About the Firm
Western Financial Corporation is a California state registered investment advisor (“RIA”) and FINRA registered broker/dealer dedicated to providing individuals and institutional clients with a wide array of investment advisory and investment banking services. We are a privately-owned corporation headquartered in San Diego, California and have continuously maintained registration as a broker/dealer since 1971. More recently, we became an RIA to better assist our clients in meeting their financial goals.
Richard S. Levenson
President, Chief Executive Officer & Chief Investment Officer
Rick has been with the company since 1988. He holds the Series 24 (General Securities Principal), Series 4 (Registered Options Principal), Series 55 (Equity Trader), Series 66 (Uniform Combined State Law Registration), Series 79 (Investment Banking Representative), Series 99 (Operations Professional) and Series 7 (General Securities Representative) registrations as well as a Bachelors Degree in Sociology from Pitzer College (The Claremont Colleges) and a Masters of Business Administration in International Finance from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Rick also completed undergraduate and graduate studies at the American University of Rome (Rome, Italy) and the Ecole Superieure de Sciences Economiques et Commerciales (Paris, France). Prior to joining Western Financial Corporation, he was employed by Intrading, SA in Geneva, Switzerland where he was responsible for the management of a portfolio of equities and options, as well as Eurobonds diversified across multiple currencies. Rick currently serves on the Board of Directors of Seacoast Commerce Banc Holdings (Rancho Bernardo, CA).
Previously, he served as a director of Pacific Commerce Bancorp (Los Angeles, CA), Palomar Community Bank (Escondido, CA) and Cuyamaca Bank (Santee, CA) and was prior Chairman of the Asset and Trust Committee for the Grossmont Hospital Foundation and served on the Finance Committee of the San Diego Yacht Club.
Howard B. Levenson
Howard holds the Series 24 (General Securities Principal), Series 28 (Financial Operations Principal), Series 53 (Registered Municipal Securities Principal), Series 55 (Equity Trader), Series 79 (Investment Banking Representative), Series 99 (Operations Professional) and Series 7 (General Securities Representative) registrations as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from San Diego State University. He has been involved in various managerial positions in the securities industry since 1965. Howard is Chief Compliance Officer of the broker/dealer.
Howard has served as a member of the Board of Directors of several publicly held companies listed on the New York and American Stock Exchanges, NASDAQ and the over-the-counter markets. In addition, he served as a member of the Board of Directors of Southwest Bancorp, Southwest Bank and Southwest Thrift and Loan from 1985 until they were sold in 1989. In 1996, he became an organizer and then Chairman of the Board of Southwest Community Bancorp and served in that capacity until it sold in 2006. Howard became an organizer of Vibra Bank in 2007 and was appointed as Chairman in 2014. The bank was merged with a Los Angeles based bank in 2015 at which time Howard retired. Howard is a prior Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Grossmont Hospital Foundation and has served as a Board member and advisor to several community organizations.
Darren J. Caris
Darren holds a degree in economics from the University of California at San Diego. He also holds the Series 7 (General Securities Representative), Series 24 (General Securities Principal), Series 55 (Equity Trader), Series 63 (Uniform Securities Act), and Series 99 (Operations Professional) licenses. He is principally responsible for business development and consulting at Western Financial Corporation.
Darren has 25 year’s of investment management experience. He is a former proprietary trader with significant equity research experience and was the founder and CEO of Caris & Company, which was consistently one of the highest rated research firms on Wall Street. Darren began his career at Gruntal & Co. as a proprietary trader before joining Torrey Pines Securities as Vice President in 1996 where he created an institutional sales and equity trading infrastructure for the firm. In 1999, he joined Granite Financial Group as a partner and was responsible for managing and growing the Capital Markets division. In 2002, Darren formed Caris & Company with the goal of becoming Wall Street’s leading research-driven boutique investment bank. With offices in London, New York, Boston, San Francisco, and San Diego Caris & Company focused on small-cap to multi-billion dollar companies in Semiconductors, Retail, Health Care, Software, Energy, Biotechnology, and Media. Caris & Company was the recipient of over 70 different Starmine awards (Including #1 Stock Picker and #3 overall Globally), over 50 Wall Street Journal awards, and top honors in numerous Greenwich surveys before being acquired by B. Riley & Company in December, 2012.
Steven M. Levenson
Sr. Vice-President / Financial Advisor
Steven is Sr. Vice President and a third generation financial advisor at Western Financial Corporation. He joined the firm in 2017 shortly after graduating from Northern Arizona University. Steven received his Bachelors of Science in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Business Administration. He is passionate about investing and is dedicated to assisting prospective and current clients in achieving their financial goals. Providing high quality service to his clients and being involved in the local community is of paramount importance to Steven. He holds the Series 7 (General Securities Representative) and Series 63 (Uniform Securities Act) licenses. Steven is also responsible for the daily trading of all of the community bank stocks the firm follows.
Vice President, Administration & Operations
Judy joined Western Financial Corporation in 2013 and is responsible for the firm’s day-to-day back office operations which include account processing, account transfers, deposits and wire transfers, bookkeeping and assistance with compliance and trade execution. Previously, she was with Caris & Company for over 10 years where she was involved in various operations, compliance and administrative positions.
Judy studied Business Administration at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee and holds the Series 7 (General Securities Representative), Series 24 (General Securities Principal), Series 63 (Uniform Securities Act), and Series 99 (Operations Professional) registrations.
Compliance Officer and Financial and Operations Principal (FinOp)
Sandie is the Compliance Officer of the RIA and is the Financial and Operations Principal of the broker/dealer. She has over 20 years of experience in senior management within the brokerage industry and has spent her career running the operations, finance and compliance departments of several independent broker/dealers in the Southwest. Prior to her tenure with smaller broker/dealer firms she was the Chief Investment Officer for Maricopa County where she ran the investments for the $1.5 billion general fund. She also helped establish a brokerage presence for Northern Trust Bank in Arizona.
Sandie graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Science in Accounting from Western International University. She holds her FINRA Series 4 (Registered Options Principal), Series 7 (General Securities Representative), Series 24 (General Securities Principal), Series 27 (Financial and Operations Principal), Series 66 (Uniform Combined State Law Registration), Series 79 (Investment Banking Representative) and Series 99 (Operations Professional) licenses.
Front Office Operations
Mariela joined Western Financial Corporation in 2007. She is responsible for opening new client accounts, updating existing account files, processing securities and account paperwork between the firm and its custodians and preparing daily order and trade blotter reports. She is oftentimes the first to greet clients when they call or visit the firm.