The First Oak Team

When you choose First Oak, you are choosing an experienced team of advisors who work together to serve you. We complement each other to ensure we create and implement strategies to maximize each client’s possibilities.

Ryan Thomsen, CPWA®

Partner, Investment Advisor

Ryan is the firm’s managing partner and has over a decade of experience in the financial services industry. His primary focus is providing in-depth financial planning and investment management strategies for his clients.

Ryan wants his life’s work to focus on helping people, and his desire to work specifically in wealth management started at a young age watching the journey of his entrepreneurial parents. He saw firsthand the success of a family business along with the pitfalls of not having a focused and comprehensive financial plan.

After earning his bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, he packed everything he owned in his truck and moved to Raleigh, where he began his career at Fidelity Investments. After helping hundreds of Fidelity customers, he realized he could help people even more if they were his clients. He then joined Edward Jones and later moved to Oak City Consulting before co-founding First Oak Wealth Management. With practical investment and financial planning experience, his goal was to create the type of firm he would choose to work with if he were a client. A firm where the clients’ interest comes ahead of the advisor’s. A natural born planner, Ryan enjoys getting to know the stories behind what his clients want to accomplish and uses his financial acumen to chart the right course for each person or family.

Ryan holds the Certified Private Wealth Advisor® designation, which he earned through the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, in coordination with the Investment & Wealth Institute. The CPWA® certification program is an advanced credential created specifically for wealth managers serving the unique needs of business owners, executives and high-net-worth clients with a particular focus on strategies to minimize taxes, monetize and protect assets, maximize growth, and transfer wealth.

Ryan is an active member of Providence Baptist Church. He and his family live on a small farm in Raleigh. Outside of the office, he enjoys fishing with his sons, manning the grill and hosting family and friends for dinner.

Grace Kelly, CFP®

Investment Advisor and Family Wealth Manager

Grace joined the First Oak team in 2018 to help clients develop and implement strategies that create, grow and preserve wealth, as well as simplify their lives.

An alumna of Colorado State University, Grace started her career at Charles Schwab in Denver, serving as a client service specialist, high-net-worth trade specialist and senior specialist for client development. While with Charles Schwab, she relocated to Little Rock, Arkansas, where she served as an associate financial consultant. During this time, she obtained the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER mark. She is happy to now call Raleigh home. Prior to joining the First Oak team, she was a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley at their North Raleigh office.

Grace enjoys having both mountains and lakes nearby and experiencing all four seasons. A history buff, she is a member of the Wake County Historical Society and is a member of The Woman’s Club of Raleigh, a non-profit organization dedicated to many local, national and global causes.

Catherine Hawthorne

Office Administrator

Catherine joined First Oak in 2017. Earlier in her career, she worked at ITT Sheraton Hospitality Corporation where she held management positions at the Sheraton Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C. and Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. She was instrumental in opening luxury hotels in Chicago and New York City. An alumnus of Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, she studied foreign languages.

A native of Washington, Catherine moved with her family to the Triangle nearly 20 years ago. Outside of the office, she enjoys spending time with her family, including her two beloved, four-legged jogging partners, Lucy and Zoey. She enjoys travel, a passion that took root as a child when she lived in Europe, and volunteers her time in support of women’s and children’s ministries.

Laura Sullivan

Client Service Associate

First Oak’s newest team member, Laura joined the firm in 2020.

Her career spans 30 years, much of which was at large investment firms. During this time, she acquired extensive industry and operational knowledge and developed a passion for customer service. Prior to joining First Oak, she served as a financial associate at Fidelity Investments where she added facilitation to her skillset while teaching and coaching new associates to deliver world-class customer service. Known for her positive attitude and friendliness, her knack for connecting with people has led to client relationships measured in decades.

A native of Long Island, New York, Laura and her family moved to Cary in the mid-‘90s. She is the proud mother of a son and daughter, as well as two brother and sister kittens.

We have an ongoing partnership with Investment Research Partners, LLC. The benefits of this partnership are two-fold. First, we have access to a robust collection of investment research expertly curated by a team of professionals whose sole focus is studying financial markets and economies. They are an independent firm that does not benefit financially from any company or strategy they recommend. In short, they provide credible, knowledge-based expertise. Second, it allows the First Oak team more time to do what we do best: engaging with our clients and managing their investments.  Click here to learn more about Investment Research Partners.