1975 Duquesne alumna named to Forbes “America’s Top Women Wealth Advisors”

Courtesy of Karen Greb | Karen Greb and Peter Greb are a mother-son duo at Greb Management Group. The pair have stated they often "finish each other's sentences" while working together.

Megan Trotter | News Editor

Class of 1975 Duquesne alumna Karen Greb was named among 2024 “America’s Top Women Wealth Advisors” and “Top Women Wealth Advisors Best-in-State” by Forbes Magazine.

With only a few elective business courses under her belt, Karen believed she would graduate and use her liberal arts degree to become an English Literature teacher. By 1978, though, she had begun an extensive career at Merrill, an investment management division of Bank of America, and she founded the Greb Wealth Management Group.

Now, almost 50 years later, Karen doesn’t believe you need to have a degree in business to succeed in business.

“You’re made to feel [that] because you’re not a business major, you can’t have a career in the business field,” Karen said.

Many of Karen’s family members also attended Duquesne. She met her husband, James Greb, as an undergrad and worked with him at WDUQ radio, which is a local radio station that used to operate out of Duquesne. James was a Pittsburgh local, and after graduation, she wanted to stay close to him. To do so, she stayed in Pittsburgh despite difficulty finding a job.

Like many of her fellow graduated Liberal Arts friends, she worked as an office temp bouncing around different businesses in Pittsburgh, before landing her position at Merrill.

Karen said she believes soon-to-be graduating college students should try to be more adaptable when entering the workforce.

“Keep an open mind about different types [of] careers,” Karen said.

David Fortna, Director and Executive of Education & Leadership Development for Palumbo Donahue School of Business, said it has become increasingly common for students with degrees outside of business to later pursue roles within the business world.

“Success in a business career is based on a broad skill set, including leadership, teamwork, critical thinking and proficiency in data-driven decision-making. While obtaining a business degree can enhance your prospects, there are other paths to success,” Fortna said to The Duke in an email. “Evidence suggests that employers highly value the diverse expertise offered by double majors, such as psychology or communications, coupled with finance or information systems.”

Karen obtained her position at Merrill by answering an ad posted in the Wall Street Journal.

While working there, she took the office by storm, becoming one of the first certified financial planners in Pittsburgh and the first female Vice President.

Among her list of “firsts” at the company, in the mid to late 80s, Karen also became the first woman to have a child while working there.

With no daycares around, Peter Greb, Karen’s son, quickly became acquainted with the financial world.

“He sort of went everywhere with me,” Karen said.

Growing up, Peter would play with the children of Karen’s clients during her financial meetings. Afterward, Karen said Peter would ask her questions about the meetings and her job.

Unlike his parents, Peter graduated from John Carroll University with a degree in accounting.

In 2012, Peter joined the firm, working alongside his mother at Greb Wealth Management Group. He likes to joke that he’s been working there for either “12 or 36 years,” depending on how you look at it.

Peter said one of the benefits of always being around her growing up is that he knew they would work well together.

Greb Wealth Management Group prides itself on being a “multigenerational financial practice comprised of a mother-son advisory team,” according to their website.

With the knowledge of several generations at Greb Management Group, Peter said that the best thing for college-aged students to do financially is beginning to save money for the future.

He said he’s never heard someone say “Gee, I wish I hadn’t saved so much.”

Since its founding, the Greb Management Group has expanded to include two more members, Assistant Vice President Kristine J Gutkowski and Wealth Management Client Chalina Ciccone.

Peter said Greb Management Group has always been “ahead of the game” because of his mother.

“I could see the meaningful impacts of her helping people,” Peter said.

Karen was also awarded “Best-in-State Management Teams” in 2023 and 2024; “Top Women Wealth Advisors Best-in-State” in 2023; “Best-in-State Wealth Advisors” in 2019, 2020 and 2021; “America’s Top Women Wealth Advisors” in 2020 and 2021 and “America’s Top Women Wealth Advisors Best-in-State” in 2022 by Forbes.

Peter said Karen’s success comes from her ability to designate people’s financial plans around their goals.

“She’s [Karen] always been one to face challenges head on,” Peter said.

Karen believes a major part of life is keeping up with how things change over the years.

“Be adaptable to change,” Karen said. “No change means no growth. Growth leads to enjoyment.”