Our Team

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Max Knapp

Co-Founder / Financial Advisor

Max Knapp values the independent, diligent, and forward-looking perspective that are the foundations of a truly strong planning process. A listener first and talker second, Max is focused on building client relationships based on trust and understanding. While he brings a broad knowledge base around portfolio construction and investment acumen, he is driven by learning about what is important to his clients, whether that’s prepping for retirement or creating a lasting legacy.

Max started Blackbear Capital because of his desire to act as a fiduciary – always putting our clients first as oppose to the myriad of stakeholders at a public company. As an entrepreneur himself, he can relate to our clients in a unique way and has a strong appreciation for an independent, employee-owned firm. Max understands that clients value competence and independent, conflict-free advice, not sales experience.

Max co-founded Blackbear Capital after spending nearly five years with United Bank’s Wealth Management group. While at United, Max was responsible for managing assets for a wide variety of clients, including high net worth individuals, nonprofit institutions, pension plans, and retirees. Prior to joining United Bank, Max spent time in West Palm Beach as an Investment Associate with the private equity firm, Comvest Partners. He began his career on Wall Street with Deutsche Bank Securities where he developed a strong foundation in financial statement analysis and business valuation.

Outside of work, Max enjoys playing an active role in the community engaging in volunteer organizations as well as the growing entrepreneurship community throughout West Virginia. Max also enjoys spending time with his wife, Kylie, travelling and hiking local trails as well as spending time on the golf course. Max is an avid sports fan and can often be found cheering on the Mountaineers.


  • B.S in Accounting, West Virginia Wesleyan College
    (Buckhannon, WV)
  • M.S. in Finance, Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)

Preston Whitney

Co-Founder / Financial Advisor

As a co-founder and financial advisor of BlackBear Capital, Preston loves collaborating closely with each of our clients to make sense of their complex financial lives. There are many intricacies and competing wants, big ideas and small obstacles. Preston gets great satisfaction knowing that he plays a role in helping families achieve their life goals.

Preston strongly believes in BlackBear’s Financial Planning designs because financial security isn’t being able to predict the future, but instead, it’s about knowing you have a solid plan in place. He works under the conviction that anything worth building is worth doing not just well, but thoughtfully, sustainably, and in a way that matters to each client.

Prior to starting BlackBear Capital, Preston spent nearly five years with United Bank. The majority of that time was spent working as a financial advisor within their brokerage arm. During that time, Preston developed a niche working with those nearing retirement / retired to develop income, growth and protection strategies.

Outside of the office, Preston enjoys taking advantage of West Virginia’s natural beauty. He spends much of his time outside hunting, fishing, hiking, golfing, and hanging out with family. He and his wife, Whitney, are both active members of Creston Church in Leon, WV.


  • BBA in Finance, Marshall University (Huntington, WV)
  • Master of Business Administration, Marshall University (Huntington, WV)