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Paul Pagnato is the CEO and Founder of PagnatoKarp, a top-ranked family wealth advisory with over $4.8 billion in assets under advisement. In 2019, Forbes ranked Paul as the number one advisor in Virginia (29th in the United States), and Barron’s ranked him at #2. Prior to founding PagnatoKarp, Paul worked at Merrill Lynch for 19 years, where he founded its Private Banking and Investment Office in Washington, D.C. However, Paul’s career had a very unconventional start.  After he graduated from college, he worked as a microbiologist with NASA and McDonnell Douglas to search for alien life. Lastly, Paul is the author of the new book Transparency Wave: Exponential Changes That Will Transform Our World, which shows why those who fear transparency are doomed to remain in the past.


  • What a family wealth advisory does and the difference between a financial advisor and certified financial analyst (3:38)
  • Why you should study the sciences as undergrad even if you want to go into finance (7:39)
  • How Paul pivoted from Microbiology to Merrill Lynch (13:19)
  • What lessons Paul learned from science that he has applied to finance (21:00)
  • What Transparency Wave is about and why listeners should check it out (24:09)
  • How Paul was able to bounce back from his “failure” during a recession (29:50)
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