What attraction did the firm hold for you?
Whenever we look to partner or acquire, the first thing we lookfor is a cultural fit. Whitnell had that unique combination ofdeep roots in the local market and experienced advisors.
We saw tremendous similarities in our respective stories:Our firm was [originally] created to serve the needs of theRockefeller family; Whitnell originated as a single-familyoffice for the Kelly family. The most important part is thatwe’re very much aligned in our view of the strategic opportunities for family offices. This made it a good fit.
Any other reason why
Whitnell [based in the
Chicago suburb], was
right for you?
[The Midwest] was apart of the country thatwe weren’t in yet. Soit was natural for us toenter. But that wasn’twhat led this. It was that Whitnell comes from similar rootsand has a similar approach to family office services andwealth management.
Where else in the country do you want to expand your footprint?Our proxy for [location] is the combination of top-tierfinancial advisors and high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth clients in a particular place who are lookingfor [top-level] advice. We follow those pockets of wealtharound the country.
Do you see an inorganic growth strategy as a trend that will
It’s been around for a while — advisors leaving wirehousesto set up their own RIAs [or join other RIAs]. I see no reasonwhy that won’t continue into the foreseeable future as advisors keep looking for better ways to serve their clients. Thisis particularly true for the most experienced elite advisorswho are serving clients with complex needs — the advisorswe’re targeting.
There are three big components to your firm: Global Family
Office, Rockefeller Asset Management and Strategic
Advisory. That seems like a huge undertaking.
It is. But we don’t think the model currently exists [in theindustry], and we’re focused on building it in a way thatwe’re uniquely competitively advantaged. We want theRockefeller name to be honored by what we build. TheRockefeller philanthropy helped create a lot of the brandresonance today.
Two products you launched this year address ESG. Is that the
main focus of your asset management business?
In great part, but not exclusively. A big part of the reasonthat we have a robust focus on the ESG space is because theRockefeller family were pioneers in that area and have beenfocused on it for decades.
It’s an area that’s experiencing significant growth amongclients, particularly in Europe but increasingly in the U.S., too,[especially] with millennials and Generation Z, who care aboutclimate change and a lot of other issues that are part of theESG landscape.
Regarding your “…ESG Improvers Index,”what’s the differencebetween an ESG leaderand an ESG improver?
An improver is a firmthat’s showing the greatest improvement in theirThe market today overemphasizes ESG leaders, whileundervaluing improvers. But improvers offer a greater potential for generating uncorrelated alpha — excessreturn — over the long term. So we’re focused on improversin a lot of our investing.
You represented former New York Yankees shortstop Derek
Jeter in his 2017 consortium acquisition of the Miami Marlins.
Do you personally own a piece of the team?
I’m part of the ownership of the Marlins. The group is led byBruce Sherman [chairman] and Derek Jeter, who is the CEO.
What was hardest about putting the deal together?
Ensuring that we represented a group of owners thatcould function in a collegial, collaborative way in upgrading the franchise and in trying to create excellence.Ownership needed to be like-minded in terms of whatwe’re going to do and how we’re going to turn the MiamiMarlins into a first-class organization — investing in thefarm system, in younger players, building the team fromthe ground up and making sure we have a great culture.So putting a group together that was aligned in that visionwas the biggest challenge.
Jane Wollman Rusoff is a contributing editor who specializes ininterviews with thought leaders. An author and prolific journalist, Janeis founder of www.FamilyStarProductions.com.
‘We look for seasoned advisors that have
a history of success in growing their
practice, a strong track record of client
retention [and] a clean compliance and
regulatory background …’