Tom Papa and Nick Zizzadoro began their careers (Tom in 1988, Nick in 1993) at "Big 4" accounting firm, Price Waterhouse. At Price Waterhouse, Tom and Nick became CPA licensed.
In June 1994, Tom started working on Wall Street for Cowen & Company, a mid-sized broker/dealer and investment bank focusing on high net worth clients. In September 1997, Tom recruited Nick to work with him in the Asset Management division of Cowen & Company. This was during the height of the internet boom.
Tom and Nick commuted together 2-hours each way into lower Manhattan. During this time, they often discussed the sales culture of Wall Street, its biased research reports, and the lack of independent advice that investors were receiving. They began discussing the possiblity of establishing an "independent" financial services practice of their own, with a focus on providing objective advice to families and individuals.
In June 1999, Cowen & Company was purchased by French banking giant, Societe Generale. The investment banking arm of the company soon became known as SG Cowen. Tom and Nick continued to work together until November 1999, when Tom was recruited to join Goldman Sachs' Private Wealth Management Group. Nick remained with SG Cowen, planning his next move.
During his time on Wall Street, Nick took advantage of the long commute by studying for several registrations, licenses and designations. He eventually obtained the FINRA Series 7 (General Securities Representative), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Personal Financial Specialist (PFS), and also became a Life & Health Insurance agent.
During the week of 9/11, Nick decided to leave Wall Street to create his own independent financial services practice.
A little over one year later and partly driven by the events of 9/11, Tom left Goldman Sachs to join Nick. This independent investment management and retirement planning firm became a partnership which is now known as OakTrust Wealth Advisors.