Click on any of the photos or names below to learn more about the individuals that work at Milestone Financial Associates.
David S. Coult, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®, QPFC
David S. Coult - "The Business Owner's Wealth Manager"
When I was eight years old, I discovered the magic of combining two lifelong passions: business and fishing! My wonderful mother spent many dark, rainy nights outside holding a coffee can and a flashlight while I learned how to catch night crawlers I could sell to local anglers and supply my own fishing habit! I have never met a fish I didn’t like, from the salmon of Alaska to the peacock bass of Brazil, but I feel most at home fly-casting to trout on the creeks and rivers of Pennsylvania and New York. Whether a gurgling brook or the sound of the surf, I have always found peace on the water.
As a kid growing up, I found out that if I looked for a job in the yellow pages and started calling from “A”, there was generally work to be had. I delivered newspapers for Berks-Mont News, labored for Bratt Tree Company and Dane K. Masonry, and started my own landscaping business in college. I learned from early on how to recruit and manage a high-performance team!
I was raised to value continuous learning. I started kindergarten at 4 years old, skipped 4th grade, and no one was more surprised than my parents when I was named high school valedictorian at 16. I attended Bethel College for my undergrad and continued my financial education at the American College in Bryn Mawr, PA. My father is an optical engineer and Lehigh grad with multiple patents who has worked for AT&T Bell Labs, Infinera, and other tech companies. Education and the ongoing drive to learn remains a core value at my firm today and may be why we work so well with engineers, business owners, and people who love to learn, solve problems, and overcome obstacles.
I started my career more than 20 years ago at a large financial services firm in Philadelphia and returned to the Lehigh Valley to found Milestone Financial Associates in 2002. Seeing the meteoric rise of health insurance costs, I developed two divisions of the company – one providing comprehensive wealth management for successful families and the other providing group health benefits to companies. The largest and most successful association health plan in the state of Pennsylvania at the time was the Pennsylvania Builders Association, a group of residential contractors, through Capital Blue Cross. I negotiated a program for the commercial construction industry through Highmark Blue Shield with the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). That program was very successful and I grew Milestone’s benefits firm rapidly, providing insurance to more than 150 companies in our region. But my real passion is financial planning, and I didn’t like the direction the health care business was heading, so in 2009 I sold that division of the company to National Penn Bank, now BB&T. That successful exit allowed me to have the freedom to be selective in working only with clients I like, for whom I believe I can have a meaningful impact. That was a game changer.
I’ve had my share of failure as well. I am divorced, and as I reflect on what was undoubtedly the most painful experience of my life, I realize that I am able to relate, not just to the legal and financial aspects with others who are divorced, but I have tremendous empathy for all who have suffered loss and who must now try to revise their financial plans for a future that seems impossibly different than the one they envisioned. I embrace widows, widowers, and divorcees in my practice.
The greatest joys in life are my three boys – Ben, Nate, and John. We have busy lives together, between Boy Scout campouts, food drives, and hikes, football and basketball practices and games, homework, and listening to the unbearable honking of Johnny learning to play the saxophone! There is never a dull moment!
I am also passionate about The Wildlands Conservancy, a local organization working to conserve natural land, clean air and water, and to provide environmental education. I am a past Chair of their Board. I am also a past-President and member of a local Rotary Club. Rotary is the largest service club in the world, working with the Gates Foundation and many others to eradicate diseases such as Polio, and to provide food, clean water, shelter, and education to our friends and neighbors worldwide. Together with a group of fellow CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals, I volunteer on the Kutztown University Personal Financial Planning Advisory Board, helping to guide young people entering the financial services profession.
So now that you know a little bit about me, I’d like to learn more about you! How can our team at Milestone help? Let’s sit down together and talk. Let’s see what we can do together.
Justin R. Miller, CFA®
Chief Investment Officer
Justin Miller – Specializing in Corporate Executives and Retirees
“It’s the start that stops most people.” This quote by Don Shula made me pause when I first read it. It resonated in me and has settled into my conscious since. Starts can be scary and seem unmanageable or overwhelming. However, taking certain risks and working towards set goals while learning self-discipline can lead to the most rewarding pieces of life’s puzzle. This is the mentality I try to live by in my career and personal life as they seem entwined and so much a part of who I am.
I did not always know I wanted to be a financial advisor. I grew up in a small town nearby (Mertztown!) and learned my work ethic from blue-collar parents. My father is a truck driver and spent a decent amount of my childhood “on the road.” This left my mother, a payroll manager, in charge of running the day to day tasks for my sister and me. They sacrificed and worked very hard to provide a comfortable home where I had a wonderful childhood. While they were busy like all parents are, they managed to keep family and important core values I carry with me today at the center of our lives.
As a kid, sports were always of great interest to me. My first love was racing, whether it be NASCAR or the local dirt track. I enjoyed spending Saturday nights with my father cheering on our favorite drivers and learning everything I could about the sport. I would build elaborate race tracks at home with my toy cars and do time trials to keep track of how fast they could go. I also enjoyed football and once again learning everything I could about it. As much as I liked the game, I liked the numbers behind the game even more. I learned the statistics of all of my favorite players and most from other teams as well. Looking back, I believe this sort of passion was the bud forming in my analytical mind. Both sports are still a few of my favorite pastimes.
By the time I got to high school, I had found something else I loved – music! I began to learn guitar from my father around age 8 but my interest and skill level soon led to weekly lessons. I spent most of my free time focusing on mastering songs from my favorite bands. Luckily, my closest friends also played instruments and had the same level of enthusiasm. Before long, we formed a band and were writing our own music. We played many local venues and even toured several states on the East Coast the summer after our senior year. My first business experience was renting out fire halls for our band to play. It was my first time making a bit of my own money and I began to learn its value. It is nice earning money doing something you love!
After high school, I decided to attend Kutztown University and major in business. I knew the major would interest me and I figured I could hone in on my specialty as I took more courses. While I commuted to college instead of choosing the dorm life, I did not do it alone. It turns out it’s pretty cool to be in a band, as I started dating one of my childhood friends because she was a fan. Stephanie and I attended Kutztown together and supported each other while balancing work and school. By my sophomore year, I knew I wanted to concentrate on finance and economics, land an internship, and gain entry into Kutztown’s AIM program. I also knew I wanted to marry Stephanie. We got engaged that year and planned our wedding upon graduation.
I became a member of AIM my senior year, an exclusive finance team at Kutztown University that manages a portion of the school’s endowment. I had been working as an intern for Milestone Financial for over a year. I dove in full force. My role as an intern required everything from communicating with clients to mowing the lawn and building filing cabinets. My hard work did not go unnoticed as Dave Coult offered me a full-time job upon graduation and we began to set plans for my future with the company, including a plan for me to pass the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams. The CFA charter is viewed as the gold standard in investment management and is one of the most challenging series of exams in finance. I earned a scholarship to start the CFA program from Kutztown University and started right away. I made it my personal goal to pass the exams before Stephanie and I started a family. It seemed like the most logical thing to do.
Studying for the CFA took years of some of the most challenging work I’ve ever taken on and sacrifice in my personal life. It requires three levels of success in excruciating 8-hour long exams offered only once a year. Maybe that’s why less than 3% of financial advisors have earned the CFA. It was the first time achieving what I set out to do was much harder than I thought. Still, I pressed on and while studying for my second attempt at level 2, we found out we were expecting a baby. The greatest lesson I have ever learned came from that experience.
Our daughter, Ellianna, was born with a brain injury. She spent 3 weeks in the N.I.C.U. and her health was very fragile. To our amazement, she made a full recovery and is a healthy, energetic two-year-old today. This time in our lives tested our marriage, rocked the foundation we had been building, and taught me that as thoughtful as we may be, sometimes life has other plans for us. My mentality changed a bit and I learned a level of respect for life and the unknown – and empathy towards others. I use these lessons in my career as I keep in mind that while I am crunching numbers and analyzing the best options for clients, some solutions don’t come from a book. The relationships built with our clients help us to relate and roll with life’s ups and downs. I passed level 2 of my exams while my wife was pregnant and level 3 on my first attempt the year after Ellie was born. It turns out she was just the push I needed.
Now, as the firm’s Chief Investment Officer, I get to spend every day relating to our clients – understanding their goals, building the best portfolios to achieve them, and monitoring their investments so they can be free from that financial anxiety. It’s never too early or late to make a plan. Don’t let the start stop you. Let’s sit down and get to know each other! Let’s see what we can do together.
Jonathan L. Ritter, CFP®, CPA
Jonathan L. Ritter, CFP®, CPA – Specializing in Tax Planning
“They never slaughter the egg-laying hens” was my grandfather’s famous quote. A World War II Air Force veteran, he was a crew chief on B-17s that flew over the South Pacific. After the war, he worked for the local telephone company. When a customer had an issue, it didn’t matter the time of day or night, the distance, or the weather – he’d always be ready to climb up a 40-foot-tall telephone pole to take care of the customer. His dedication and the pride he took in his work had a profound influence on me and is a part of who I am today.
I grew up in Allentown and our family has called the Lehigh Valley home for at least four generations. My first lesson on finance came from my grandmother. When I was in elementary school, when all I wanted to do was watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on TV, she would send over math worksheets for me to do and check in on me every few days to track on my progress. For every worksheet I completed, I would get 25 cents. She also bought me a small treasure chest where I could keep the money I earned and if I saved enough, I could buy something that I wanted. Looking back, Nintendo stock would have been a better long-term investment than the Nintendo video game I purchased, but I still have that treasure chest – a great lesson on working hard, saving, and investing for the future.
I attended Moravian College and majored in accounting. My accounting advisor was a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and I took a keen interest in financial planning, which felt like the perfect balance between my interests of math, accounting, and finance.
Unfortunately, the financial crisis and market crash of 2008-2009 occurred at the same time I began searching for employment. There were widespread hiring freezes across the financial sector, but I accepted a position at a regional public accounting firm where I had completed multiple internships. After many late nights of studying, I successfully passed all four parts of the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam and acquired my CPA license from the state of Pennsylvania in 2012. After 2 years in public accounting, I accepted a position at a private wealth management firm working as an associate financial planner. After a few years with the firm, I successfully passed the CFP® exam and achieved my goal of becoming a CFP® professional. After six years there, I decided to join Milestone Financial Associates. I was attracted by the culture and energy of the firm. When a team of people with the industry’s best credentials takes an intense interest in listening to and serving clients, and in sharing financial concepts in easy-to-understand language, special relationships develop. I was also looking for a role where I could build these connections directly, as opposed to primarily providing behind the scenes support.
While I do not prepare tax returns, nor am I looking to compete with your CPA, I believe that collaboration and between a client’s financial planner and their accountant leads to the best overall outcome. It never hurts to have a second set of eyes analyze your tax situation, look for potential savings opportunities, and to review your tax return before it is sent to the friendly neighborhood agents at the Internal Revenue Service.
When not working, I enjoy spending time with my wife, Andrea, and our daughter Hayley. I’m a huge Philadelphia Flyers fan, regardless of the fact that they haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1975. As far back as I can remember, it was my dream to one day play in the NHL for the Flyers, but since my ice hockey skills are closer to Happy Gilmore’s than Wayne Gretzky’s, I stick to playing roller hockey in a local recreational league. I also enjoy relaxing with my family and friends on my deck boat. There’s nothing more peaceful to me than throwing out an anchor, kicking your feet up with a cold beverage, soaking in the sun rays and letting the waves gently rock you back and forth. It’s also fun to take passengers wakeboarding, water skiing, and tubing. When time permits, I also enjoy playing a round of golf with the focus being on appreciating four hours spent outside laughing with friends and not concerning myself with details, like the score or how many balls I’ve lost! So, now that you know a little about me, I would welcome the opportunity to sit down and get to know you. Let’s see what we can do together.
Reta Geld – Office Manager
It is Reta’s smiling face that clients see when they walk through our doors and her lovely voice that they hear on the phone!
Reta is highly competent and attentive to our clients. With more than 30 years of experience, she knows how to get things done. Reta proactively calls to schedule review meetings and is easy to reach to address any administrative concern.
Financial Planning Assistant
Leslee Schoonover - Financial Planning Assistant
When I graduated from West Virginia University with a BA in political science, I never imagined I’d have a career in the financial services industry, but almost 18 years later and having experience with firms like Ameriprise and Merrill Lynch, here we are. I started out at a small mom and pop shop in Matawan, NJ, back in September 2000 with no experience or knowledge in the field. In 2001 my husband and I (a native of the Lehigh Valley) moved to PA and I landed a job with another financial services company and the rest is history. I wasn’t looking for this career (truthfully, I don’t know what I was looking for), but it found me and I believe it suits me well. I’ve experienced so many different facets of this business and each one brings its challenges, but that’s the part I love. I’m a problem solver by nature, and no problem is too large for me to tackle. The bigger the challenge, the better. There is nothing better than being able to come up with an answer to a problem and put someone’s mind at ease. I am persistent at getting answers to questions and solutions to problems with the most favorable outcomes for my clients. Client interactions and getting to know people on a more personal level is one of the things I love about my job.
When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my husband, Jon, and being a dance mom to my daughter Alana, and a soccer mom to my daughter Breanne. I also enjoy reading, doing puzzles, snuggling with my kitties Aspen and Rambo and watching the Denver Broncos.