James Lukezic might have an extensive portfolio as a retirement consultant for large corporations that expands two decades, but his passion is also wine. “My family has been making and selling wine for centuries. They have owned wineries in Slovenia (Austrian Hungarian Empire) and the Collio region of Italy,” James Lukezic says. Because of his background, James Lukezic decided to become a sommelier. He explains what being a sommelier is all about.
What is a Sommelier?
A sommelier is someone who is an expert in fine wine and serves only the best quality wine to its patrons. The term sommelier is of French origins, and it used to refer to the wine steward whose job was to serve wine to royalty. According to James Lukezic, it’s safe to say the job description has changed a lot in the last few centuries. Although there are still a few sommeliers that serve royalty, most of them work in the food and hospitality industry.
Most modern sommeliers either work at fine dining restaurants or offer their consulting services. Sommeliers are responsible for knowing important details about the wine they serve patrons. James Lukezic explains any decent sommelier should be able to tell information about the grapes, the region where the grapes were grown, details about the particular vineyard, and more. Sommeliers also have extensive knowledge of the ratings of each wine. Not to mention, the best sommeliers know a great deal about vintage wines.
Responsibilities of a Sommelier
James Lukezic, who is primarily a financial advisor by day, explains the responsibilities of a sommelier are quite broad. Aside from making the perfect pour and educating patrons about wine, sommeliers have specific responsibilities. Many fine dining establishments hire sommeliers to put together the wine list for the menu. They also know which wines go with different foods so that they can make recommendations to customers.
When they work at a restaurant, sommeliers are also responsible for ordering and maintaining the wine. They also train other employees on basic wine knowledge so they can recommend a wine to customers.
Aside from working at restaurants, sommeliers can have enjoyable jobs. Many of them, to keep their skills sharp, travel to the wine regions of the world, and attend wine conventions. Sommeliers must stay current with everything that has to do with wine. They must stay on top of industry and pricing trends. Because wine consumption is all about the customer, sommeliers take the opinions of consumers seriously.
Where Can a Sommelier Work?
Aside from working in fine dining, there are many places where a sommelier can work. Sommeliers go on to become business owners and open a wine store. They can also teach courses on wine and food pairings or train other sommeliers. James Lukezic points out it’s also common for sommeliers to write articles or books on wine.
“My favorite wines are Napa Cabernet Sauvignons and Pinot noirs from Oregon’s Willamette Valley,” says James Lukezic. Some of his other activities include the United States Polo Association, New York City’s Fencers Club, and the American Helicopter Society.
As the Executive Managing Director of Old Slip Capital Partners, James Lukezic has almost two decades of experience working as a retirement consultant for large corporations. He has taken on different roles serving as a financial analyst and institutional consultant for many financial corporations over the years. James Lukezic recognizes some individuals are not comfortable with the idea of hiring a financial advisor because they don’t know where to start. He shares some tips for those who want to explore the idea of a financial advisor.
Familiarize Yourself with the Types of Financial Advisors
As someone who has worked in different sectors as a financial advisor, James Lukezic recommends people familiarize themselves with the different types. For example, some financial advisors might offer investment management, while others provide financial planning.
Advisors who focus on financial planning deal with helping people save and the types of insurance they might need; investment advisors focus on managing the investments of their clients. Retirement financial advisors specialize in managing sources of income during retirement, such as investments, pensions, and Social Security benefits.
Check the Credentials of Potential Financial Advisors
According to James Lukezic, one of the most important things to keep in mind when seeking a financial advisor is the credentials. Getting a reputable financial advisor is one of the most critical steps. James Lukezic advises people to verify that potential financial advisors have some of the following credentials CFP, PFS, or CFA. Even if the financial advisor has the credentials, potential clients need to double-check for complaints against the. James suggests people check the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for any complaints.
Learn the Compensation Process
James Lukezic recommends people looking for a financial advisor to learn about the compensation process. Learning about the compensation process can help determine what they can afford as far as a financial advisor. In general, most financial advisors are fee-only, but others can also charge on an asset-based fee, an hourly fee, or commission fee.
Ask the Right Questions
James Lukezic suggests people ask the right questions when trying to find a financial advisor. Asking the right questions often helps people weed out advisors that won’t be able to meet their needs. It’s essential potential clients go prepared with questions before they meet with a possible financial analyst. Asking questions will also give clients a better sense of how the financial advisor communicates. If the advisor doesn’t give you the answer they’re looking for, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask follow up questions.
James Lukezic has also worked with financial giants such as Merrill Lynch, Citigroup Global Markets, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America in his career. When James Lukezic is not advising large corporations, he’s helping the community. James serves as the Chairman of ITF USA, a non-profit organization that assists landmine victims in over 30 countries worldwide. He also has plans to establish a non-profit to help widows in the five boroughs.
James Lukezic, an Executive Managing Director, has been surrounded by wine his entire life. My family has been making and selling wine for centuries. They have owned wineries in Slovenia and the Collio region of Italy,” James says. Even though he has a strong professional portfolio as a retirement consultant and financial analyst, this didn’t stop him from becoming a sommelier. “My favorite wines are Napa Cabernet Sauvignons and Pinot noirs from Oregon’s Willamette Valley,” he says. While some of his favorite wines come from wineries in the United States, as an avid traveler, James Lukezic recognizes the great wine regions of the world.
According to James Lukezic, even though the wine production in France has gone down by 11% since 2007, France remains one of the top producers in the world. The major grapes in France include Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Merlot, Carignan, and more. James Lukezic, whose family has owned wineries in Italy, points out that Italy still remains a large wine producer. Some of the major grapes in Italy include Prosecco, Barbera, Trebbiano Toscano, and Nero d’Avola. Still, Italy has also reduced its wine production by 7% since 2007.
Although Spain doesn’t get the same recognition as France and Italy, it has some of the largest vineyard acreages in the world. Spain still holds its own against its neighbors with grapes such as Garnacha, Airen, Bobal, and Tempranillo. As one of James Lukezic’s favorites, 99% of the wine produced in the United States comes from California. The major grapes in California include Melot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel.
Argentina is also making its mark on the world as one of the top wine producers, according to James Lukezic. Over the last few years, wine production in Argentina has seen a growth of 8%, which has this South American country to hold one of the top 5 spots in wine production in the world. The major grapes in Argentina include Malbec, Bonarda, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
When he’s not adding wines to his extensive collection, James Lukezic focuses on his career as an executive for Old Slip Capital Partners. James Lukezic has also worked with financial giants such as Merrill Lynch, Citigroup Global Markets, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America in his successful career. Some of his other interests include setting up nonprofits, belonging to the United States Polo Association, New York City’s Fencers Club, and the American Helicopter Society.
Although James Lukezic has a strong professional portfolio as the Executive Managing Director of Old Slip Capital Partners and two decades of experience working as a retirement consultant for large corporations, he is also an avid wine collector. “My family has been making and selling wine for centuries. They have owned wineries in Slovenia (Austrian Hungarian Empire) and the Collio region of Italy,” James Lukezic says.
With such a strong winery background, it should come as no surprise James Lukezic is a sommelier. James Lukezic says, “My favorite wines are Napa Cabernet Sauvignons and Pinot noirs from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.” Because James Lukezic believes it’s possible to do it all, he shares how to become a sommelier.
James Lukezic recommends people try to learn as much as they can about wine if they’re interested in becoming a sommelier. One of the best things to do is to begin taking notes when tasting wines. Learning to taste wine like a pro is one of the most important steps. According to James Lukezic, familiarizing yourself with the most important wine regions in the world also helps a sommelier in the making, then delve into the lesser-known regions, thereby setting a base knowledge of styles, characteristics, and expectations.
Although traveling to the main wine regions is the best way to learn about wine, sometimes this is not possible for everyone. James Lukezic recommends reading as many books as you can on wine regions, attend local tastings and visits wineries when possible, to learn from those on the ground floor, vintners, farm managers, and cellar rats. Another important skill that is often overlooked is learning to properly examine wine. Whether a novice or professional, the first moments after the pour are critical. The nose and color of a wine can detail an incredible amount of information about a particular vintage, therefore its presentation and aromatics are quite important.
Naturally, one of the best ways to obtain training as a sommelier is by working in the industry. That said, working at a restaurant, tasting room, wine bar, or catering company is a great way to hone your knowledge and skills when working at a winery directly is not an option. James Lukezic, for example, comes from a background of winemakers, born into the industry, claiming this as the reason for his passionate love affair with wine and wine-making.
When we asked James Lukezic about his favorite part of tasting wines he referenced how his thoughts lead to thinking of the people that picked the particular vintage, where they were from and where are they now and if they know the profound effect they had on the wine being tasted so many years later.
For those who are very serious about becoming a sommelier, they can sign up for a certificate program. Wine courses are widely available and will provide them with the hands-on training required to become a professional sommelier.
When James Lukezic is not adding wines to his collection, he enjoys helping the community and staying involved with nonprofits. James serves as the Chairman of ITF USA, a non-profit organization that assists landmine victims in over 30 countries worldwide. James Lukezic also has plans to establish a non-profit to help widows in the five boroughs.
Some of his cherished personal interests include belonging to the United States Polo Association, New York City’s Fencers Club, and the American Helicopter Society.
As the Executive Managing Director of Old Slip Capital Partners, James Lukezic has almost two decades of experience working as a retirement consultant for large corporations. In his current role, James Lukezic ensures his entire team is in compliance with ERISA. “My Firm is a leading ERISA Fiduciary Advisor to large corporate retirement plans of all kinds,” he says. For those who are not familiar, James Lukezic talks about what ERISA entails and what the responsibilities of fiduciaries are.
What is the Employee Income Retirement Income Security Act?
According to James Lukezic, the Employee Retirement Security Act (ERISA) came into existence in 1974 to help protect the retirement assets of all the people who entered a plan. Under ERISA, fiduciaries, who manage the assets, must follow the rules to avoid misusing the assets set forth in the plan. ERISA also dictates all fiduciaries must provide participants with all of the relevant information about the plans’ benefits and features.
James Lukezic also points out ERISA has minimum participation standards set which dictate the vesting, benefit accrual, participation, and funding. Under ERISA, there are also rules that dictate how long a person should work for before they’re able to participate in a pension plan. Plan sponsors also have to adhere to the rules and provide adequate funding to remain in compliance with ERISA.
What is the Purpose of ERISA?
All in all, James Lukezic explains the purpose of ERISA is to identify roles and regulate the responsibilities of a fiduciary. According to James Lukezic, a fiduciary is a person who controls, manages, or holds authority over a plan or assets. All of the fiduciaries who violate any of the ERISA rules will have to restore the losses caused to the plan.
James Lukezic explains there are three takeaways to ERISA that all fiduciaries should be familiar with.
- If a fiduciary misused the plan, ERISA allows for participants to sue for the loss of benefits.
- The rules set by ERISA prevent the plan fiduciaries from misusing any of the assets in the plan.
- ERISA also sets minimum standards of participation, funding, benefit accrual, and vesting of all retirement plans.
James Lukezic has also worked with financial giants such as Merrill Lynch, Citigroup Global Markets, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America in his career. Some of his interests include belonging to the United States Polo Association, New York City’s Fencers Club, and the American Helicopter Society. James also enjoys helping the community and staying involved with nonprofits.
With almost 20 years of experience working as a retirement consultant and financial analyst for corporations such as Merrill Lynch, Citigroup Global Markets, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, James Lukezic has extensive knowledge as a corporate financial advisor in multiple roles. As a graduate from Cornell University, James Lukezic knows what it takes to take a financial career to the next level. He explains how new graduates can become financial advisors in a few steps.
Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree and get credentialed.
According to James Lukezic, the first step to becoming a financial advisor is to obtain a bachelor’s degree and preferably a master’s degree or even work towards a CFA designation in a perfect world. Although many people feel tempted to obtain a degree in finance, James Lukezic explains this is not necessary. Having a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance will help, but future financial advisors still need to take certification exams. He recommends taking some courses in estate planning, finance, and investments to help prepare them before the certification exam.
Get an Internship
James Lukezic recommends those who are serious about becoming financial advisors obtain an internship, especially if they don’t pursue a finance degree. Getting an internship in a finance firm will ensure candidates get a glimpse of what it’s like to work in the field. It also gives them hands-on experience in the field. After completing an internship, candidates will feel more confident going to an interview when they’re ready to pursue a full-time job.
Obtain the Licenses and Certifications
The types of certifications candidates need will depend on the services they provide clients, according to James Lukezic. For example, those who plan on selling investment products will have to obtain the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Certification (FINRA) licenses; that means getting a Member of FINRA, a Financial Firm that can sponsor a new representative to start obtaining FINRA licensing and credentials.
Other certifications include:
- Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products Qualification Examination (IR)
- Securities Industry Essentials (SIE)
- General Securities Representatives Qualification Examination (GS)
- Uniform Securities State Law Examination
- Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination
- Uniform Combined State Law Examination
Looking for the First Job
Once candidates obtain a bachelor’s degree and pass all of their certification exams, James Lukezic recommends they start the job search process and obtain employment in a training program or at least with a top 10 Wall Street firm. Many people decide to start their careers with a large broker-dealer firm. Starting at a big company gives those starting their careers the opportunity to learn the business in the big leagues. No matter where they start their career, James Lukezic recommends they work for a company that will provide in-depth and hands-on training. He also talks about the importance of getting a mentor – someone who will bring you in on those face to face client meetings instead of keeping you at the office in your cubicle.
When James Lukezic is not advising large corporations, he’s helping the community. James serves as the Chairman of ITF USA, a non-profit organization that assists landmine victims in over 30 countries worldwide. He also has plans to establish a non-profit to help widows in the five boroughs. James Lukezic also serves as Treasurer of the F&A Mason lodges in the Grand Lodge of the State of New York. James Lukezic also belongs to the United States Polo Association, New York City’s Fencers Club, and the American Helicopter Society.
With almost 20 years of experience working as a retirement consultant and financial analyst for corporations such as Merrill Lynch, Citigroup Global Markets, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, James Lukezic has extensive knowledge in corporate retirement plan services. In his current role as Executive Managing Director for Old Slip Capital Partners, he has taken the firm to the next level with the help of his team. “My Firm is a leading ERISA Fiduciary Advisor to large corporate retirement plans of all kinds,” he proudly says. For those who are not familiar with the role of an ERISA Consultant, James Lukezic explains what the role entails.
In the realm of ERISA or Pension consulting, James Lukezic explains, there are ERISA Consultants and retail brokers. Although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there are specific characteristics and job duties that differentiate the two. ERISA Consultants, for example, take on liability for their advice as it relates to plan assets while brokers do not; brokers only provide arms-length advice, leaving the plan sponsor liable for any infraction as it relates to fees and investment selection. The ERISA Consultant’s job usually includes plan design and reviewing the plan documents, opening on fees and investment quality, and educating participants and investment committee’s alike.
Building quality investment menus for plan sponsors while offering the protections of a sound ERISA Fiduciary contract
According to James Lukezic, his firm provides a variety of institutional investment consulting services to retirement plan sponsors. They have investment expertise in the areas of asset allocation, manager selection, and portfolio construction. His team applies its investment expertise to build, manage and monitor investment lineups that help plan sponsors fulfill their ERISA obligations. Furthermore, they offer all types of Non-Discretionary (ERISA 3(21)) and Discretionary (ERISA 3(38)) Consulting arrangements with the aim of being as flexible as necessary to meet the best interests of any particular plan sponsor.
Implementing the ERISA Governance Process
According to James Lukezic, the next step is to implement the best practice guidelines endorsed by the Department of Labor, once a client has been onboarded. The implementation process includes, but is not limited to; investment menu corrective action, fee renegotiations with Recordkeepers and administrators, enrollment meetings, one on one consultations, enrollment coordination, and other logistics.
Long Term Management of the Plan
James Lukezic says once the plan has been implemented, there are many things the ERISA consultant needs to tend to. For starters, the consultant needs to ensure the plan complies with all of the DOL guidelines. Next, the consultant has to run analytics and gather statistics to ensure the plan meets the expectations. ERISA Consultants have to hold meetings to ensure the plan continues to meet the needs of the employer. Not to mention, they must perform an annual audit and hold quarterly investment committee meetings to review the investment line up.
When James Lukezic is not advising large corporations, he’s helping the community. James serves as the Chairman of ITF USA, a non-profit organization that assists landmine victims in over 30 countries worldwide. He also has plans to establish a non-profit to help widows in the five boroughs of NYC.
A graduate of Cornell University, James Lukezic has worked for financial giants such as Wells Fargo, Citigroup Global Markets, and Bank of America. Aside from serving as a financial analyst and
institutional consultant for many financial corporations over the years, James Lukezic also devotes his time to helping worthy causes. “I’m the Chairman of ITF USA – a non-profit that helps landmine victims in over 30 countries,” he says.
Established in 1998 in the Republic of Slovenia, the purpose of ITF Enhancing Human Security was to assist Bosnia and Herzegovina implement a peace agreement. Since its establishment, ITF has expanded its aid to help countries and territories that are affected by conflict. The purpose of this organization is to help these countries rebuild their security and rehabilitate other aspects.
Although the ITF started in Slovenia, it has had a long-standing relationship with the United States. Back in 1998, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright signed a letter of intent solidifying a partnership. The U.S. has donated over $216 million to support the many causes of ITF.
The United States Chapter of ITF is a 501(c) (3) charity that allows Americans to contribute to the many humanitarian programs available. All donors can receive a tax exemption whenever they make a donation to ITF. As James Lukezic mentioned, this organization aids over 30 countries with the removal of landmines, unexploded ordnances, reconstruction, and post-conflict rehabilitation. Some of the territories ITF helps include Central Asia, Southeast Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Central and Southern Europe.
James Lukezic explains, for example, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH) are one of the territories with the most unexploded ordnance and mines in the world. BIH is the most mine-infested territory in Europe. By the end of 2017, ITF freed of mines 6,157,717 square meters of land. Thanks to their demining efforts in BIH, ITF has freed over 85,503,068 square meters of land since 1998. Aside from their demining efforts, they also use their resources for capacity building, victim assistance, mine risk education, and destruction of surplus weapons.
James Lukezic hopes to continue making a difference with his work as chairman for ITF. Aside from his work to this cause, James Lukezic has other aspirations in mind to help the community. “I’m in the process of establishing a non-profit that will assist widows in the 5 boroughs of NYC; issuing grants to assist with everyday life,” he says.
When he’s not doing non-profit work or advising financial institutions, James Lukezic also serves as Treasurer of a F&A Mason lodge in the Grand Lodge of the State of New York. James Lukezic also belongs to the United States Polo Association, New York City’s Fencers Club and the American Helicopter Society.
James Lukezic plans on establishing a non-profit to help widows in the boroughs of Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. The goal of this non-profit is to issue grants for widows to help them with everyday life and expenses. While the non-profit, Mount Moriah #20 Foundation is still going through the formation process, it will impact the community in a positive way.
In the United States, there are about 13.6 million widows, and each year about 700,000 more will become widows. Aside from dealing with the grief, some widows also see a significant decline in their income after their spouse passes away. In fact, the average widow in America sees a 37 percent decline in their household income after the death of their spouse.
Although many new widows get a lot of attention from friends and family members shortly after the death of a spouse, the help eventually stops. Out of all the people over 65 years old living in poverty in the United States, over two-thirds of them are widowers.
Widows often don’t know about all of the administrative procedures they need to take care of after the death of their spouse. They need someone to guide them with navigating health insurance policies, Social Security, life insurance, and overall financial guidance.
As a financial analyst and philanthropist, James Lukezic is no stranger to helping the community. He is the Chairman of ITF USA, a non-profit organization that helps landmine victims of over 30 countries. James Lukezic has big plans to continue helping the community and making the world a better place.
James Lukezic graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in banking, corporate, finance, and securities law. After receiving his degree from Cornell University, James Lukezic started his career in the Junior Executive Training Program at Merrill Lynch & Co. He currently works as Executive Managing Director at Old Slip Capital Partners.
His extensive experience has also led him to work for financial giants Citigroup Global Markets, Bank of America and Wells Fargo. James Lukezic also participated as a Visiting Lecturer at Princeton University in the Department of Politics. Not to mention he completed his Executive Education in Marketing at the Harvard Business School.
In his free time, James Lukezic is also a member of the United States Polo Association, New York City’s Fencers Club and the American Helicopter Society. He also serves as treasurer of the F&A Mason lodges in the Grand Lodge of the State of New York.