Ernest Carrera is well suited behind his desk, as a wealth advisor at Carrera Financial, but he’s also comfortable steering planes high in the sky. Both of those businesses are more complementary than one might think, he says.
Carrera is a fourth-generation Tampa native. His parents met in Ybor City, both were born in Ybor City.
“My mother was a singer back when I was a kid. She was somewhat of a local celebrity,” he says. Adding that she sang at the Columbia Restaurant for a time.
Carrera attended St. Joseph’s Catholic School and Tampa Catholic High School, where he played on the football team.
He got a football scholarship with Loras College, in Dubuque, Iowa. After one year, he suffered an injury to his neck and shoulder.
“I realized football was not going to be in my future,” he says.
He returned to Florida and got a job with Delta Air Lines while he attended the University of South Florida.
“I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do when I grew up, back at that time,” he recalls.
A friend of his was enrolled in an aviation program at St. Petersburg College, at the time St. Petersburg Junior College.
“He flew into the hangar one day and I just thought it was the coolest thing,” Carrera says. “Working in the airline [business], I realized that the high-paid professionals were the pilots and I was always fascinated with aviation, so I started flying, back in 1987.”
Carrera went on to graduate from USF with his pilot’s license and his degree from the college.
While flying was his passion, he also got into wealth management, working at Metlife.
“I thought it was going to be a temporary job and it turned out to be a career,” he says.
Carrera has, essentially, held down both of those careers since. He’s been in aviation for 36 years and wealth management for 31 years.
“You don’t know what you don’t know when you are 21 or 22 years old,” Carrera says. “I never thought I would be interested in the business world. But when I worked at MetLife, I did very well. I was one of the top sales representatives in our office.”
He tried flying only for a bit of time, but missed working on the wealth management field.
“I missed helping people accomplish their goals with their finances,” he says.
During his time in financial services, Carrera was a 12-year mayoral appointed chairman for the City of Tampa’s General Employees’ Retirement Fund. He was appointed by then Mayor Pam Lorio, in 2008.
“I think I’m still the longest-sitting chairman for that fund since they’ve had the pension fund,” Carrera says. That fund, alone, manages more than $800 million which supports current and future pension benefits for city employees.
These days, Carrera Financial is a family business, led by Carrera himself, along with his daughter Angela, and his future-son-in-law Todd.
“I always say that the team gets progressively better looking as we go,” Carrera says, jokingly.
The family office, which is backed by LPL Financial, collectively has serviced and custodied more than $670 billion in total assets.
He also continues to take to the air. He has his airline transport pilot rating, which is the highest rating one can achieve in aviation. “I’m type rated on the Falcon 900 and the Lear Jet 31,” he explains. He also flies a Piper Saratoga, privately, for himself. In addition, he works for Execujet, a charter company for private air travel, based in Tampa.
Carrera describes the industries he’s passionate about being more similar than people may realize.
“[Both] provide an opportunity to help people and get them to where they want to go,” he says. ♦