Albany Business Review interviews Ron Guzior and Gary Sancilio About Forming a New Company

BST & Co. CPAs has created a new wealth management division called Affinity BST Advisors following a merger between BST Wealth Management LLC and The Affinity Group, a boutique wealth management firm.

The Affinity Group was started by Gary Sancilio and Nicholas Preddice 20 years ago. The firm has stayed under the radar, and was looking for a partner to offer clients more services. The merger closed in May.

Ron Guzior, managing partner of BST, said it's a joint venture where BST Advisors owns a part and Affinity owns a part. He said it will build on the services the firm already offers.

"What we realized is that one of BST's strengths is serving closely held and family-owned businesses," Guzior said. "Those families and the people who own them and run them are busy people. They relied on BST for a lot of things and would often hear, 'How do we pass on my business?' 'What do we do with my wealth and estate?' 'How do I take care of mom and dad and kids?'"

"Adding a financial planning firm as a partner helps our clients answer those questions and solve those problems," he added.

Sancilio and Guzior were introduced to each other last year — an extended member of Guzior's family is Sancilio's neighbor. They met for breakfast at the Latham Circle Diner in September 2020. Both had oatmeal.

"We left going wow, the culture, the value, the drive, everything we felt like we were talking the same vision of what the client experience should be," Sancilio said. "Maybe it could be more of a one stop place to service, if we need legal work or accounting work or business valuations, we provide them with all of that."

Sancilio had been in financial services and was a trusts and estates attorney for 30 years. He started the firm with Preddice with a client-centric approach using a fee-for-service model, rather than fee-for-product.

"One thing I learned early on is to look at it not from a product standpoint, but from what the client actually wanted," Sancilio said. "Their values, their business, their family. It doesn’t matter what someone's wealth is, they need advice to help them. Once I realized that it changed the way I looked at the industry."

Sancilio said the firm had stayed small and low-key over the last two decades to remain genuine to their clients. But it became clear it was time for a change.

"As our clients got wealthier, we needed more resources," Sancilio said. "We have the trusts and estates background, we have tax, but we couldn't do everything. As things became more sophisticated as things went, that’s how the merger started."

The merger is already paying off. One client of Affinity's that's looking to sell its business needs a valuation done. With the merger, they were able to do the valuation in house.

Guzior said that was a big draw for BST too.

"Affinity BST Advisors will be a national driver of business to us," Guzior said. "We’re taking the strengths that Gary and Nick had with The Affinity Group in identifying people who need this help, and bringing this planning to them and matching it up with BST."