Princeton Financial Partners join RBC from UBS

May 15, 2021

A billion-dollar quartet of financial advisors including a former mayor with a specialty in socially responsible investing dropped their wirehouse of ten years for RBC Wealth Management.

Advisors Michael Gara, Bruce Berman, Chad Goerner and Dustin Illgen of Princeton Financial Partners left UBS for RBC’s branch in Princeton, New Jersey. The team managed $1.6 billion in client assets with their former firm, and, as mayor of Princeton Township from 2006 to 2012, Goerner led the merger of the township and the borough into a single municipality in 2011.

The team was searching for more autonomy and flexibility, as well as enhanced technology, according to an emailed statement from the advisors. The seven-employee team officially joined RBC on May 7, according to FINRA BrokerCheck. Given their team’s size, they completed “extensive” due diligence before making a decision, the advisors said.

“We considered all of our options,” Gara, Berman, Goerner and Illgen’s team said in the statement. “We wanted to make sure that our clients were going to experience an enhanced service model, coupled with a strong financial institution parent company, for both the institutional consulting and lending components.”

Representatives for UBS declined to comment.

With 23 years of industry experience and prior tenures at Morgan Stanley, Wachovia and Prudential, Gara serves as managing director of the team. He also has a niche focus on clients who raise and buy horses. At 39 years with the same four previous firms, Berman boasts the longest career in the industry on the team. In addition, the practice includes Senior Business Associate Jessica Ovrutsky, Registered Client Associates Claudia Peppard and Senior Client Associate Michele Nitti.

They report to Scott Ceniccola, director of RBC’s Philadelphia complex.

“They are a seasoned team with the insight and skill to manage the complex needs of their clients,” Ceniccola said in a statement.

Princeton Financial Partners

From left to right, Princeton Financial Partners consists of Dustin Illgen, Jessica Ovrutsky, Chad Goerner, Michael Gara, Bruce Berman, Claudia Peppard and Michele Nitti.

RBC Wealth Management

Goerner completed a complicated transition in his onetime public service role. He credits his time in the mayor’s office with helping his leadership and project management skills, which he has applied to institutional consulting and retirement plan services for business. The practice consults on more than $5 billion in assets across 401(k)s, HSAs, defined benefit plans, endowments and foundations. He wrote a book in 2017 about the merger of the township and borough called “A Tale of Two Tigers: The Historic Consolidation of the Princetons.”

The consolidation led to savings of millions of dollars from the city’s budget and a lower tax growth rate “than any neighboring municipality,” he wrote in a July 2018 op-ed for the Newark Star-Ledger.

“A single, consolidated Princeton has a much improved level of responsiveness in times of crisis as it can better marshal its resources without the intervening power struggles of two separate governments,” Goerner wrote. “In addition, it has avoided significant capital costs as it now shares real estate and avoided having to build or renovate a new facility for a nonprofit that it houses.”