Speaker Bios

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Jim Allen, CFP, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, CAP is responsible for a team of attorneys and other credentialed professionals who provide advanced markets support for MetLife’s Independent Distribution. Jim has 25 years of experience in the financial services industry. He writes and speaks frequently on a wide variety of advanced markets topics. He is a three-time author award recipient from the Society of Financial Service Professionals, as well as a co-author of the book, The Tools & Techniques of Charitable Giving. His articles have been featured in many industry publications, including the Journal of Financial Service Professionals, National Underwriter, AALU Quarterly, Journal of Deferred Compensation and California Broker.

James S. Aussem, JD, AEP, is a shareholder of Cavitch Familo & Durkin, Co., LPA, a member of its board of directors, and chair of the Business Practice Group. Mr. Aussem's practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions as well as succession planning, and estates and trusts. Mr. Aussem speaks frequently on business succession, estate planning, insurance, trusts and estates. He has spoken for many professional organizations including the Society of FSP's Clinic for Advanced Professionals, Cleveland Estate Planning Institute, the AICPA Advanced Planning Institute, the Cleveland Tax Institute, and others. He has been designated an Accredited Estate Planner (AEP) by the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils. Mr. Aussem is AV Rated - Martindale-Hubbell.

Kristin O. Bulat, JD, LLM is vice president and attorney in NFP’s Advanced Sales Department.  She is a tax attorney, specializing in estate and business planning and has experience in many parts of the industry, having worked in private practice for a large insurance carrier, and now for a financial services company. During that time, she has focused on the use of estate and business planning techniques to help high net worth individuals reach their financial, charitable and personal goals.

Darwin Bayston, CFA is President and CEO of the Life Insurance Settlement Association (LISA). His charge is to extend the outreach of the Association to all participants of the life settlement industry from consumers to capital providers, including producers, brokers, providers and service providers who are part of the life settlement market. He was previously Managing Director of Life Settlement Consulting & Management (LSCM), founded in 2004 and specialized in life settlement policy and portfolio valuations, and life expectancy analysis. He has published several articles and participated as speaker at a number

Josh Chase, CFP, works for Lebel & Harriman, LLP in Falmouth, ME as a retirement plan advisor. With over 14 years' experience in the financial services industry, Josh works with plan sponsors and their employees to strengthen the financial wellness of the workplace through emphasis on retirement plan benefits, financial education, and individual financial planning. His ability to help people understand the basic concepts of financial planning and retirement savings has helped to not only decrease financial stress in the workplace, but increase individual savings and create healthier retirement plans. Josh is FINRA registered, Series 6, Series 7 and Series 66. He also has his Health & Life Insurance license.

Jim Christian, CLU, ChFC, is president of Jim Christian, Inc. in Lakeville, MN, an independent financial planning practice. Since 1988, he has been helping successful individuals navigate their retirement. Jim is a member of the Twin Cities Chapter of the Society of FSP, past Chapter President, and Minnesota Business Ethics Award Committee member. Over 30 hours per year of advanced education helps him to provide cutting-edge knowledge and information for each of his clients. Jim only works with select, committed individuals who take their life planning seriously and desire comprehensive, personalized service and a long-term relationship.

Barbara W. DeBerry, CLU, ChFC, CFP, CASL, CLTC, is a financial advisor and long term care specialist with Northwestern Mutual in Durham, North Carolina. Barbara's practice focuses on protecting and connecting the family relationships, financial security and legacies of her clients through long term care planning. She is passionate about long term care planning and its integration into a holistic financial plan. Her personal extended care experiences within her family as well as those of her clients have strengthened her commitment to widespread education for consumers and their advisors.


Michael Dow, CLU, ChFC, PFS, is a financial consultant at Dow & Associates, LLC in Port Washington, Wisconsin. Mike has provided insurance and financial consulting services to business owners and professionals in Southeastern Wisconsin for more than 25 years. Areas of expertise include executive benefit planning, business succession, wealth preservation planning and estate planning. Mike attained the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) designations from the American College in Bryn Mawr, PA., along with the Accredited Estate Planner (AEP) designation through the National Association of Estate Planning Councils. Mike currently serves on the Executive Committee of the National Board of the Society of Financial Service Processionals, and was past president of the Milwaukee Chapter. He is also a member of the Milwaukee Estate Planning Forum and is active in community and civic matters serving on the board of Aurora Family Services as Treasurer and chairs their Finance Committee.

Ruthann M. Driscoll, JD, CLU, CFP, is the director of planning and sales at Northwestern Mutual. Prior to joining Northwestern Mutual in 2008, Ruth was one of the founding partners of a small local law firm that focused exclusively on estate planning, probate, charitable giving, guardianship, and elder law. Previously, she worked for the Court of Appeals and was a planned giving director at Marquette University. Since joining Northwestern Mutual she has been actively involved in the retirement market initiative. Ruth is responsible for the Retirement School and has developed a strong working knowledge in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. She has spoken frequently on estate planning and retirement distribution issues and she contributed the chapter on trusts for the Milwaukee Bar Association's Wisconsin Methods of Practice publication. Ruth received her JD degree from Marquette University Law School in 1983.

Harry Ehrenberg, CLU, is the owner of Ehrenberg Financial, Inc., in Little Rock, Arkansas. For over 20 years Harry has worked with parents of children who have a disability, helping them arrange their estates to provide for the children's financial security and quality of life. He participated in meetings with the staff of the United States Senate Finance Committee about legislation that clarified the use of special needs trusts to maintain Medicaid eligibility. The position he advocated became part of the tax act of 1993 (OBRA 93). Harry is Chartered Life Underwriter, a Registered Principal offering securities through J.W. Cole Financial, Inc., a Registered Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC, and offers advisory services through Jonathan Roberts Advisory Group, Inc.

Peter Hershon is a regional vice president for Coventry, the creator and leader of the secondary market for life insurance. Mr. Hershon is responsible for developing strategic alliances with insurance, trust, legal, and accounting professionals in Texas and Florida. He is a graduate of Lehigh University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance. He holds his Series 7, Series 63 and PA Life licenses.


April Hill, JD, CELA, CAP is the founder of Hill Law Group, PA , a firm devoted to the field of elder law. She is board certified as a specialist in elder law by both the Florida Bar and the National Elder Law Foundation and practices in the areas of estate planning, trusts, life care planning, Medicaid asset protection, VA benefits, and probate. She has also been rated "AV-Preeminent" by Martindale-Hubbell, Inc. April has spoken at several continuing legal education programs in her field of expertise and is an adjunct professor at Stetson University College of Law. Prior to opening Hill Law Group, PA, April was employed by the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court where she played a key role in the establishment of the Elder Justice Center, a unique court program designed to help elderly individuals gain access into the court system. The program, with operations manual and procedures she developed, has been a model for similar programs around the U.S. Ms. Hill was nominated and selected by her peers to the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, a group of advanced law board certified specialists.

Jeffrey I. Hollander, JD is an assistant vice president in MetLife’s Advanced Markets Group. In addition to managing a team of advanced sales attorneys, Jeffrey concentrates on top producer case support and oversees learning and development programs. He has extensive real world client engagement experience with affluent clients and small business owners and he is a sought after speaker, presenting at numerous industry meetings and events such as the AALU Annual Meeting, Forum 400 and LIMRA.


Edward L. Howat, Jr., CLU, ChFC, LUTCF, RCC, has been a sales trainer and coach for the past 16 years. His primary focus today is coaching financial advisors, internal and external wholesalers, and sales managers. Ed has held advisor, agency manager, wholesaler and sales training director with Northwestern Mutual, Manulife Financial, and Nationwide Financial. Ed believes that it is important for experienced, successful people to mentor the next generation of financial planners by passing on knowledge and skills. It is up to those who have enjoyed and prospered from their careers as financial professionals to pass on their wisdom, knowledge, experiences and insights.

A. Frank Johns, JD, LLM, CELA, CAP, is a nationally recognized legal authority in elder law, guardianship, special education and disability rights, special needs and special needs trusts, and legal ethics. He is principal partner in Booth Harrington & Johns of NC PLLC. In addition to a broad practice in trusts and estate planning and elder law, he specializes in fiduciary litigation focused on the elderly. Mr. Johns is a frequent speaker on guardianship, elder law, special needs trusts, and legal ethics in addition to being a well-published author. He is also an adjunct profession of law at Stetson University College of Law. Mr. Johns is past president of and a fellow in the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and past president and board member of the Greensboro Chapter of the Society of Financial Service Professionals.

Timothy M. Kiesling, CLU, ChFC, RICP, CRPC, is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant on retirement income strategies. He has spoken more than 500 times at company meeting, seminars, and industry conferences. With more than 20 years of experience in the financial services profession, Tim has the unique ability to explain concepts in a manner that increases advisor confidence and client understanding. Through his experience, expertise, and energy he helps advisors design strategies for millions of baby boomers to achieve their retirement goals. Tim is a member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) and the Society of Financial Service Professionals (FSP).

Joshua S. Lipson works with owners of closely held and family-owned businesses to help create and separate wealth from the business, to minimize taxes, and to help create personal and family wealth. He helps to develop succession, continuation and estate plans, and advises his clients on a full range of employee benefits including group, qualified retirement plans, and customized carve-out programs for key executives. Josh also works with senior executives to create, implement, and monitor retirement and investment plans, minimize taxes, and mitigate risk. His comprehensive investment planning process allows him to tailor investment and risk management programs to help meet his clients' objectives based on their personal levels of risk and life planning goals.

Christopher Mercer, ASA, CFA, ABAR is the founder and CEO of Mercer Capital, one of the nation's leading business valuation and financial advisory firms. He is a nationally known business valuation expert, writer and speaker. Chris has been valuing businesses and helping people buy and sell their businesses for over thirty years. He is the author of eight books including Buy-Sell Agreements for Baby Boomer Owners, The One Percent Solution: An Introduction for Wealth Managers and Business Owners to the Concept of Managing Pre-Liquid Wealth, and Business Valuation: An Integrated Theory.

Dan Monaco, CFP, CLU, ChFC, CASL, is the regional marketing director, LFN Channel, Lincoln Financial Distributors. Dan joined Lincoln Financial Distributors in 2001 as regional marketing director responsible for wholesaling life products to independent broker-dealers in five southeastern states. Subsequently, he worked as a regional life specialist for advanced life insurance case development and point-of-sale support to key national and regional broker-dealer firms in Florida and Georgia. In his current role he is responsible for life insurance and Money Guard sales, distribution and development in Lincoln's GA, ABGA, and LFA channels in Florida and Puerto Rico.

Kristin Pirris, LUTCF, CFP®, began her career in the insurance and financial services industry in 2003 after graduating from Penn State University. As an independent representative for the American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus, she worked with business owners and helped them to enhance their employee benefit programs and improve retention. Kristin added New York Life's products and services to her business offerings in September 2006 and a few months later she affiliated with NYLIFE Securities as a Registered Representative. She became a member of the Society of FSP in 2009 and serves as a Board Director. She is a member of the Estate Planning Council of Northeast Florida and National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. Kristin is a recipient of the FSP National Top Leaders Under 40 Award.

Kathleen M. Rehl, PhD, CFP, is a leading authority on the subject of widows and their financial issues. She is the award-winning author of Moving Forward on Your Own: A Financial Guidebook for Widows. A widow herself, Kathleen is frequently invited to speak at industry meetings and conferences, sharing her story and educating financial advisors on how to work successfully with widows. Her guidebook has received 10 national and international awards, and her work has been featured in dozens of popular magazines, newspapers and professional journals. The U.S. Army uses her book in their Survivor Outreach Service centers worldwide. She served widows and other clients in her personal financial planning firm for 17 years before devoting herself to speaking, teaching, and writing.

Justin Smith CFA, CFP, has been a financial advisor with the family-owned fee-only RIA firm Jonathan Smith & Co, Investment Counsel located in Greensboro, NC since 2003. Justin is the president of the Greensboro Chapter of the Society of Financial Service Professionals, a former board member of the statewide Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Society of NC, and current board member of the Crescent Rotary Club of Greensboro. He is a recipient of the FSP National Top Leaders Under 40 Award as well as the Triad Business Journal 40 Under 40 award.


Terence B. Stanaland, JD, ChFC, CPA, is of Counsel to the Greensboro, North Carolina, law firm, Teague Rotenstreich Stanaland Fox & Holt, P.L.L.C. He graduated from East Carolina University Magna Cum Laude, and earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Florida School of Law. He is an experienced attorney and certified public accountant, a member of the North Carolina Association of C.P.A.s and a licensed CPA in Florida. In addition, he is a member of the Florida, North Carolina and Greensboro Bar Associations. Mr. Stanaland is a frequent local and national lecturer and author on financial and tax topics. He has an active wills and estate law and administration practice and regularly consults with insurance companies and brokerage houses on technical tax matters involving financial products and services.

Ralph Steiner, CLU, ChFC, has built an outstanding financial services practice. His sales ideas have been published in industry magazines and he continues to be a featured presenter at broker dealer marketing events. When the time came to transfer his practice, Ralph followed his own advice: create a succession plan that works for the buyer, the seller and the clients. Ralph located the right buyer for his practice and established a transition plan that assured customers would remain with the new owner. His own experience set the stage for Ralph to launch Transition Brokers, a niche business that helps financial services professionals sell their practices at retirement, death or disability.

Richard M. Weber, MBA, CLU, AEP (Distinguished) is Past President of the Society of Financial Service Professionals. A 46-year veteran of the life insurance industry, he has been a successful agent, an insurance company executive, and now a consultant to insurers and their agents on the topic of effective and ethical selling. Author of more than 300 articles encompassing products, sales practices, and the due diligence necessary to buy and sell insurance, his most recent research, Life Insurance as an Asset Class - co-authored with Christopher Hause - received the 2008 Academy of Financial Services "Best Paper" award. Mr. Weber has been a member of the Society of Financial Service Professionals since 1974 and has been honored with the Society's Kenneth Black, Jr. Leadership Award.