Our purpose —

Building wealthier lives.TM

Lives that are both financially secure and more fulfilling.


Why we're here

Many of our team members developed extensive expertise in financial and related industries, and found they wanted to help people in a deeper and more meaningful way — with their finances, life’s big transitions, and living the lives they’ve imagined.

We are a company built on purpose powered by caring people. We invite you to get to know us.

Mark T. Johnsen

Chief Wealth Architect, CEO & Founder

Mark T. Johnsen
Chief Wealth Architect, CEO & Founder

When you are adopted at birth, there are a lot of ways it can go. I won the lottery with my parents, who gave me an idyllic middle-class childhood of playing in the woods and snow, growing up with strong Midwestern values. After my father lost his job, we moved to California. He died soon after we moved, and I had to grow up fast.

I was proud to be accepted at UCLA, to walk on to their soccer team and put myself through school, which was a huge challenge. After college, I joined a brokerage firm, married my college sweetheart, and started building a life. I was scheduled to fly to New York for a meeting in 7 World Trade Center when the towers came down. That same week I found out my wife was expecting our first child. The stock market was closed for the week and I noticed clients were not talking about their money — they were talking about what really mattered – their true wealth.

I started to think deeply about purpose and what I really wanted from life. After going through the boom and bust of the dot-com bubble, I saw there was a big difference between being rich and wealthy: I wanted to help people be wealthy.

 

 

I wanted to provide people with objective advice, not based on selling financial products, but based on really listening, helping them figure out what is most essential, architecting the dream they had for their lives, and building a plan to make it happen. I wanted to start a wealth advisory firm to do just that.

I had also been inspired by Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, who helped people do well by being transparent, telling the truth, and taking the long view. And I loved the idea of building a business that could do well by doing good and have a strong value system, like Hewlett-Packard. In that spirit, my colleague Lois Cole and I launched Wealth Architects.

Building this company and our team has been deeply fulfilling, and I feel a great sense of satisfaction when I have a meaningful impact on our clients’ lives.

Areas of focus —
Inspiring others to design and build wealthier lives;
Working with owners of concentrated financial wealth in privately held and public companies, as well as real estate

Experience —
24 years in wealth management

Education —
B.A., Political Science & Business Administration, UCLA

How I give back —
Serving on the board of directors of the YMCA of Silicon Valley (Chair Project Cornerstone) and Children Now (Treasurer)

Mark R. Gordon - JD, MPP, CFP®, CFA

Chief Investment Officer &
Chief Compliance Officer

Mark R. Gordon
- JD, MPP, CFP®, CFA
Chief Investment Officer &
Chief Compliance Officer


My parents, both PhDs, raised me in the Midwest. My grandfather was a major influence in my life. He was a house-call doctor, and wherever we would go, people would recognize him and talk about how he delivered their children and grandchildren and how much he cared.

I began my career as an attorney and worked in finance law for 7 years. I enjoyed the finance, not the law, and wished that I could help people before the lawsuit, not after. All of the worst things occurred when financial advisors had monetary incentives to place trades with client money, which created conflicts of interest.

Transitioning to a brokerage firm, I worked with hundreds of clients, many self-directed. I realized I needed to leave after the 2008 financial crisis, when an elderly client with a multi-million portfolio comprised of one stock refused my advice to diversify and ended up with a small fraction. Working with self-directed investors was going to be too frustrating and heart-breaking, because they can’t be their own financial stewards.

I wanted to go to an independent Registered Investment Adviser where I could be the financial steward and provide objective advice.

 

 

What is most rewarding is getting to what matters to clients, then helping them understand why they are taking investment risk and how the investment portfolio will make their lives better.

Areas of focus —
Investment due diligence, monitoring of client assets, quantitative analysis, financial compliance

Experience —
19 years in wealth management and legal services

Education —
J.D., University of Michigan
M.P.P., Duke University
B.S., Political Science & Psychology, Eastern Michigan University

Jina Yi

Chief Administrative Officer

Jina Yi
Chief Administrative Officer

My parents emigrated from Korea to the states in the mid-1970’s. When they arrived, they knew very little English and had to assimilate into a new culture. They focused on raising three children with an abundance of love and strong family values. They taught us that no obstacle is insurmountable if you work hard and persist, and that the way to be happy is to be a bigger person.

Prior to Wealth Architects, I spent 10 years working for big banks, learning a lot but not feeling much purpose in my work. 2007 was a pivotal year for me: I met Mark Johnsen and Lois Cole and found a home that would allow me to serve others and contribute to the firm’s vision of building wealthier lives.

 

 

I see the positive ripple effect of our work. We provide our clients with peace of mind — often by simplifying complex financial situations for them — so they can focus on what really matters. Our clients are gracefully caring for parents and partners, helping children realize their dreams, and generously supporting philanthropy in their communities. Working with them is an incredible opportunity.

Areas of focus —
Service excellence

Experience —
20 years in wealth management and banking

Education —
B.A., Business Administration, California State – Hayward

Pat Phillips - CFP®

Wealth Architect

Pat Phillips
- CFP®
Wealth Architect

I am Michigan-born, Georgia-raised, and California-grown. My Dad gave me my work ethic and my Mom gave me positivity and warmth. Now my own family inspires and grounds me. My kids see that my spouse and I co-parent on everything and our professional goals have equal priority.

I studied economics and played varsity golf at Stanford. Golf is a sport about integrity and honesty: there is no rules official, you call the penalty on yourself. I had a golf instructor and mentor who would be the first to open the shop, but would park in the worst spot. This is how you handle yourself professionally.

After the 2008 financial crash, I saw the sense of insecurity people had about their wealth and their job prospects. The lesson is that we have to be independent and save.

I wanted to work someplace where I could make a difference. Wealth Architects was only a year old and there was so much passion and energy, and they seemed fun and kind. I wanted to work with people like that.

 

 

It’s rewarding to see the change when clients focus on what is core in their lives and have a better understanding of how the market works. I’ve had to tell a client not to take a friend’s financial advice that I knew was wrong. You have to be real, be compassionate, but also stand your ground.

Areas of focus —
Wealth planning, especially working with younger families; Silicon Valley professionals

Experience —
11 years in wealth management

Education —
B.A., Economics, Stanford University

How I give back —
Being a mentor for the Stanford men’s college golf team

Iris Nguyen - JD

Wealth Architect

Iris Nguyen
- JD
Wealth Architect

I moved from Hong Kong to New York when I was six. Growing up in an immigrant family, I overcame hardships and learned the importance of a strong work ethic. These formative experiences gave me the tenacity to put myself through Tufts University and Northeastern University School of Law.

After law school, I worked at Arthur Andersen assisting high-net-worth individuals with their tax and estate-planning needs, then for a prominent Boston law firm. I served my clients with great care and addressed their needs, but often did not see them again for many years. The transactional nature of the work didn’t fulfill me, so I returned to Tufts to help its fundraising efforts to raise $1 billion for need-blind admissions, working for an amazing president with a real vision.

In 2008, my husband, three kids, and I moved from Boston to California, where I ultimately found Wealth Architects and the visionary leadership I experienced at Tufts. Our team shares the same values, a really strong work ethic, and a desire to genuinely get to know and help people.

 

 

I hope that my clients have experienced care, compassion, and empathy — then I’ve done my job.

Areas of focus —
Estate, tax, retirement, and charitable planning

Experience —
19 years in wealth management, philanthropy, and law

Education —
J.D., Northeastern University School of Law
B.A., International Relations & Asian Studies, Tufts University

How I give back —
Helping children in my community grow to their fullest potential by being a volunteer for the YMCA

Tyler Scott - CFA, CFP®

Wealth Architect

Tyler Scott
- CFA, CFP®
Wealth Architect

My parents shaped my values. They said respect others, be honest, and live within your means. I respected them so much that I never got out of bounds.

I also loved exploring the outdoors with my family while growing up – the challenge and beauty in it. It’s where I picked up my Midwestern sensibilities and realized that you don’t need much to be happy. If I could experience the outdoors every day for the rest of my life I probably would, but I enjoy great moments with my family even more.

I worked for many years at another wealth management firm and met Mark Johnsen while volunteering on a non-profit investment committee. When I left my position as a partner, Mark was my first call — I really wanted to work for him and was looking for more balance between investing and life planning.

 

 

I earn people’s trust with excellence. I want to help them think through and see the big picture, the higher level, where the power is in their lives, and what we are trying to do. Once they do, it’s awesome — they are able to let go and focus on the things that bring them joy.

I love working here. I always wanted to find a place I could call home and have really found it here. The leaders here are all so thoughtful — they make me want to be better.

Areas of Focus —
Wealth planning for high net-worth individuals, non-U.S. citizens, and nonprofit organizations

Experience —
19 years in wealth management

Education —
B.S., Finance, University of Colorado at Boulder

How I give back —
Volunteering my time to help children and promote education

Eric Masch - CFP®

Wealth Architect

Eric Masch
- CFP®
Wealth Architect

I grew up in San Jose with a younger brother and sister. We all shared a room and that’s part of why we have such a close relationship. We were good students, independent and accountable to ourselves.

I was in college during the 2008 financial crisis and saw people I was close to making some poor money decisions. I wanted to understand and help, so I studied finance and investments at Santa Clara University.

When I interviewed at Wealth Architects, I met with every single team member: I could see that everyone cared deeply about who was coming into this role.

What I look for when I interview potential colleagues is authenticity, honesty, and attention to detail.

 

 

What makes this company different is putting clients first and doing what we say we are going to do. I like helping people through life transitions, because we are able to build our relationships in the process.

Areas of focus —
Young, high-income families; college-fund planning and financial-scenario modeling

Experience —
5 years in wealth management

Education —
B.S., Finance, Santa Clara University

How I give back —
Being a mentor in a local youth program

Zac Riera - CFP®

Associate Wealth Architect

Zac Riera
- CFP®
Associate Wealth Architect

I grew up in a lively blended family, with a total of eight children. I went to a Catholic high school in San Jose, where I took up wrestling, which taught me a lot about achieving goals and being resilient. I wasn’t the best technically at wrestling (or other sports), but I often overcame opponents because of my determination.

My grandparents helped pay for my tuition at University of Colorado at Boulder, where I was not living up to my academic potential. After my first year, the 2008 recession struck and my grandparents wanted me to come back to California to attend a more affordable state school. Instead I took a year off, worked full-time, qualified for in-state tuition in Colorado, and excelled once I was back in college. I realized I had to take responsibility for my life.

After a stint in a corporate tech job, I decided that I wanted to use my analytical skills to help people. I heard about Wealth Architects from a high school friend who works here.

 

 

The firm’s deep-seated values and client service orientation resonated with me.

My colleagues are concerned about me, cheer me on, and hold me accountable, like my old sports teams. And they will tell you that I am authentic, sometimes to a fault.

Areas of focus —
Financial planning for college expenses and retirement

Experience —
3 years in wealth management

Education —
B.A., Economics, University of Colorado at Boulder

How I give back —
Organizing community service events for Wealth Architects’ clients and team members

Adam Salas - CFA, CFP®

Associate Wealth Architect

Adam Salas
- CFA, CFP®
Associate Wealth Architect

My family has always been drawn to the medical field and I have an uncle I’m close to who is a doctor. As a kid, I wanted to be an anesthesiologist like him, getting the mixtures and measures just right. I was also inspired by his generosity — he spends time each year providing free medical services to the poor in the small Mexican town he came from.

I was attending University of California, Santa Barbara when the financial crisis hit during my junior year. I saw the effects of inadequate financial planning as some of my friends dropped out of school and my parents struggled. That’s when I decided I wanted to help people with their planning and investments.

For me, life is always a learning experience. I wanted to join Wealth Architects because of their continuous improvement culture and entrepreneurial spirit. I want to succeed here both to help my clients and to be able to give back to the community myself.

Areas of focus —
Financial-scenario modeling, financial literacy, and investment management

Experience —
8 years in wealth management

Education —
B.A., Economics, University of California at Santa Barbara

How I give back —

Taking public transportation, donating to a children’s hospital, and volunteering for community service events

Drew Marquiss

Associate Wealth Architect

Drew Marquiss
Associate Wealth Architect

My parents are very family-focused, and my two sisters and I benefited from a lot of care and attention. That was all the more meaningful because my mother had a challenging early life and took on a lot of responsibility for her siblings at a young age. She was always sympathetic when I had problems, but she made sure I knew that sometimes you just have to tough things out. My dad would always take the time to reflect with me on the experiences I was going through.

With this kind of upbringing, I grew up wanting to work in a capacity where I could help people and look at problems constructively.

I went to college at UC Davis, where I majored in Economics and minored in Philosophy. After the 2008 financial crisis, I became interested in what shapes risk. I read ‘In An Uncertain World,’ by Paul Rubin, the former US Secretary of the Treasury for Bill Clinton. This book changed how I viewed risk then and now, as well as encouraged me to pursue economics as a major.

 

 

My previous jobs in finance developed my skills and helped me understand what I was looking for. I wanted a company with high ethical standards that always has the best interests of its clients in mind. I came to Wealth Architects because of their genuine interest in people’s well-being, both clients and employees.

Areas of focus —
Financial-scenario modeling, financial literacy, and investment management

Experience —
3 years in wealth management

Education —
B.A., Economics and Philosophy, UC Davis

How I give back —
Serving as a youth mentor at Friends for Youth

Vivian Tang

Associate Portfolio Manager

Vivian Tang
Associate Portfolio Manager

I spent most of my childhood in Hong Kong and Sydney. Then my family took the opportunity to move to the Bay Area when I was 12 years old. Growing up around the world taught me the values of resilience and diligence. It also nurtured my love of travel and exploration. Considering everywhere I’ve been, I feel very lucky to live in Northern California, a place that’s rich in culture and full of adventures.

My interest in finance started while studying economics at USC. That led me to the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) Program and a deep appreciation of behavioral finance. It’s not all about the numbers — there’s always emotion at play. I was fascinated by that dynamic. And I saw a lot of room for helping people better understand how emotion can affect their financial decisions.

 

 

At Wealth Architects, I found a unique focus on serving both the financial wealth and overall well-being of clients. Every day I see how genuine and thoughtful our team is in helping clients work toward their life goals. Being a part of that is very fulfilling.

Areas of Focus —
Portfolio monitoring, investment research, and trading

Experience —
2 years in wealth management

Education —
B.A., Economics and International Relations, USC

How I give back —
Volunteering for Wealth Architects’ community service events

Mary Zabaneh

Client Services Associate

Mary Zabaneh
Client Services Associate

I am a product of two cultures — American and Middle Eastern. My dad is from Palestine and my mom from Jordan. They moved to the Bay Area in 1969, refugees from war and conflict.

My family defines who I am today. My three brothers are my best friends. My husband comes from the same Middle Eastern-American culture as me, and we have a baby girl. My parents arrived here with nothing, but have achieved the American dream by starting some neighborhood businesses. Our favorite family saying is “If there’s a will, there’s a way.”

I chose to work at Wealth Architects because it feels like my own close-knit family. Everyone here is hard-working and genuine. We value our culture. We work closely together. And our leaders are honest, open-minded, and caring.

 

 

My special gift is the ability to feel what others are feeling — being empathetic. I enjoy working with our clients and making their lives more seamless and easy. Our clients are happy and that’s deeply rewarding.

Areas of focus —
Assist with onboarding new clients and financial transfers

Experience —
5 years in wealth management

Education —
B.S., Finance, University of San Francisco

How I give back –
Supporting my large extended family and church.

Lisa Hurst

Client Services Associate

Lisa Hurst
Client Services Associate

I am a Bay Area native. My parents are medical professionals: my dad is a retired pediatric neurologist and my mom is still working as a dietitian at the age of 79. I always admired the way they took care of their patients and they instilled in me a strong work ethic. They taught me to be humble and grateful and I admire them immensely.

As a student, I enjoyed math and numbers, earning a degree in accounting at Santa Clara University. After working back-office operations for over twenty-five years at two investment firms, I decided I needed a career change, wanting to fulfill a long-held desire to work directly with clients. That’s why I joined Wealth Architects.

 

 

I appreciate excellent service, when people go that extra mile to make sure others feel cared for. I’m so happy to be at Wealth Architects, getting to know our clients on a personal level and showing them consideration and kindness, in addition to handling their account-service needs.

I also work well in a collaborative environment, where everyone has a voice and an opportunity to contribute and feel valued. My team sees me and accommodates my needs, knowing that I am balancing work with the demands of a being a single mom with a young son at home.

Wealth Architects is a wealth-management firm that goes beyond offering good service. They want to really know you and help you achieve your dreams.

Areas of focus —
Handling client requests, transferring funds, and making tax payments

Experience —
25 years in wealth management

Education —
B.S., Accounting, University of Santa Clara

How I give back —
Volunteering regularly at my son’s school, public speaking in my parish as a lector and donating to my favorite charities

Meena Cruz

Executive Assistant to CEO

Meena Cruz
Executive Assistant to CEO

My brother and I are the first generation in our family to be born and raised in this country. My parents are from India and grew up in a very different culture. At times, it was a challenge to find balance between the two worlds, but looking back, I appreciate how this struggle shaped me. My brother and I learned to be open-minded and developed the ability to see situations from many perspectives.

I majored in economics at Santa Clara University, then started working for a renowned private equity firm in Menlo Park. It was small and had a close family feeling, but with rapid growth the culture became more corporate and formal. When I became a mother, I needed a more supportive and flexible community.

I heard Wealth Architects was different than most financial firms. I was skeptical because most financial firms are not warm, but the people I met were caring, sensitive, and interested in knowing more about me as a person. It still amazes me that we have weekly meetings to discuss how we can offer a higher level of service to our clients.

 

 

The values at Wealth Architects are not just words — they are real.

As a proud working mother, I empathize with the many women who are managing career, family, and household at the same time. For women in transition the demands are even greater. It is a juggling act that is tough and not always recognized. It means a great deal to me that Wealth Architects supports so many women meeting these challenges.

Areas of focus —
Scheduling, project management, and team support

Experience —
13 years in financial services industry

Education —
Majored in Economics, Santa Clara University

How I give back —
Adopting and taking care of a shelter dog

“We share strongly held values based on authenticity and serving others.”

Pat Phillips
Wealth Architect
Enhancing well-being

Our culture revolves around trust and well-being.

We are committed to a healthy and inclusive work environment — with family-friendly work schedules, wellness reimbursements, sabbaticals, employee ownership opportunities, and long-term career plans that we take seriously. We work hard, but we also respect the need for balance.

We support our broader community by giving our time and resources to help children and families, emphasizing education and equal opportunity. This commitment is reflected in our nonprofit leadership, charitable giving and matching programs, and regular volunteering efforts.

Business leaders, research institutions, and the public all rely on the Great Place to Work® Trust Model© as the definitive standard of what it means to be a great workplace. For a description of certification criteria click here.

We support our broader community by giving our time and resources to help children and families, emphasizing education and equal opportunity. This commitment is reflected in our nonprofit leadership, charitable giving and matching programs, and regular volunteering efforts.

A financial career
with meaning

Our team members share strongly held values based on authenticity and serving others. They want to build deep, trusted relationships.

We’re always looking for people who have exceptional skills and are also empathetic and attentive listeners. People who can see our clients for who they are and can develop the knowledge to guide them.

If you want to help clients more and lead the wealth management field in a new direction, let us know.