Our People

Heart.  Integrity.  Excellence.  Respect.

These are the key principles that guide our advisors and support staff.  We seek to make a difference in the lives of others. We do what is right, and never shy away from delivering honest data and opinions. We maintain the highest standards of accuracy, privacy and security. And above all we honor your aspirations and choices.

Steve Ciepiela

Founder, CFP®, CRC®, AIF™, NSSA®

Meet Steve

Steve founded Charles Stephen in 1983 with the late Charles Severino. Their shared vision was to help clients manage their finances with the goal of helping them live their lives the way they wanted. Together Chuck and Steve grew the firm into one of the leading financial planning firms in the Southwest. 

Steve has been a financial planner for over 40 years, one of the very first in the United States to be licensed as a Certified Financial Planner (license no. 70). His depth of experience in financial and income planning, retirement planning, investment strategies, risk management, and business succession planning make him uniquely suited to create unique paths to security for any professional and personal circumstance.

In the wake of Charles Severino’s sudden and untimely passing in 2004, Steve wrote “When a Partner Dies”, using his own experience as a framework for other business owners with transition and succession planning. Steve’s story and expertise have been featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and other business publications.

Born and raised in Chicago, Steve came West in the 1970s and played football at the United States Air Force Academy and the University of New Mexico, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration. He and his wife, Marian, have been deeply involved in the Albuquerque community, where they raised their three children.

In 2021, Steve turned over day-to-day management of Charles Stephen to his son, Adam Ciepiela, and Kelly Famiglietta, while remaining as a guiding force in the firm’s growth and advising a select group of clients.

LICENSES AND CERTIFICATIONS

  • Certified Financial Planner®
  • Certified Retirement Counselor®
  • Accredited Investment Fiduciary™
  • Series 7
  • Series 66
  • National Social Security Advisor®
  • Investment Advisor Representative, the AmeriFlex Group

AWARDS AND CITATIONS

  • Top 200 financial planners, Money Magazine
  • Top wealth manager, Wealth Manager Magazine
  • Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce Harry E. Kinney Good Neighbor Award
  • Erna S. Fergusson Award, University of New Mexico
  • Zia Award, University of New Mexico

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

  • Ambassador and Instructor, Junior Achievement New Mexico
  • Vice Chairman, Lobo Development Corporation
  • Former Board Chairman, Roadrunner Food Bank
  • Former President, UNM Alumni Association

Adam Ciepiela

Partner, CRC®, AIF™, NSSA®

Meet Adam

Adam heads the wealth management practice at Charles Stephen, working with individuals and families to create the strategies and structures required for preserving and growing wealth. He also directs the firm’s business operations and relationships with third-party asset managers and other vendors.

Adam has a special interest in advising younger people to start planning early and takes every opportunity to speak to groups about financial wellness and security.

LICENSES AND CERTIFICATIONS

  • Certified Retirement Counselor®
  • Accredited Investment Fiduciary™
  • Series 7
  • Series 66
  • National Social Security Advisor®
  • Investment Advisor Representative, the AmeriFlex Group
  • Behavioral Financial Advisor™

AWARDS AND CITATIONS

  • 40 Under 40, Albuquerque Business First
  • AssetMark Community Inspiration Award

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

  • Board Chairman, Junior Achievement New Mexico
  • Board of Directors, Albuquerque Museum Foundation
Kelly Famiglietta headshot photo

Kelly Famiglietta

Partner, CFP®, AIF™, NSSA®

Meet Kelly

Kelly is a partner and head of qualified group retirement plans at Charles Stephen. As a fiduciary, Kelly’s sole duty is to act in the interests of her clients and their employees.

She joined the firm in 1997 and today monitors investments, manages relationships, and educates group plan participants about achieving financial wellness and independence.

Kelly serves on the National Association of Plan Advisors D.C. Fly-In Forum, a group that confers with Congress on legislative and regulatory interests and concerns of the financial planning industry. Kelly earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico. 

LICENSES AND CERTIFICATIONS

  • Kelly was one of the first 200 people in the United States to earn the Certified 401(k) Professional® designation.
  • Series 7 General Securities Registered Representative
  • Series 63 Uniform Securities Agent
  • Series 66 Uniform Combined State Law License
  • Investment Advisor Representative with The AmeriFlex Group
  • Accredited Pension Administrator
  • Accredited Investment Fiduciary
  • National Social Security Advisor
  • Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor
  • Certified CFP® Professional

AWARDS AND CITATIONS

  • Top Defined Contribution Advisor (2012) in the United States by 401k Wire
  • Top Retirement Advisors (2019, 2020) by Financial Times
  • Top Women Advisors (2016, 2019, 2020 and 2023) by the National Association of Plan Advisors
  • Women of Influence (2017) by Albuquerque Business First
  • AssetMark Community Inspiration Award (2018)

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

  • Board of Directors, Albuquerque chapter of Campfire USA
  • Board of Directors, Central New Mexico Community College (CNM)
  • Board of Directors, Cloud Dancers Therapeutic Horsemanship
  • Community Council, National Dance Institute of New Mexico
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Kevin A. Brown

Financial Advisor, CLU®, ChFC®

Meet Kevin

With over 35 years as an advisor, Kevin has taken a particular interest in helping those who make their living in the “You’re On Your Own” (YOYO) economy — sole proprietors and other small business owners without finance or HR departments to help plan their financial futures, along with employees changing jobs who have to realign their retirement plans to suit new employer benefit packages. Before joining the team at Charles Stephen, Kevin headed his own financial advising firm, which gave him unique insight into the opportunities and challenges facing business owners. A native of Roswell, Kevin graduated with a degree in finance from the University of New Mexico. He and his wife raised their three sons in Albuquerque. Kevin enjoys drumming, cycling, learning Spanish and helping the UNM Foundation raise money for the Presidential Scholar program which helped him attend UNM.

Find out more about Kevin and his approach to financial planning here.

LICENSES AND CERTIFICATIONS

  • Chartered Life Underwriter®
  • Chartered Financial Consultant®
  • Series 6 Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products Representative
  • Series 7 General Securities Registered Representative
  • Series 63 Uniformed Securities Agent State Law

    Jonathan Stoner

    Financial Advisor, BFA™

    Meet Jonathan

    Jonathan has more than 15 years of financial industry experience. Originally from Oklahoma, he has worked for top financial companies such as Wells Fargo and Edward Jones in Arkansas and California. He moved to New Mexico for his love of the mountains and also to carry on his passion for developing loyal, long term client relationships to help clients achieve their financial goals. He has a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of Oklahoma. In his spare time, Jonathan enjoys being outdoors. His top three favorite activities are backpacking, fly fishing, and snowboarding. Thanks to his roots, he is a lifetime devoted OU Boomer Sooner college football fan!

    LICENSES AND CERTIFICATIONS

    • Behavioral Financial Advisor™
    • Series 7 General Securities Registered Representative
    • Series 66 Uniform Combined State Law License
    • Life, Health and Disability Insurance

    AWARDS AND CITATIONS

    • Edward Jones Spirit of Partnership Award, 2013, 2014 and 2015
    • Edward Jones Client Development Award, 2015
    • Ted Jones Entrepreneurial Achievement Award, 2016
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    Jeremy Aguilar

    Financial Advisor, BFA™

    Meet Jeremy

    As a financial advisor at Charles Stephen, Jeremy actively engages with clients to provide advice on decisions that significantly impact their financial well-being. He takes pleasure in educating clients, simplifying complex investment and insurance concepts into everyday language. His role requires careful precision in managing investments and financial planning, complemented by his enthusiasm for cultivating relationships with Charles Stephen’s clients. “I find joy in communicating with and assisting others, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to interact with exceptional individuals regularly.” he says.

    Jeremy strives to understand a client’s complete financial picture to assist them in making optimal decisions, particularly in financial matters. “Every client is different,” he notes. “It’s important to listen carefully to truly understand their priorities, recommendations must be tailored to their specific situation.”

    A graduate of Central New Mexico Community College, Jeremy brings over a decade of experience to the financial services industry, beginning in 2008. He served as a registered representative at Nusenda Credit Union for six years, and prior to that worked for BBVA Compass Bank and New York Life Insurance Co.

    Jeremy has obtained the Behavioral Financial Advisor (BFA™) designation it has provided Jeremy with training on behavioral techniques to help you make better financial decisions using a rational, values based approach with and about money in the presence of challenging emotions.

    Originally from El Paso, Texas, Jeremy moved to Albuquerque in 2000. Jeremy, his wife and children love to travel and spend time with family and their 2 poms. A dedicated Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bulls fan, they enjoy attending sporting events, Jeremy also enjoys playing golf, skiing, concerts and other outdoor sports with his family and friends. On weekends he can be found at his kids’ games and events.

    LICENSES AND CERTIFICATIONS

    • Behavioral Financial Advisor™
    • Series 7 General Securities Registered Representative
    • Series 6 Investment company and Variable Contracts Products
    • Series 63 Uniformed Securities Agent State Law
    • Series 66 Uniform Combined State Law License
    • Life, Health and Disability Insurance

    Lea Sauri

    Registered Advisor, CRC®. CPFA®, NAPA ESG(k)

    Meet Lea

    Lea started as a receptionist at Charles Stephen in 2005. Seventeen years later, she is now the firm’s registered advisor for qualified group retirement plans. Lea’s own career path mirrors that of the many group plan participants she educates and advises on 401(k) participation, investing, and how to keep growing their retirement assets if they change jobs. As a working mother of three small children, she achieved a bachelor’s degree and earned multiple professional designations, all while advancing through the ranks at Charles Stephen. Lea also advises group plan trustees on both their fiduciary responsibilities and how to maximize the value of those plans for their employees. 

    Her life outside the office centers on being involved with her children, keeping in good physical shape through weight training, yoga and aerobics, working in her yard and enjoying her pets.

    LICENSES AND CERTIFICATIONS

    • Series 6 Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products Representative
    • Series 63 Uniform Securities Agent
    • Certified Retirement Counselor®
    • Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor®
    • National Association of Plan Advisors Environment, Social and Governance 401(k) Advisors Certificate
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    Cynthia Thompson

    Senior Relationship Manager

    Meet Cynthia

    Cynthia is originally from New York and brings over 30 years of experience to Charles Stephen. From major financial corporations such as Morgan Stanley and Thornburg Investment Management to independent financial advisor companies, she has done it all. Her favorite parts about working in the financial industry are the relationships she develops with clients and helping them form their desired financial life. She is currently working on the Series 7 (General Securities) and taking classes at Central New Mexico to finish her degree in Business. Cynthia’s other passion is theater.  In the past ten years she has performed on some of New Mexico’s most prestigious stages as well as stage-managed for numerous productions.  Being a stage manager is her preference because you can step back and see the results of your labor. For relaxation, she enjoys spending time with her family, quilting, and volunteering at numerous non-profits.

    Yunchi Zhu

    Relationship Manager, FPQP®

    Meet Yunchi

    Yunchi has been part of Charles Stephen team since March, 2013. She enjoys getting to know most of our clients over the seven years where she served as an Administrative assistant. As of March, 2020, she took on the role of Relationship Manager, diving deeper in serving our clients with portfolio related needs. Originally from Shanghai, after living in Washington, D.C. for 14 years, Yunchi moved to Albuquerque in June, 2012 to study Pilates and Gyrotonic certification programs at a world-renowned studio. Her passion in learning and teaching sophisticated movement methods in her spare time expands her understanding of serving people’s needs at a deeper level. She loves learning about new cultures and enjoys world cuisine, especially Michelin Starred restaurants, cooking, reading and writing

    LICENSES AND CERTIFICATIONS

    • Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional®
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    Brendon Garcia

    Relationship Manager, CPFA®, CRPS™, NAPA IRP

    Meet Brendon

    Brendon joined Charles Stephen in 2021 as a member of our client service team. He has plans to become a financial advisor one day, and in the mean time dedicates himself to helping clients in any way possible.

    LICENSES AND CERTIFICATIONS

    • Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional®
    • Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist™
    • National Association of Retirement Plans Introduction to Retiremen Plans Certificate
    Nikki Sloane

    Nikki Sloane

    Relationship Manager, FPQP®, CPFA®

    Meet Nikki

    Nikki is often the first person many of our clients interact with, acting as receptionist, scheduler, and as executive assistant to partner Adam Ciepiela. Her well-rounded position keeps her in touch with all our advisors and support staff throughout the day, monitoring workflows and availability for the many in-person and remote client reviews Charles Stephen conducts each week. Nikki grew up in Albuquerque and is the proud mom to her baby boy, Theo. 

    LICENSES AND CERTIFICATIONS

    • Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional®

    Jeannette Sanchez

    Relationship Manager

    Meet Jeannette

    Jeannette came to Chalres Stephen from Nusenda Credit Union, where she was a financial consultant. She also worked at the Bank of Albuquerque, bringing a total of sixteen years of experience in financial services to our firm.

    Originally from Albuquerque, Jeannette spent part of her childhood in Durango, Mexico, and speaks fluent Spanish. She’s also the mother of two grown sons and a baby girl.

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    Arely Tafolla

    Reception and Scheduling

    Meet Arely

    In most cases, Arely is our first point of contact with clients, prospective clients and vendors. She also handles all scheduling for our advisors and their clients. Arely is fluent in Spanish, an added benefit for our clients and plan participants for whom English may be a second language.

    Originally from Flagstaff, Arizona, Arely and her husband, Robin Luna, live in Albuquerque with their four “very large” dogs.

     

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    Sarah Newman

    Director of Business Management

    Meet Sarah

    Sarah plays an active role in the planning and implementation of business practices which include organizational development, corporate giving and advancing the client experience. Additionally, she curates social media content and is involved in the planning of educational events for Charles Stephen’s clients. Sarah brings over ten years of experience in project management, business development, social media, community engagement, and marketing expertise to the team at Charles Stephen. Prior to joining Charles Stephen, Sarah served as the Development Director for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of New Mexico, worked as a consultant focused on programming and fundraising for nonprofit organizations, and was a Retail Buyer for Fortune 500 companies. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Arizona. Sarah is an active community member, serving in multiple volunteer leadership roles for local nonprofit organizations.

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    Mark Smith

    Director of Marketing

    Meet Mark

    Mark creates all external communications for Charles Stephen clients. He writes, designs and publishes our weekly newsletter, FirstThing, and also produces and hosts our seasonal podcast The Plan. Before joining Charles Stephen Mark had a long career in advertising and worked in entertainment and education.