John focuses on helping clients work toward their retirement dreams through a well-thought-out financial strategy for retirement.
With more than 12 years of experience in the financial services industry, John is a nationally recognized financial educator, speaker and author passionate about helping people think about their wealth from a new perspective. He specializes in helping people realize how they may leave a legacy not just with their money but of their values and influence in their community.
John is a financial professional who can offer investment and insurance products and services. He graduated summa cum laude from Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky College of Law.
John has been a guest on many financial shows, including CNBC’s Squawk Box and Power Lunch and KHOW’s 630AM’s daily show, The Troubleshooter with Tom Martino. He has published articles in Fortune, Forbes and CNNMoney, among others, and authored two books.
Chief Strategy Officer
Chief Strategy Officer
Rita Krans is a skilled and experienced Chief Strategy Implementation Officer who is dedicated to finding solutions and driving success. With a strong track record in leadership and project management, she has a wealth of experience supporting company leaders with critical functions and providing outstanding administrative support to executive teams.
Rita is a goal-oriented individual with exceptional judgment, backed by years of experience and in-depth insight. She draws on the diverse skill set she acquired while running various child development facilities and her own marketing business to bring a strong leadership and administrative background to her role at APO Financial.
With nearly two decades of experience in both the early childhood and business arenas, Rita has built an impressive career. She began her career in the mortgage industry but soon switched focus to early childhood education and opened her own child development center. Rita has studied early childhood education, special education, and administration, and has held positions as a Director at an accredited center on MTU’s campus and as Assistant Director of Virtual Programs at the Public Schools of CLK.
Rita’s passion for contributing to her community extends into the outreach space, where she has served as the Board President for RCL, Inc. since 2019. She is an active participant in the Bootjack Fun Run 9.06k, donating all proceeds to a local charity and supporting First Responders.
Following her experience in childhood education administration, Rita has returned to the finance sector with a focus on financial advisory and retirement services. She brings her experience in managing staff, financials, and key performance indicators, as well as solving top-level, high-priority issues with professional administrative discretion to her role at APO Financial.
Rita is based in Denver, CO. In her leisure time, she enjoys snowboarding, reading, traveling, and indulging in all things food, particularly chocolate and gummy bears. Rita also values spending quality time with friends and family.
Chief Operating Officer
Sasha graduated summa cum laude from Northwestern University with a degree in Communications, focusing on theater and dance. She spent 10 years in Chicago’s magnificent theatre scene, working with many prestigious theater companies and winning a Jeff Award for her performance in Red Light Winter at Mary-Arrchie Theatre. In 2014 she moved to California with her studly husband Derrick and pursued a new passion – wine! Immersing herself in all aspects of the business – running a wine shop, becoming a Certified Sommelier, and teaching consumer wine classes – she eventually decided to create her own wine education business Vinolust which offered online wine classes, in person tastings and wine focused travel planning.
After giving birth to a micro preemie miracle baby on January 1, 2022, she is delighted to join the APO Financial Team with a goal of helping people and families find financial well-being and long-term security.
Sasha, Derrick, and their gorgeous son Tygo currently reside in Huntington Beach, California, where they take full advantage of the beautiful landscape to go hiking, beaching, exploring and, of course, wine tasting.
Director of Operations
Director of Operations
Caitlin joined APO Financial in August 2014. A driven individual, she worked her way from serving as the firm’s receptionist and appointment scheduler to her current position as the firm’s primary financial paraplanner, helping the firm’s financial advisors design retirement plans for all the firm’s clients. She is on the path to becoming a financial advisor.
In her free time, Caitlin enjoys spending time with her husband, Matt, their daughter, Kya, their 1-year-old twins, and their two dogs, Boomer and Moose. Originally from Kentucky, she is an avid University of Kentucky basketball fan. She also enjoys snowboarding, camping and four-wheeling.
Scott Mallernee, CRPC®
Advisor, Florida Office
Scott grew up in the Ozarks in Missouri on his family farm, which was homesteaded in the late 1800s. Understanding hard work and long hours, he had a strong desire to build a life for his own family that gleaned from his family’s dedication and tenacity to survive and thrive off their land. The first in his family to earn a degree from college, Scott always felt the need to make the most of his opportunities. He came to APO with a wealth of experience in the private business world. He has owned and operated his own business for over 10 years, committing daily to bootstrapping and developing a successful business. From sales and operations to finance, Scott has experienced business planning at every level. He can relate to the rigor of building from the ground up and the diligence it takes to protect what you have worked for. He now leverages his experience to help others plan out their retirement and financial legacy.
An avid sports fan, Scott especially loves baseball. For nearly 15 years he played and/or coached college baseball. From 2005-2008, he also scouted professionally for the Atlanta Braves. He spent time on the field with and coached several notable Major League baseball players like World Series MVP Freddie Freeman, Gerrit Cole, Mike Moustakas and Nolan Arenado.
Scott is also a connoisseur of fine spirits with an affinity for single malt scotch. He has led a whisky club with members all over the country and has been the host and keynote speaker for whisky tasting events in California. If you want to chat about whisky, you may not be able to get him to stop talking.
Scott is married to his beautiful wife of 10-plus years, Jessica. She is a concierge hair stylist. Scott is opening up APO’s new Florida office in Palm Beach Gardens.
Leah Trietiak, CRPC®
Advisor, Florida Office
Leah joined our Palm Beach Garden team with the goal of bringing APO’s vision of comprehensive retirement guidance to the growing Florida area. Having spent over a decade at companies such as UBS and Morgan Stanley, Leah brings a wealth of experience in financial services. In her most recent role as Wealth Strategy Associate, she worked with clients and advisors on financial and estate planning. She enjoys providing a holistic client relationship experience and strives to assist her team in delivering clients the peace of mind they are looking for.
In her spare time, you will find Leah at football practice with her two boys, Jack, and Wurth. She’s an avid beach volleyballer and her boxer dog, Butkus, has his own Instagram.
Advisor, Colorado Office
Eric grew up in Southern California, attended Mater Dei Catholic High School and was a standout athlete in multiple sports. Eric was awarded a scholarship to play college soccer and moved to Colorado in August 1999, where he met his wife, Courtney. Eric and Courtney have two daughters, Olivia, 15, and Charlotte, 11. For the last handful of years, he has coached both of his daughters’ travel softball teams, leading them to several of the nation’s most prestigious tournaments.
He began his career as a licensed financial advisor directly out of college and gained a wealth of industry knowledge in a very short period of time. For the last six years, Eric has focused his expertise on the retirement plan industry, helping employees navigate the complexities of their corporate retirement plan, showcasing the importance of financial education and helping them to improve their financial literacy.
Eric joined the APO team in late 2021 and is tasked with managing retirement plans for APO clients. In addition, Eric has helped to develop a dedicated service for business owners which focuses on all aspects of their personal and professional legacies.
Relationship Development Specialist
Relationship Development Specialist
An Upper Peninsula of Michigan native, Matthew joined the APO team in September of 2022 where his focus is on building and supporting relationships along the retirement journey.
Matthew has years of business experience that includes sales, marketing and management in radio broadcasting, healthcare, and education. His focus has always been on helping others grow into their goals. From volunteer coaching youth baseball, softball, and ice hockey, to working closely with adolescence navigating their educational journey, to helping entrepreneurs plan, grow and succeed in their business, he has always had their interests at heart.
In his spare time, he enjoys playing golf, watching football, hockey, and softball, and staying connected to his grown children, Tyler and Taylor, and the great things they are achieving.
Assistant Director of Operations
Assistant Director of Operations
David Piatt is a seasoned pension specialist, a former national Top 10 life insurance producer for the world's 6th largest insurance group and a standout professional that has dedicated himself to teaching the unparalleled benefits of indexed universal life to thousands of financial professionals and consumers alike for more than 14 years. David has also led nationwide agent/agency development initiatives to recruit, train and coach hundreds of like-minded insurance and financial professionals across the country for one of the insurance industry’s most respected and accomplished individual life insurance experts and trainers.
David is considered a gifted specialist in the areas of personal financial literacy and wealth mastery and has authored several papers on the distinct and proven merits of indexed insurance products as predictable and safe alternatives to the more conventional strategies for achieving long-term financial peace of mind. He is also recognized as one of the foremost authorities on the powerful “personal banking system” concept.
As a seasoned and respected financial coach, David strives to show people from virtually any walk of life how to dramatically transform their financial mindset and outlook for the better by creating positive expectations paired with the long-term peace of mind that comes from understanding and employing alternative, time-tested and proven-predictable asset accumulation strategies and tools.
Today David continues to share innovative and proven real-world strategies for countering individuals’ toughest money challenges. He applies a practical and engaging style to teaching battle-tested techniques that are shown to predictably produce consistent “safer-money” results even in tough economic conditions. By applying a sincere focus to enhancing the financial well-being of his student clients, David works tirelessly to help households become more highly literate and proficient at controlling their financial destiny.
David is a long-time resident of Colorado and graduated with honors and a Bachelor of Science in business management from the top-rated College of Business at Colorado State University. For more than 20 years, he has held sales and management positions and delivered guidance and results to hundreds of companies around the U.S., from the small startup to the Fortune 50. He has also helped design, build and manage the sales and operational infrastructure of several different enterprises.
- National speaker and financial literacy educator
- Former Top 10 life agent for all of U.S. for sixth largest insurance group in the world
- Former chapter president/cofounder of the Mile High Chapter of the Society for Financial Awareness (SOFA - 501(c) 3 nonprofit speakers bureau, San Diego)
- Endorsed affiliate resource of Cambridge Credit Counseling - a national nonprofit credit counseling organization (http://www.cambridge-credit.org/)
- Denver-area volunteer for Junior Achievement
Heather is a native to Colorado. She joined the APO Team in Late 2021 bringing 25 years of experience in customer service. She has extensive training in leadership and management Heather is married and has 2 children and house full of pets. Her teenager keeps her very busy with year-round competitive cheer.
In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and spending time with friends and family making memories.
Administrative Assistant, Michigan Office
Laura joined the APO Financial team in 2023 to open their first Michigan office. She is a
highly accomplished and dedicated leader and project manager. She brings almost two
decades of experience in business development, project management, team leadership, and
industry advancement. Her keen ability to foster and maintain client relationships through
trust, accountability, and attention to detail provides a top-notch experience tailored to each
client she works with.
Before joining APO Financial, Laura developed a rich background in business development,
travel, and public education. Having studied social sciences and industrial psychology, she
brings a well-rounded perspective to the financial industry, bridging the gap between the
technical aspects of finance and the human elements involved in decision-making and
organizational success. She is committed to learning about continuous improvement
strategies combined with real-time analysis to bring world-class service to the Copper
Country and the APO Financial community.
Laura's leisure pursuits are diverse and multifaceted, reflecting her passion for adventure,
knowledge, and personal growth. She is an avid world traveler, skate skier, enthusiastic
reader, and dedicated foodie. Her devotion to family, friends, and her three dogs is a
testament to her caring and compassionate nature. Laura's diverse interests reflect her
dynamic personality and her commitment to living life to the fullest.
Advisor, Michigan Office
John Croze is a dedicated educator and community leader known for his exceptional contributions to the students and community of Calumet, Michigan. Born and raised in the heart of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, John developed a passion for education and sports early in life. After earning his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Michigan Technological University in 1993, he embarked on a lifelong journey dedicated to shaping young minds and fostering a spirit of excellence.
His journey in the world of education began at Calumet High School, where he started coaching in 1991 before transitioning to a teaching role after his graduation from Michigan Tech. Over the next three decades, John's unwavering commitment to his students and athletes helped him carve out a distinguished career at Calumet High School.
John's excellence as an educator and coach was recognized through various prestigious accolades, including the title of Calumet High School Teacher of the Year in 2011 and Superior Educator of the Month for September 2022. His leadership and coaching prowess in football and track were celebrated with multiple awards and championships. John was also a volunteer assistant for the girls’ basketball team when they won the 2015 Michigan Class C State Championship. His influence extended beyond the local community, as evidenced by his role as a speaker at various football clinics and his coaching engagements at the U.P. All-Star Football Game and the MHSFCA Michigan All-Star Game. John was also on the Michigan Football Coaches Association Board of Directors.
In June 2022, John's outstanding contributions to high school football were honored as he was inducted into the Michigan High School Football Hall of Fame, a testament to his enduring impact on the sport in the state.
Outside the realm of education, John remains actively involved in community initiatives. As the Treasurer of RCL, Inc., a non-profit organization promoting health and wellness in the Keweenaw, he plays a pivotal role in organizing the annual Bootjack 9.06K, an event that raises funds for local charities and groups.
In October 2023, John Croze took on a new endeavor as he opened the Michigan Office for APO Financial, bringing his expertise, leadership, and passion for excellence to the realm of financial management. With his rich background in education, coaching, and community service, John is poised to make a significant impact in his new role, continuing to serve and uplift the Copper Country community in innovative and impactful ways.