Who We Are

“Sterling was created as if we were on our client’s side of the table: an experienced and passionate team directly involved in aspects that go above and beyond one’s investment expectations.”

Custom, Hands-On Investment Management

Sterling is one of the largest independent, employee-owned firms in the Southwest. We offer customized portfolio management and comprehensive financial planning services. Since 1995, our firm has provided multifaceted investment management services to high-net-worth individuals, foundations, endowments, and corporations throughout the United States.

High character, hard work, and collaboration are integral characteristics that drive our firm. Sterling has assembled an experienced team with an unrelenting focus on investing and financial planning to serve our clients.



John Payne, CFA

Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer

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John serves as the firm’s Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer. With over 30 years of investment experience, John has performed extensive financial analysis on individual companies and industry groups. His career includes active portfolio management and securities trading, as well as publishing investment strategy overviews to communicate tactics and research to clients, peers, and the business community. He is a member of Sterling’s Investment Policy Committee.

Prior to founding Sterling Investment Management in 1995, John was Vice President and Senior Portfolio Manager for Bank of America, managing the Investment Advisory Group. The Investment Advisory Group was responsible for the management of investment portfolios for high-net worth private clients, personal trust accounts, non-profit organizations, profit sharing plans, and corporations.

John received a Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University and attended the University of Wyoming where he attained a Master of Science in Finance with a specialty in Investment Research. His Master’s Thesis regarding investment theory has been published in a leading academic journal.

John currently serves as a Board of Trustee of the University of Arizona Foundation and is the Chair of the Foundation’s Investment Committee. He is past-President of the Industrial Development Authority of Pima County and serves on the Board of Directors for the Community Investment Corporation. He is a member of the Advisory Board for Angel Charity for Children, Inc., and is a member of the Steele Children’s Research Center Advisory Board.

As a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), John is a member of the CFA Institute. He is a member of the CFA Society of Tucson and the CFA Society of Phoenix.

Arumayta Arguello, CFA

Partner and Portfolio Manager

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Arumayta is a Partner and Portfolio Manager at Sterling Investment Management and has been with the firm for over a decade. She is responsible for portfolio asset allocation, security selection, as well as research and analysis associated with all of Sterling’s investment portfolios. She is a member of the firm’s Investment Policy Committee.

Arumayta graduated from The University of Central Florida receiving a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with concentration in Finance and attained her Master of Investment Management and Financial Analysis from Creighton University. Prior to joining Sterling, she proudly served six years in the United States Air Force as an Avionics Technician.

As a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Arumayta is a member of the CFA Institute. She is a member of the CFA Society of Tucson.

Crystal Kelly

Partner and Director of Client Services

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Crystal is a Partner and the Director of Client Services at Sterling Investment Management. She manages the firm’s administrative and operational functions. She has a wide range of responsibilities encompassing both client and custodial duties. Crystal also serves as the firm’s Chief Compliance Officer. Working closely with Sterling’s outsourced compliance consulting firm, she meticulously prepares all required filings and documentation.

Crystal joined Sterling in 2009 and brings over eighteen years’ experience in the financial services industry. Prior to joining our team, Crystal served for many years as a Premier Banker at Wells Fargo Bank and later as a member of Wells Fargo’s Wealth Management & Private Bank.

Crystal graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting. Additionally, Crystal has an Associate Degree in business management from Brookline College.

Crystal serves as a board member to several local nonprofits that focus on community outreach and children with special needs.

Ross Patterson

Wealth Manager and Research Analyst

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Ross is responsible for Sterling Investment Management’s proprietary financial planning and wealth management services. In this capacity, he creates a wide assortment of dynamic reports that assist clients in their long-term planning and investment activities. Ross also assists with the firm’s research processes and securities trading functions.

Ross has seven years’ experience in the investment management industry predominately working with individual and corporate clients. He is a member of Sterling’s Investment Policy Committee. Ross graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Math/Statistics.

Ross is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP ®️) candidate and is a member of the Financial Planning Association (FPA).

Nathan Stutz

Research Analyst and Trader

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Nathan provides research and financial analysis for equity, fixed income, and alternative securities for Sterling Investment Management. In addition, Nathan has a wide range of trading responsibilities for the firm and conducts operational procedures related to portfolio allocations. He is a member of Sterling’s Investment Policy Committee.

Prior to joining Sterling, Nathan was a financial analyst for a private company where he evaluated a wide range of company investments. He graduated from Utah Valley University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance along with a minor in Accounting.

Nathan is a participant in the CFA Institute program for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.

Sarah Waite

Client Service Administrator

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Sarah oversees all of Sterling Investment Management’s client service functions including daily system updates, cash transaction requests and periodic distribution maintenance, and opening new accounts. Sarah serves as the lead for account statement reconciliation on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis, and assists with the preparation of Sterling’s innovative client reporting formats.

Prior to joining Sterling, Sarah served as a personal banker for Washington Federal Bank and Foothills Bank. She possesses a wide range of experience in servicing client accounts along with assisting with the firm’s fiduciary and compliance responsibilities.

Erika Christensen

Administrative & Operations Assistant

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Erika performs a wide range of client service and operational responsibilities with exceptional attention to detail and care. She has extensive experience in servicing high-net-worth clients and enhances Sterling’s ability to provide accurate and prompt professional support by acting as a liaison between our Investment Management Team, Trade Team and Client Service Team.

Erika has been involved in the financial services industry since 2018. Before joining Sterling, she served as an Operations and Client Support representative for a financial firm focusing on financial planning and investment management. Erika graduated from Brigham Young University – Idaho with a Bachelor of Science Degree in education.

Community Involvement:

Our team volunteers time and financial resources to support several local and national non-profit organizations including Steele Children’s Research, Angel Charity for Children, University of Arizona Foundation, Pima County Industrial Development Authority, Community Investment Corporation, Shepherds Arms, Family Housing Resources, Tucson Jewish Community Center, and several other organizations.