Validus Financial Associates
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Financial Planning Team

Robert E. Appel, J.D.*, LL.M., M.B.A.

Second Vice President of National Design/Advanced Planning

  • Member of the American and Connecticut Bar Associations.
  • B.S. degree (Accounting and Finance) from Central Connecticut State University; J.D. degree from the University of Bridgeport School of Law; M.B.A. (Finance) degree from the University of Connecticut; and LL.M. (Taxation) degree from Boston University School of Law.
  • *Licensed ot practicing.




Joseph Flynn, J.D.*

Design Attorney

  • Primary area of expertise: Advising Lincoln financial planners and their clients on a wide variety of estate planning and business succession issues with a particular emphasis on the family owned business.
  • Graduate of Yale University and The University of Connecticut School of Law.
  • *Licensed, not practicing.




Nasser Ali, CFA®, CFP®, AAMS®, CMFC®, CRPC®

Director of Financial Advisory Services

  • Prior experience as a portfolio manager responsible for managing customized investment portfolios totaling close to $400 million. B.S. degree in Finance from the University of Maryland.
  • Member of the Association of Investment Management and Research and the Baltimore Security Analysts Society. Published an article in the Encyclopedia of World Terrorism entitled“The Impact of 9/11 on the Global Economy.”




Celeste A. Gurulé, CFP®

Managing Director of Advisor Based Sales

Celeste A. Gurulé graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Economics. That same year Celeste joined California Fringe Benefit, an affiliate of Lincoln Financial Advisors, as a sales associate in the healthcare 403(b) marketplace. Celeste qualified for the Lincoln’s Club sales level nine times and for the Cabinet sales level one time.

In 1991, Celeste earned her CFP® certification.

In 1994, Celeste was appointed the Executive Vice President of Client Relations and Development for California Fringe Benefit.

On January 1, 2000, Celeste became the President of California Fringe Benefit.

On January 1, 2002, Celeste became the Regional CEO for California Fringe Benefit, when the organization became a freestanding regional planning office of Lincoln Financial Advisors. California Fringe Benefit is one of 39 such offices across the United States.

On September 1, 2003, Celeste and Bob Waldron became the Managing Directors of the newly formed Pacific Regional Planning Group. With her partner retiring, Celeste became the sole Managing Director in June 2005. The planning group comprised three regional planning offices. Celeste managed offices from Southern California to the Canadian border.

On April 1, 2006, Celeste took on a national role when she became the Managing Director of Advisor Based Sales a part of Lincoln Financial Group’s newly formed Employer Markets division, now called Lincoln Retirement Plan Services. Celeste leads 200 advisors in the employer-sponsored marketplace. Her areas of responsibility include planner growth and development, recruiting, employer client development and relations, company strategy, fiscal and budgetary issues, compliance, revenue growth, and overall operational issues.

Celeste and her husband, Jim, live in Danville, California with their two children, Anthony and Julia.