When Gregory A. Shanaphy ’91 enrolled at Montclair State, he envisioned a career in law. And although he earned a J.D. from Seton Hall University, is a member of the American Bar Association and admitted to the Bar in New Jersey and the United States District Court, Shanaphy has found success – and life purpose – in wealth advising and portfolio management.
“I always knew that I wanted to help people,” Shanaphy says. “I have lots of family members in law enforcement, and I wanted to follow their example of service to the community. When I was accepted into several colleges, my parents explained the financial benefits of attending a state school.”
“When I was recruited to play football at Montclair State, I saw a chance to play football with my Seton Hall Prep classmates,” says the former Red Hawk Linebacker.
“After law school and a clerkship, I worked in the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and then entered private practice,” Shanaphy continues. “I gained a lot of terrific experience in these roles, but I didn’t feel like I was helping people the way I wanted to.”
Shanaphy’s friends, including a few former Montclair State classmates, encouraged him to bring his legal background into the field of finance. “I started out in compliance work, but then worked my way into advising,” he says. After gaining some experience at Merrill Lynch Global Private Client and AXA Advisors, he joined The Poppo Group, a unit of UBS Financial Services.
Today, Shanaphy holds Series 7, 24, 31, 63 and 65 securities licenses as well as life and health insurance licenses, all of which he puts to good use as Senior Vice President-Wealth Management of UBS-The Poppo Group. As a Wealth Advisor, one of the few professionals to earn that designation at UBS, he provides highly personalized wealth management services for his clients. For Shanaphy, it is a wealth of opportunities to help others.
“I am very blessed to work with a great team,” he says. “It is very gratifying to help clients with life choices and events. We help people send their children to college, plan new businesses, retire. Every situation is unique. We helped a restaurant stay in business during the pandemic. When another client’s son was accepted to Cornell University, we helped the family plan for the costs involved.”
When Michael Perotta ’09, Leadership Giving Officer at the University, invited Shanaphy to get involved with the Montclair State University Foundation, Shanaphy saw a whole new world of opportunities to help others. “I’m honored to join the Foundation board and I’m excited to give back to the University that gave me so much,” he says. “I’m looking forward to meeting fellow alumni and to bringing my financial knowledge and experience to the University.”
“The campus has grown so much,” he says, “but now I am learning too about the needs of our students.” He was especially moved by the University’s efforts to provide for students who were homeless during COVID.
“I was the first in my immediate family to go to college,” he says. “I understood the costs and sacrifices involved. But I also had a supportive and loving family. I’m glad to see my alma mater providing for those who don’t have that kind of support system.”
“I had a wonderful experience at Montclair State,” Shanaphy concludes. “It was a wonderful stepping-stone to my career. And I had great professors. If you were engaged and wanted to learn, wanted to broaden your horizons, they were there for you.”