Young Professionals
LifeManaged has about 100 clients and roughly $62 million in assets under management. Panagiotakopoulos said most of his clients from Pathlight followed him to his new firm, and that his practice has added a number of new clients during its short existence. The client base consists of a sizable number of business owners, along with high-income professionals such as physicians who might work in a big group but technically are working on their own as group partners. He also works with orthodontists, dentists and commercial real estate brokers who might be working at big companies but are actually 1099 employees.

“We proactively engage our clients’ CPA to determine how we can best put money away for retirement while saving them a hefty amount on taxes,” he said. “By understanding their earnings and self-employment taxes, we find the optimal strategies to reduce their taxable income and defer capital gains, or implement mega-backdoor Roth 401(k)s.”

Many of these highly paid professionals are in their 30s or early 40s and don’t have much in retirement savings because they’re balancing various needs that could include paying off massive student loans, buying a home or figuring out how to pay for their children’s education.

“That’s the ideal market we’re going after,” Panagiotakopoulos said. “We’ve been doing more monthly retainer fees for financial planning only, and we’ve found there’s a segment of people making great money but they don’t have a financial advisor because they don’t have any [retirement] money. They think that because they don’t have money they can’t hire someone.”

He sees these folks as the type of clients who can help grow his firm as they grow their wealth. 

Greek Hoops
Panagiotakopoulos was a walk-on basketball player while majoring in finance and management at the University of Northern Colorado, whose basketball team competes at the NCAA Division I level. While there, he played point guard and won accolades as a scholar athlete.

After he graduated, he was part of a team of seven Division I Greek-American basketball players chosen to scrimmage against the Greek national team. “That’s how I wound up playing in Greece,” Panagiotakopoulos explained. “It wasn’t on my mind to play in Europe, but when I was in Greece a couple of scouts asked if I wanted to sign a contract and stay there to play.”

He signed with a club in Thessaloniki. He was no stranger to Greece: His father was a Greek immigrant who moved from Athens to Washington, D.C., where he learned English and later attended George Washington University. The father later transferred to Arizona State University, stayed in Phoenix and eventually got into the restaurant business.

“The Greek culture was always very important to me,” Panagiotakopoulos said. “I’ve been involved with Greek dancing and helping run the Greek festival [the Original Phoenix Greek Festival], which finances the operations of our parish the whole year.”

He played just one and a half seasons in Greece before knee and ankle injuries ended his professional athletic career. But it was an eventful life experience.

“In my first home game we had about a 5,800-person capacity gym, and it was packed,” Panagiotakopoulos recalled. “There was a mushroom cloud of smoke in the arena, and we’re playing basketball and breathing this stuff.”