Avi K.  Pai
Avi K. Pai39

Managing partner,
Provence Wealth Management Group

Fast Facts

  • First job was as a restaurant server.
  • Would like to dine with Mr. Rogers, Robin Williams and Thomas Jefferson.
  • Guilty pleasure is Cajun food.

Family influence was undeniable for Avi Pai, whose father is a computer programmer and mother a certified financial planner. A Pittsburgh native, the younger Mr. Pai initially followed in his father's footsteps and earned a B.S. in computer science. However, it didn't take long before he realized he wanted a profession that allowed him more interaction with people. Following his mother's suggestion, he took a few CFP classes to learn about personal finance.

"After two of them, I decided 'I like this,'" said Mr. Pai, who soon stepped away from his computer programming job to join the industry and complete his CFP certification. In 2007, he co-founded his hybrid RIA practice, which now manages more than $200 million in assets. He has also been teaching CFP classes for his alma mater, the University of California, Irvine, for the past 12 years.

His early career change was a scary one.

"Leaving the computer programming field felt like I was jumping out of an airplane," he said. "There's no turning back, so it made me very motivated."

Programming and financial planning share several traits, Mr. Pai said.

"There's the idea of designing something, combining different ideas together and building something," he said. "Whether it's computer programming, portfolio construction, chemistry, composing music — there's a science and an art to it."

— Deborah Nason

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