Meet the Team
Eugene Shkolnikov grew up in the former Soviet Union and migrated to the United States at age 17. With a complex interplay of ideological, political, and economic factors in his native country, Eugene’s belief in the promise of opportunity in the United States provided a foundation that has allowed him to learn, grow and thrive personally and professionally.
In 2000, he graduated from Brooklyn College earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and Finance, he seamlessly moved on to launch his financial planning practice with Northwestern Mutual, in New York City. Throughout his career, Eugene has established himself as someone who specializes in estate, pension, and business planning through personalized holistic planning. His clientele is diverse, including business owners as well as individuals and families. As he has developed long-term relationships with his clients, his finds great fulfillment in seeing the impact of his advice and planning to help his clients to be secure in their future and informing the next generation, allowing them to realize their potential as well.
Eugene’s professional accomplishments have been many including membership in the Million Dollar Round Table, a global, independent association for the world's leading life insurance and financial services professionals, membership is recognized internationally as the standard of excellence; recipient of the Northwestern Mutual Community Service Award in 2013, recognizing outstanding volunteer leadership and dedication to charitable organizations and philanthropic projects; and most recently achieving Forum, a recognition of excellence of the top Financial Advisors nationally, within Northwestern Mutual. Unwavering commitment to his community is put into action as a board member of Kings Bay Y Community Center, where he actively supports multiple charitable projects. In 2011 Eugene helped to renovate the Kings Bay Y Library, that is now named after him. In 2013, he helped to create the Kings Bay Y Leadership Program for teens. He is the first sponsor and founder of the RAOA Russian American Officers Association, a fraternal organization of law enforcement officers, started in 2003 by officers of the New York City Police Department.
As his practice has continued to grow, Eugene partnered with his colleague, Michael Shafir, to establish the Scholar Financial Group, and they have expanded their practice with the opening of a second office in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.
Eugene’s aspiration is to continue to dedicate his efforts to the betterment of his clients, neighbors, and family.
Michael Shafir grew up in Ukraine in 1995, he moved to the United States when he was 21, and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, from Baruch College, in 2000.
Michael worked as a financial analyst for an S&P 500 firm and as a stock trader on Wall Street prior to joining Northwestern Mutual, in 2005. Throughout his career, Michael has worked extensively on advancing his education and refining his expertise to best serve his clients.
Through this dedication he has achieved impressive certifications as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, Retirement Income Certified Professional, Chartered Financial Consultant, Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Advisor for Senior Living, and holds a Certification for Long Term Care. This achievement of excellence ensures that Michael engages with his clients as a subject matter expert, informing the work that they do together in building a custom financial roadmap to address their needs today and into the future with a sound financial plan.
As a Wealth Management Advisor with Northwestern Mutual, Michael’s career has continued to grow. As he has come to know several of his fellow financial planners, he has developed and unique and meaningful synergy with Eugene Shkolnikov, Financial Advisor. Through their work together, and their histories as immigrants, they are able to serve their communities through personal experience and support their clients in establishing secure financial futures. Michael and Eugene have moved on to establish the Scholar Financial Group, maintaining their presence in Manhattan while opening a second location in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, this provides the opportunity to be closer to their concentration of clients in the area.
Michael specializes in areas of business planning including retirement solutions, employee benefits, retention and exit planning strategies. He also supports his individual clients and provides insight regarding questions of risk management, investments, retirement distribution, long-term care and estate strategies.
Within his community Michael is involved in the Kings Bay Y and volunteers with the iMishpacha community organization in Brooklyn, NY.
Michael enjoys spending his spare time with his family, fine dining and travel.
Yuriy Smolyak was born in Ukraine. He earned a Bachelor’s degree at Civil Construction Engineering College in Poltava, Ukraine. He is fluent in Ukrainian and Russian language.
Yuriy works with Scholar Financial Group as Associate Financial Representative and holds a New York Life and Health license.
As an associate financial representative, he is responsible for providing expert guidance to our clients on a range of insurance products. His excellent knowledge of the insurance market and being up to date with the latest products and changes in legislation help him understand clients’ needs and find the right financial plan and help reduce possible risks. He helps clients build a strong financial foundation to help them gain peace of mind as well as the confidence to support their families and future generations.
Yuriy also builds strong relationships with clients and provides them with outstanding customer service.
Iryna Oleksa was born in Ukraine. She earned her bachelor’s degree from L’viv Polytechnic University. Iryna has over 20 years of experience in the financial and banking industry. She spent 9 of those years working for the Bank of Ukraine. Iryna earned BA in Applied Math, Finance, and Credit. She is fluent in Ukrainian and Russian.
Iryna works with Scholar financial group since 2006 and holds a New York Life and Health license. Her primary focus is assisting both day to day financial planning process and insurance operations. She has a strong understanding of the company’s products and services. Iryna is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with clients, so it’s important that they have a thorough understanding of the company’s offerings.
She also manages the client relationship team and develops and implements strategies to improve customer satisfaction.
Anastasiya Shpyliova was born in Belarus. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at Minsk State Linguistic University. She is Fluent in Belarussian and Russian.
Anastasiya works with Scholar financial group since 2019 as a Manager of the Client Experience. She assists with day-to-day insurance operations and the financial planning process, overseeing a company's client experience and company reporting. Anastasiya works with clients to identify their needs and ensure the customer at each stage at the Scholar Financial Group are satisfied with the services they receive.
Her ability to identify and work with the problem is the key to the success of a positive experience for our clients.
Michael was born and raised in South Brooklyn, New York, more specifically Sheepshead Bay. He family is Russian-Jewish and are active members of their community.
As recent member of the Scholar Financial Group team, where Michael has found that serving his community in helping them achieve their financial goals is the career path that is a perfect fit for his interests. His goal is to provide value, comfort, and clarity to people’s lives regarding their finances, investments, and life insurance needs.
Michael is focused on engaging with clients and ensuring that all of their questions are answered and that they are confident in their relationship with Northwestern Mutual, specifically the Scholar Financial Group. Michael also proactively connects with existing and prospective clients, providing them knowledge that they might not get otherwise.
Minu Gupta was born in India and moved to the US in 2005. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s from Fairfield University, majoring in Management of Information Technology. Minu is fluent in Hindi and Punjabi.
She works with Scholar Financial Group as the Director of Employer and Participant Services. Minu has significant experience working as a third-party administrator, designing, and managing pension plans. Her scope of knowledge involves managing the life cycle of pension plan administration: gathering census data from the client, performing ADP/ACP testing, providing contribution numbers to the client, compliance with plan documents, creating valuation reports, and Form 5500 reporting. She has successfully managed pension plan audits with the IRS.
Minu’s extensive and unique expertise, combined with a desire to build long-lasting client relationships has helped clients maximize deductions by optimizing their short-term and long-term retirement savings.
Vergine Khalatian was born in Armenia. She earned a master’s degree in finance from the State University of Moscow. Vergine is fluent in Armenian and Russian.
She works with Scholar Financial Group as a Director of Business Development. Vergine has a lot of experience in creating new business opportunities for organizations by growing its revenue, finding, and advancing new business opportunities, expanding the brand, and client-relationship management and sales.
Her goal is to grow an existing business by finding new and relevant opportunities. She establishes an attainable business development strategy focused on financial gain for the company and arranges business development meetings with prospective clients.
Sofiia Hrytsko was born in Ukraine. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Foreign Languages at Ukrainian National Pedagogical Drahomanov University. She is fluent in Ukrainian, Polish, and Russian.
Sofia works with Scholar Financial Group as a Financial Planning Analyst and holds a New York Life and Health insurance license. She helps financial advisors of the firm with analytical support putting together financial plans, and analyzing defensive and offensive financial strategies. In addition, Sofia assists with risk products underwriting and investment operations. She assembles and summarizes data to structure sophisticated review reports on clients’ financial status and risks.
Michelle Shkolnikov was born in the United States as a first-generation American in a former Soviet Union family. She is currently attending Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL, for her Bachelor's degree in Digital Marketing.
She is working with Scholar Financial Group as a Marketing Manager. Michelle is gaining a lot of experience in the marketing world while working with the group and learning new things to help her prosper in the future. She leads the team's marketing and advertising division and is responsible for overseeing the success of various marketing initiatives. Her job is to develop advertising strategies for existing products and promotional events and help recruit new clientele. She reviews current marketing campaigns for weaknesses and develops solutions to succeed in advertising. She handles the group's social media accounts and orders merch for loyal clients.