Analyst®, Certified Funds Specialist®, Board Certified, Mutual Funds , EA (IRS Tax Expert), as well as a Master’s in Financial Planning and a PhD in Financial and Retirement Planning. This has been a real evolution for me and our firm, from a low-knowledge, commission product sales profile in the 80’s, to a really advanced expert capability that really puts clients first.

What is something the investing public has to deal with that you want to fix?

I want to make the financial advisor industry a real profession with high education and deep duty to clients’ wealth health!  We have worked very hard to practice this way,  but the lack of “financial advisor” professionalism, education, and duty to put clients first is a problem in our industry.  Many advisors have very little training and are allowed to put their own compensation ahead of clients’ best interests, and most consumers have very little appreciation of this…and it can cost them dearly!  I am very passionate about changing this through my academic research.   Barron’s recently interviewed me about this

What do you like about working at Camarda Wealth?

Working with and for the clients. We enjoy a very loving, family-style relationship with clients, some of whom have been with us for decades. I am really proud of our high client retention rate, and think this comes from two main reasons 1) we really care about them and their families, and develop deep relationships with frequent contact, and 2) the depth of planning expertise we bring to the table. Make no mistake, our clients our clients stay because they think they get more from us than what they pay in fees. They know there are many other advisor choices. We set it up this way on purpose, when we converted to fiduciary/fee only back in the 90’s. Instead of getting a big commission up front, we switched to getting a small fee each quarter. Clients are under know obligation to keep paying us, and they see that fee on every statement so they know what they’re paying. But this way, we have to earn their business every day, and only make a lot of money if they stay a long time. This has been a very successful formula for us, and when we tell new clients we think they’ll “be amazed and delighted at how good we are, and how much we care about you,” we really mean it. This approach lets us build very deep, caring bonds with our family of clients, while at the same time forcing us to stay focused on raising the bar in terms of service and expertise. I just love it!

Favorite Podcasts / Books:

The Emyth, Think and Grow Rich, The Count of Monte Cristo

What is your background?

I grew up on Long Island, near NYC.  I guess that’s where my love of boating started, I spent many summers “cruising” Long Island Sound in my little outboard.  I also had a deep love of camping and the woods, was a Boy Scout, and spent several summers backpacking the White Mountains in New Hampshire before going to college. That’s probably why I picked SUNY/Plattsburg as a school, to be near the Adirondack Mountains, despite my Dad’s encouragement to apply to Cornell with the Regents Scholarship I had. Ironically, once in college the world opened up, and I did maybe one backpacking trip! I had a very deep fascination with science since I was a very little boy, and wound up majoring in Chemistry. This was some of the best training of my life, and the principles of hard science really taught me how to due serious quantitative analysis, skills which served me well later in investment analysis, designing business systems, and in my PhD research. I should also say I grew up in a very Italian NY family, grandparents in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and I am proud to say my lifetime love of pasta has been passed on to my two sons here in Florida, who demand Mama Kim’s gravy every Sunday!

What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?

More than I can get to, especially since I work nearly all the time! Let’s see…I love reading and have an extensive collection of classics, mostly fiction, and am currently reading Conrad’s Nostromo , Boccaccio’s  Decameron,  Rice’s Vampire Chronicles (which I picked up again after my sons and I began watching Interview with the Vampire).   I also like to stay current with popular science, especially astrophysics, and am also reading Prof. Kaku’s “The Future of Humanity.”   I also love movies – including the classics! – and have put together a large selection for family and friends.   I am especially happy to see my sons develop a discriminating  appreciation for the best of this medium.  

Boating has been a big passion of my since I was a kid, and especially since I moved to Florida in the late 80’s.  Since then, we’ve been all over, from the Florida Panhandle to the Keys, and from Jacksonville to the Bahamas many times. I still remember the our second of many crossings to the Bahamas, when our first son Dylan was maybe 6 months old, and we forgot to bring a passport for him. I had to argue with the customs agent that we were not trying to smuggle babies into the Bahamas, and only finally convinced her after showing her pictures of Kim and Dylan in the delivery room! 

I didn’t do as much Scouting as I would have liked as a boy, but made sure my two sons had the opportunity. I’ve enjoyed volunteering as a Den Leader, Merit Badge Counselor, and Council Board Member for many years, and was very proud and gratified to help mentor my oldest son Dylan to Eagle at 14, and help my younger son Dante on the same path.

I’ve always been a handy fellow, as far back as I can remember. I still recall going to Sears with my Dad, sometimes just to play in the vast toy store that was the Sears tool department back then. It was huge, and they had everything! We built a lot of stuff together, and I really learned a lot about how things work from that experience. I like working on stuff in my shop, collecting and restoring antiques, and just puttering around when I can find the time.  

But mostly I enjoy my family, from my 91 year old dad to my youngest grandson. With a wonderful wife, five kids, two grandkids, and lots of family gatherings, I truly feel blessed. Without family, none of the other stuff really matters!

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