Our Team

Paul Morelli

CFA, CFP®, CAIA
Managing Partner

Paul Morelli is the Managing Partner of Vernal Point Advisors and founded the firm in 2012. In his role he leads the design of customized family offices for clients and is involved in the design and integration of their tax and investment strategies.

Paul previously established and managed a single-family office in San Francisco, worked as an advisor at a bicoastal multi-family office, and worked as a management consultant. He is a Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst and a Chartered Financial Analyst. He received his B.A. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Over the course of Paul’s career, he has focused on developing educational programs on advanced wealth management topics. From 2011 to 2017, he established and chaired a regional alliance of non-profit professional associations focused on training wealth advisors to better serve the public. He has also trained the next generation of ultra-high net worth families to be better stewards of their financial and philanthropic resources.

Kevin Goldstein

Chief Investment Officer

Kevin Goldstein is the Chief Investment Officer at Vernal Point Advisors. At Vernal Point, Kevin leads the firm’s investment strategy, manager research, and portfolio construction efforts.

Kevin has over 20 years of experience building and managing portfolios as both a direct investor and as an allocator of capital.  Prior to joining Vernal Point, Kevin was a Director at Stanford Management Company, which is the organization that oversees Stanford University’s $26 billion in endowment assets. At Stanford, he sourced and underwrote investment opportunities across the portfolio, reported to an internal asset allocation team, and launched a successful co-invest program. He was also part of a small team that re-underwrote and restructured the portfolio following a CIO transition in 2014. Prior to his work at Stanford, Kevin was also an Investment Fellow at the University of California Regents, which manages approximately $115 billion in assets on behalf of the 10 UC universities. In this role, Kevin helped the public equity team identify, strengthen, and scale its best partnership opportunities worldwide.

Prior to Stanford, Kevin was a direct investor and founding partner at two hedge funds, Great Gable Partners in San Francisco, and Arcanum Capital in Chicago. The limited partners in both funds were large families from around the globe. Kevin started his career as an equity analyst at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (DLJ) in New York and London.

Kevin holds a B.A. in American Studies, cum laude, from Amherst College and a M.B.A. from Stanford University.

Kristi Kuechler

Managing Director, Client Relations

Kristi Kuechler is Managing Director of Client Relations at Vernal Point.  She oversees client education and communication for Vernal Point.

Kristi joins Vernal Point after more than two decades working with affluent families as an educator and advocate.  She was recently Managing Director, Investor Market, at Family Office Exchange (FOX).  In this role, she oversaw all investment initiatives for a membership of nearly 400 families (average investable asset base of $500 million).  At FOX, she developed the biannual Global Investment Forums and led the annual Global Investment Surveys.  Kristi also oversaw the FOX Direct Investing Network, a group of 130 families/family offices actively engaged in investing directly in operating businesses and real estate.  She was the primary Relationship Manager for more than 50 FOX members and opened the West Coast office.

Kristi joined FOX after five years as Partner and Managing Director of Lattice Strategies, an investment firm based in San Francisco.  Lattice grew out of the single-family office of a well-regarded  investor. Prior to her work at Lattice, Kristi served as President of the Institute for Private Investors (IPI), a membership organization of 380 affluent families.  At IPI, she was responsible for content and curriculum development and oversaw all matters related to membership, creating more than 900 sessions on topics relating to families and investing during her tenure.   Kristi also created a Private Wealth Management program at Stanford University and ran it for three years.  In 2010, she was named to the 50 Top Women in Wealth Management (ThinkAdvisor).*

Kristi has a B.A. from the University of California-Davis, and a M.A. from Stanford University.

* as selected by an advisory board of distinguished women involved in the wealth management business.




Michael J. Lewis

CFP®
Director of Wealth Strategies

Michael Lewis is the Director of Wealth Strategies at Vernal Point Advisors and joined the firm in 2015. In this role he works with Vernal Point’s most complex clients (multi-generational families, GPs of elite investment firms, and founders of public and private companies) to help provide decision context and strategic organization around their wealth planning objectives. He is also involved in the development of the firm's financial decision-making tools, portfolio construction methods, and systems. He is instrumental in helping Vernal Point deliver cost-efficient customization and wealth planning services to our client base.

From 2008 to 2015, Michael worked at Aspiriant, where he served as a wealth manager to over 50 affluent families and family office clients and was deeply involved in developing the firm's wealth planning tools and intellectual property.

Michael was a contributing author to the book "Managing Concentrated Stock Wealth: An Advisor's Guide to Building Customized Solutions, 2nd Edition," published in 2016. He received his B.A. in Literature from the UC San Diego. He is a Certified Financial Planner.

Elisabeth MacKnight

Chief Operating Officer

Elisabeth MacKnight is the Chief Operating Officer for Vernal Point Advisors where she is responsible for overseeing operational matters for the firm.

Elisabeth has over 20 years of experience in financial services across all areas of operations including legal, compliance, finance, and front, back and middle office operations.  Prior to Vernal Point, Elisabeth served as  COO, CFO, & CCO at a start-up healthcare fund and was CFO for a boutique marketing firm focused on alternative investments.  She spent over 10 years at Conifer Securities (now SS&C), a multi-product service provider for hedge funds and investment advisors, where she held a variety of roles including Director of Client Transition Services.  At Conifer, Elisabeth oversaw the integration of all new clients onto the Conifer service platform and consulted with investment advisors across several hundred fund and account launches.  Prior to Conifer, Elisabeth worked as a legal analyst on the product development team at Scudder Weisel Capital, an asset management joint venture between Thomas Weisel Partners and Scudder Investments that focused on registered alternative investments. Elisabeth began her career in financial services in the legal department at WR Hambrecht + Co, where she worked closely with the private equity division to develop and administer 40+ early-stage investment ventures.  Most recently, Elisabeth has provided consulting services to several multi-billion dollar asset managers where she has overseen the integration of firm operations and workflows during corporate restructures and mergers.

Elisabeth graduated summa cum laude from Georgia State University with a B.A. in English Literature and was a doctoral fellow at the University of Southern California.



Alexis Middle

Director of Client Operations

Alexis Middle is Director of Client Operations and orchestrates all aspects of client service to complement the technical service delivery teams at Vernal Point Advisors.  Drawing on her background as an operations executive, she also plays an integral role in the administration of the firm.

Alexis has over 20 years of industry experience working closely with affluent individuals and their teams.  Most recently, Alexis spent over 7 years at Evercore ISI, a leading global independent investment bank, where she joined the sales team and assisted in growing the San Francisco office.  Prior to joining Evercore ISI, Alexis was the Director of Operations for over ten years at Willow Creek Capital Management, a hedge fund.  At Willow Creek, she was an integral part of the management team that helped the fund grow assets from $200 million to over $1 billion.  Alexis was the primary contact for all investor-related inquiries and was responsible for all accounting, legal,  prime broker, compliance and back office operations.

Alexis received her B.A. in English Literature from the University of Michigan.

Leigh Shimamoto

JD, CFP®
Director, Wealth Management

Leigh Shimamoto is Director of Wealth Management at Vernal Point Advisors and oversees the financial planning processes the firm implements for each client and serves as an advisor on client teams.

Prior to joining Vernal Point, Leigh was an advisor at Aspiriant, a $12+ billion independent wealth management firm in San Francisco where she worked with affluent individuals and their families, most of whom are corporate executives of companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs and professionals. Her primary focus was on assisting executives with concentrated stock positions, implementing 10b5-1 stock sales plans and executive compensation. While at Aspiriant, she managed one of their corporate engagements with a Fortune 500 company, overseeing the firm’s wealth management services to the company’s C-suite and other top level executives.

Leigh graduated with a B.A. from University of California, San Diego and J.D. from Santa Clara University, School of Law. She also attended Oxford University and received an International Law Certificate in Comparative Law. Leigh is a Certified Financial Planner.  Leigh currently leads the Financial Services Alliance, an organization co-founded by Paul Morelli in 2011 and comprised of a consortium of financial membership organizations whose mission is the continuing education of wealth advisory professionals.

John Turcik

CPWA®
Director of Portfolio Management

John Turcik is Director of Portfolio Management at Vernal Point Advisors and leads the day-to-day implementation of each client’s tax-optimized custom investment strategy. He works closely with the firm’s wealth strategy, investment research, and financial operations teams to ensure that client portfolios are invested thoughtfully to address each aspect of their holistic wealth picture.

Prior to joining Vernal Point, John was the head of the San Francisco office of Veritable, LP, a $15 billion independent wealth advisory firm serving affluent individuals and families. In over 13 years with Veritable, John worked with many of their largest and most complex client engagements, including multiple Forbes 400 families and their associated foundations. John has been involved with all aspects of the wealth management process, with particular emphasis on developing customized, after-tax asset allocation strategy and coordinating multi-generational wealth transfer and giving strategies.

John graduated from Swarthmore College in 2005 with a B.A. in Economics. He earned his M.B.A. from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania with majors in Finance and Marketing & Operations Strategy. He graduated with highest honors and was named a Palmer Scholar for outstanding academic achievement. John holds the Certified Private Wealth Advisor® (CPWA®) certification, administered by the Investments & Wealth Institute and taught in conjunction with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Liz Wu

CFP®
Director of Financial Operations

Liz Wu is the Director of Financial Operations at Vernal Point Advisors.  She handles all operational tasks necessary to implement and maintain client investments, assists with portfolio reporting, executes security transactions and cashiering requests, and supports clients in all other administrative matters.

Prior to joining Vernal Point, Liz worked in Investment Operations at Aspiriant, collaborating closely with over 60 households and their Wealth Managers.  She also helped manage the internal trading platform and innovate operational workflows for greater efficiency.  Liz began her career in the financial services industry over 10 years ago as an independent advisor to individual and small business clients.  Liz worked with clients to develop comprehensive financial plans, addressing areas such as concentrated stock positions, tax efficiency, and retirement and estate planning strategies.  Over time, she shifted her focus to operations, where she could help effectively execute complex plans and transactions.

Liz received her B.A. in Economics from UC Berkeley and is a Certified Financial Planner.

Richard Faw

CFA, CAIA, FSA
Director of Quantitative Research

Richard Faw is the Director of Quantitative Research at Vernal Point Advisors.  His role is to lead the development of the firm's capital market forecasts and its core asset allocation modelling. His varied professional training and experience allows the firm to bring quantitative rigor and consistency to the construction of highly customized portfolios.

Richard has over two decades of experience in the consulting and investment advisory business. Prior to joining Vernal Point, Richard founded Setarcos Investment Advisors in 2011 to work with families, trusts, and other taxable clients. Prior to then he worked for Mercer, a major multinational consulting firm, serving as the lead investment advisor to institutional investors with assets totaling more than $3 billion.

Richard earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from the University of the South, is a CFA Charterholder, a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst, a Certified Financial Risk Manager, a Certified Financial Planner and a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries.


Heidi Johnson

Chief Compliance Officer

Heidi is Chief Compliance Officer at Vernal Point and is responsible for developing and implementing the firm's regulatory compliance program.

Heidi has 20 years of experience in the financial services industry focusing on both operations and compliance. Since 2014 she has also been a Senior Compliance Consultant with Gordian Compliance Solutions providing compliance consulting services to registered investment advisors and broker-dealers. Prior to joining Vernal Point and Gordian, she spent seven years with Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management in London and San Francisco where she was a Vice President and held roles in Strategic Planning/Cost Management and Divisional Administration. Prior to that, she spent five years at JPMorgan Private Bank (formerly Hambrecht & Quist) as a Vice President and Administrative Manager. While there she was an integral member of the team responsible for migrating Hambrecht and Quist private clients onto the JPMorgan operational model.

Heidi received her B.A. in History and B.S. in Anthropology from the University of Utah and a Masters of Accountancy from Golden Gate University.