Reality Check on Your Retirement Savings

Whether you’re 23 or 35, it’s important to know whether you are saving enough for your retirement. There is no time like the present to ensure you are allocating enough funds to your retirement account. With folks routinely living into their 80s and 90s, it’s more important than ever to ensure your money lasts your […]

The Two Faces of Debt

Understanding Good Versus Bad Debt Can Help You Make Smart Financial Moves Credit card debt is a huge challenge for many people. According to Debt.org, Americans owe $986 billion on credit cards, surpassing the prepandemic high of $927 billion. While credit card debt is considered “bad debt,” it’s important to understand other types of debt […]

Doing Some Tax Planning Now Can Pay Off Later in Retirement

For many people, retirement is not a time to slow down and stop. It’s a time to explore the next great chapters of your life and build upon everything you’ve learned and experienced so far.  Another thing that doesn’t slow down or stop is taxes. Understanding how taxes could affect your future cash flow will […]

When to Begin Collecting Social Security

Deciding when to retire and begin collecting Social Security is an important life decision. Some people may feel they don’t have enough savings to retire and delay their retirement plans to continue working, which means postponing when they begin collecting Social Security. Current law allows workers to begin collecting Social Security between 62 and 70 […]

Optimizing Required Minimum Distributions

Seventy-three is an important age milestone for those in or near retirement, as it marks the time when required minimum distributions (RMDs) begin to be withdrawn annually from Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and employer-sponsored retirement plans (previously, the threshold was 72). The milestone carries with it tax consequences that are not fixed. Rather, there are […]

Pay It Forward

Looking To Teach a Child Some Important Money Lessons? Consider a Roth Custodial IRA. You started early and have saved hard in your 401(k). You’ve also paid close attention to your investing strategy over the years. And you definitely understand the benefits of tax-deferred compounding over the long term and the potential for growth. Heck, […]

Webinars: Tax Planning & Investment Solutions

Don’t miss our Two Part Series to help prepare you for your 2022 taxes. Part 1: Inflation Reduction Act & Tax Planning Considerations for 2022 Tuesday, Nov 1 @ 3pm – WATCH THE RECORDING Steve Franzen, CPA, PFS, CGMA will be leading the discussion outlining parts of the Inflation Reduction Act that may impact your […]

Eliminate the Guesswork

Creating an estate plan is a key component of achieving financial wellness Most people don’t spend too much time thinking about end-of-life planning on a daily basis. But you may have loved ones who will soon face those issues. While it’s not pleasant to think about, you may be the one who ends up having […]

The Many Faces of Risk

Knowing the different types of investment risk can help you cope with market volatility. When was the last time you checked your retirement plan balance? If your balance was less than it was the last time you checked, you probably felt a bit of pain. Everybody does. Where exactly does that pain come from? It’s […]

Money Mantras

Market swings causing you some anxiety? These four money mantras can help you overcome it. Whether it’s the continuing presence of the COVID-19 pandemic, a sudden boost in prices related to gas, food, housing and other essentials, supply chain hiccups, an uncertain labor market (or any number of other things), the stock market has certainly […]

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Peter M. Babilla, CFP®, CRPS®

SENIOR WEALTH ADVISOR

Peter Babilla brings 40 years of experience in investment management and fiduciary* financial consulting to Vertex Planning Partners, LLC.

Pete graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana with a Bachelor’s of Science in Finance.

He began his career in 1983 with a focus on institutional fixed-income portfolio management, primarily working with community banks. After a decade serving institutional clients, Pete shifted his focus to working with individuals, families and business owners, providing guidance and education in all areas of Wealth Management.  Among his areas of focus are accumulation and retirement planning, investment management, risk management, and estate and wealth transfer.

Pete’s planning philosophy allows him to create a personalized program for clients, based on their own unique goals and circumstances.  The extensive investment and planning platform offered by Vertex enables him to create a highly customized program, tailored to each individual client.

Pete and his wife Suzanne have two children, and have resided in Wheaton, Illinois for the past 30 years.  He enjoys golf, reading, and traveling with his family.  Pete gives back as a past Board Member of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, where his focus is on improving the lives of those living with epilepsy.

Pete works as fiduciary for his clients and holds the CERTIFIED FIANANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) designation and the Chartered Retirement Plan Specialist (CRPS®) designation.

JUSTIN J. D'AGOSTINO, CFP®, CRPC®, AIF®

PRIVATE WEALTH ADVISOR

Justin D’Agostino joined Vertex Partners in 2019 and is a Private Wealth Advisor that serves a select group of business owners and affluent families. He specializes in investments, financial planning, and succession planning. His interest and knowledge in providing comprehensive financial planning and wealth management services to clients was sparked when he worked at a boutique tax and wealth management firm in Michigan. He has nine years of experience in the financial services industry, and his mission is to provide every client with targeted, comprehensive financial advice and to help them implement customized strategies designed to move them closer to accomplishing their unique goals.

Justin attended Hillsdale College where he earned his BA in Accounting and Financial Management and was a member and captain of the football team. Justin is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional, holds the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor™ and Accredited Investment Fiduciary™ designations.

Justin and his fiancé, Alexandra, reside in Chicago, Illinois. He is an avid sports fan and enjoys golfing, playing soccer and spending summer weekends with his family.

Scott A. Sandee CFP®, CIMA®, CPWA®, CEPA

MANAGING PARTNER

Scott Sandee brings over 20 years of experience as Managing Partner. He is responsible for leading the firm’s efforts in assisting middle-market business owners and seven and eight-figure families to plan and realize financial goals based on their unique aspirations and situations.

With a privately held family business background, Scott has helped owners prepare for and execute a successful transition. In addition, he works with business owners and their advisors to develop financial strategies to maximize sales proceeds and minimize future taxes.

Before joining Vertex, Scott served in financial planning and investment strategy roles at Oxford Financial Group, Capital Group, and The Northern Trust Company, working with Chicago’s HNW/UHNW families clients.

Scott holds the Certified Financial Planner®, Certified Private Wealth Advisor®, Certified Investment Management Analyst®, and Certified Exit Planning Advisor designations. Scott earned his B.S. in Computer Science from Northern Illinois University, and his family resides in Wilmette, IL.

Julie Hupp CFP®, MBA

PARTNER

Julie Hupp, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, has worked in the accounting and corporate finance field since 1987. She began her career as a CPA with Deloitte & Touche, specializing in the financial needs of small businesses. Then spent the next 13 years in corporate financial planning and business development at Baxter and TAP Pharmaceuticals. Recognizing her passion for personal financial planning, Julie started her business in 2006 where she focuses on comprehensive financial planning strategies and implementation.

Julie graduated from University of Illinois with a BS in Accountancy. She received her Master’s in Management with a concentration in Finance from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in 1994.

Outside the office, Julie is the co-founder of the 12 Oaks Foundation, which has merged with Cal’s Angels, and is a former Board member. Julie enjoys cooking, reading, running, triathlons and doing almost anything outdoors. A great weekend is spending time with her husband and two adult kids boating at their lake house in Wisconsin.

Steven P. Franzen, CPA, PFS, CGMA

MANAGING PARTNER

Steven P. Franzen, CPA, PFS, CGMA is a public accountant and consultant with more than 23 years of experience helping individuals and businesses reduce their tax liability.  He began his career under the guidance of Patrick M. De Sio, CPA, CGMA and in 1996 became Mr. De Sio’s partner in De Sio, Franzen & Associates, Ltd. Steve’s expertise include entity design, complex tax strategies and multigenerational wealth transfer.  As Managing Partner, Steve conducts his practice under the philosophy that the client’s investment in their CPA should yield a return on that investment – most of the time that return is realized when working with clients on planning for their future. In an effort to increase the planning capabilities of the firm,  Steve formed Vertex Accounting Partners, LLC to ensure their guiding philosophy will continue well into the future.

Steve is a certified public accountant and has earned the professional designations of Personal Financial Specialist and Chartered Global Management Accountant.  He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Illinois CPA Society.  Steve earned a B.S. degree in accounting from Millikin University.  He and his wife Kristie live in Sugar Grove, IL with their three children.

Gregory P. Benner, CPWA®, CFP®, CLU®, CHFC®, AIF®, RMA®

MANAGING PARTNER

Gregory P. Benner, CPWA®, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, AIF®, RMA® has over twenty-two years of experience as a financial advisor. Greg’s practice is based on developing holistic financial plans that help his clients integrate sophisticated retirement, tax, risk management and estate planning strategies into an actionable plan, then stay the course as their behavioral coach.

Prior to founding Vertex Planning Partners, LLC, Greg spent four years as a founding partner of a Registered Investment Advisory firm affiliated with LPL Financial. He also spent seven years with JPMorgan Chase as a Senior Financial Advisor and was a Financial Representative with Northwestern Mutual Life.

Greg holds the Certified Private Wealth Advisor® designation and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Certificant. He also holds the Chartered Financial Consultant®, Chartered Life Underwriter®, Accredited Investment Fiduciary™, and Retirement Management AdvisorSM designations. He earned a B.S. in Finance from Miami University.

He and his wife Lindsey reside in Naperville, IL with their daughter and twin sons.

Michael D. Bellis, CFP®, CLU®

MANAGING PARTNER

Michael D. Bellis, CFP®, CLU® began his career as a financial planning professional in 1994. His practice is centered on holistic financial planning, astute risk management strategies and empirical, research-driven portfolio construction. He began his career in partnership with his father under the name Bellis & Associates. Together, their practice and reputation for excellence dates back more than 40 years and includes multiple generations of the same families. After his father’s retirement several years ago, Mike continued to build a client-centric, consultative practice before forming Vertex.

Mike holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification and is also a Chartered Life Underwriter. He has been an active member of both the Society of Financial Services Professionals and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. He earned a B.S. in Business & Marketing from Illinois State University. Mike is a lifelong resident of Naperville, Illinois. He and his wife Tanja have three children.