Gary Cappon, CLU, LUTCF, RICP, FSCP, CLTC, is the President of NAIFA-NY and has been a loyal NAIFA member since 2006. He practices with Cadaret Grant & Co., in Syracuse, NY, where he is the Vice President of Sales and Fixed Annuity Insurance Solutions and assists financial professionals from all over the country with every aspect of the planning process. This role enables him to use his knowledge and skills to provide solutions to complex problems.
Cappon describes his introduction to the financial services industry as “accidental.” He and his brother had just closed a restaurant when a friend of his recommended that he apply for the open position in their back office. After working there for just a few years, he “moved over to the local Guardian office and started getting more involved with the sales support side of the business and has been working with financial professionals ever since.”
Cappon explains that while he did need a job after the closing of his restaurant, what attracted him to the industry was the fact that it offers “a real opportunity to improve people’s lives.” He elaborates, “it’s different from other professions in that the more successful you become, the more lives you touch and the greater the difference you can make.” Today, Cappon believes that the best part of his job is “the people.” He states “I don’t deal directly with consumers; I work with financial advisors. This industry is made up of some of the most wonderful, caring, and generous people. When I was President of the Syracuse chapter of NAIFA, during our legislative breakfast I thought it would be a good idea to have each of our members stand up and tell our elected officials of the other volunteer organizations they were involved with. There was not a single member that wasn’t involved in some charity in their community. I can’t imagine there is another industry where you find that.”
Cappon joined NAIFA after being invited to a meeting by a friend of his who was an established financial professional in his office. He explains that he “decided to join after getting to know the other members and seeing the quality of the people who were already associated with the organization, as well as the important work that NAIFA does to benefit our industry.” What Cappon admired most about the association was the advocacy, stating, “when it comes to NAIFA, it starts and ends with the advocacy, they’re really the only voice out there [protecting] financial professionals.”
When it comes to NAIFA’s advocacy and the role it plays in protecting the financial professionals Cappon represents, he believes it is critical, especially in his home state of New York. “I live and work in a state that is the most progressive in implementing rules and regulations that affect our industry, having the ability to see what the financial industry environment looks like outside of New York has really opened my eyes to how out of step the state is with what others are doing. Many of these rules sound great […] but they have negative ramifications in our industry and it's critical to have an organization that advocates for us” says Cappon. He expresses his concerns with the government potentially utilizing tax-favorable investments as an additional form of revenue, stating, “with the vast amounts of money that the government has been spending over the last few years, [we could see] some of the tax-favored investment options like life insurance and annuities ending up in the discussion as an additional source of revenue for the government.”
Cappon has participated in many events with NAIFA including the Legislative Breakfast he held at NAIFA-Syracuse, NAIFA-NY Day on the Hill, and NAIFA’s Congressional Conference. He describes how the Congressional Conference is one of his favorite events, stating, “hands down the Congressional Conference [is] a tremendous experience. Being able to walk the halls of Congress is an unbelievable experience. So often our industry is rolled up as being Wall Street when we’re really Main Street. Being able to sit down with our elected officials and tell them about the important work we do and how we affect our clients’ lives is a really rewarding experience.”
Cappon encourages his fellow members that may have reservations about getting involved with NAIFA’s advocacy efforts with a witty quote “if you’re not on the table, you’re on the menu.” He explains how NAIFA makes participation stress free “NAIFA does a great job putting together the talking points and teaming you up with people who have done it before so there’s no reason for you to be intimidated because they do a great job of preparing you for it.” Cappon believes that the experience at the Congressional Conference is not much different from many financial professionals’ day-to-day work, which ultimately makes the experience that much better. He states, “it’s a lot like what you would do in your daily business, you’re telling stories and trying to relate to them and have them relate to you as a person who is impactful in your community.”
After years of working with financial professionals and witnessing all the benefits, Cappon encourages others to explore the career path. He says, “a career in the financial services industry has so many benefits, you get to be your own boss, run your own business, and create the business experience that you want to provide for your clients. There is no one-size-fits-all, everyone has the chance to create something and make it their own. [Personally], the most important thing is that it allows you to work at something that makes a difference.”
Thank you, Gary, for your loyal service and leadership to our industry and association. We’re #NAIFAproud to call you one of our own.