With financial planning representing both a humanistic art as well as an analytic science, David strikes the happy medium in his roles as a both a partner, David was promoted in July 2021, and as a wealth manager. Joining us in 2007, David has enjoyed building deep, durable relationships with many of our clients, assisting them personally with their financial life planning. We also often turn to David as a go-to resource for strengthening our technical capabilities, regulatory compliance, and data and analytical research standards.
Before joining us, David’s global experiences took him from two years of teaching English with the Peace Corps in Guinea, West Africa, to retail management with Sears, Roebuck, & Co. in Maine, to seven years as a “jack of all trades” at a North Carolina software company … back to his family home in Vermont, to provide his father with end-of-life care. While serving as executor and trustee for two small family trusts during this period, David saw first-hand the importance of objective financial and estate planning, discovering his own affinity for assisting others facing similar challenges within their families.
After completing the rigorous program and field work required, he obtained his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification in 2010. In addition to his credentials and professional experience, David is a member and proponent of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He and his wife Karla share their home in Connecticut with their newest beagles Lincoln and Mary Todd as well as their flying-the-nest children Erin and Zack as their time and circumstances allow.
From around the fourth grade on I was “Dave,” but since that didn’t translate well during my Peace Corps time in French-speaking Guinea, I switched to “David.” There are various ways people have tried to pronounce our last name (even mom apparently pronounced it incorrectly), but the way I explain it these days is that it’s “Principe” like “recipe.” As for the “J.” at the beginning, it keeps my professional designations consistent with my birth certificate and reminds me of my roots: “J” is for “John,” which I inherited from both my father & grandfather, but my folks wanted to mix it up & have me be my own person (or maybe they just wanted to avoid the confusion of which John was being called at any given moment). These days if someone calls me by my first name, it’s likely the DMV or a telemarketer, but those who know me stick with David or Dave. Take your pick!
Our family lake house in Vermont, where I first met my wife Karla, whose family had a house there too. What began as casual encounters as kids became a letter-writing romance during the end of college and my time in West Africa (tell me about your long distance relationship!). Fun fact: that first college letter that I sent to her had the wrong ZIP code, but fortunately the postmaster was a smart woman and (thank goodness!) my letter arrived in Karla’s mailbox anyway. After decades of visiting Vermont, we still love returning to our old stomping grounds there.
Even as a little boy, I remember my Italian grandmother’s favorite advice: “Pay yourself first!” At the time, I didn’t get it (“but Nonna – I already got paid -?”), but the phrase stuck with me nonetheless and I eventually caught onto the savings bug. My mom and dad both died young, and so in my mid-30s when I was thrust into a more complex financial situation than I knew what to do with, Karla and I sought the services of a reputable, Fee-Only financial planner through NAPFA. Linda Patchett quickly became a true partner, using her expertise to help the two of us get oriented & start down a solid path. That experience left a huge impression, especially when she suggested I might consider becoming a planner myself “someday.” “Someday” arrived sooner than later, and the following year when we relocated to Connecticut, I decided to take the plunge and to switch careers: within six months I had networked within the local NAPFA community, found Larry, and had begun my CFP® coursework. The rest , as they say, is history. These days, I pay it forward by helping show the ropes to our next-generation advisors starting out on their own journeys; by contributing to organizations like CFP Board’s Center for Financial Planning and NAPFA’s Consumer Education Foundation; and by reminding my clients to pay themselves first. (Thank you, Nonna!)
I enjoy projects around the house and outdoors, ranging from electrical work to a new dock at the lake to a butterfly house for our garden. One of the tools I appreciate the most is the chain saw. I have the utmost respect for it — ts capabilities and its risks. Connecticut storms often bring heavy snow and tree damage. It always feels good when I can help neighbors dig out as well.
In my profession, I’m very organized and analytical. Maybe that’s why one of my favorite hobbies is cultivating the volunteer plants that take seed in our compost pile. Pumpkins, squash, mango or avocado trees … you name it. Whatever goes to seed, we throw it in our front garden, mow around the vines, and wind up with a different crop each year. I love seeing what serendipity has in store for us next!
Ice skating. When the lake freezes solid and it’s clear and hard, there’s nothing better than getting out there, to just skate, skate, skate.