Eric Becker liked the idea of working with an independent RIA but remained a wealth management client of a large bank for decades. He was worried small advisory firms didn’t have the same infrastructure and resources.
But RIAs now have access to technology and investments that rival those of big banks, and the ones offering differentiated service, expertise, and perks are attracting advisors and clients.
Only a handful of wealth managers have the scale to be everything to every investor. All the others will have to remain focused on the growing pool of the wealthiest families, according to a McKinsey & Company report. Focusing on part of that segment — by catering to their personal interests, getting them access to certain investments, or specializing in one profession — can help an RIA differentiate itself.
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Cresset Capital Management, the $13.3 billion RIA Becker co-founded in 2017, is an example of that. Cresset is a firm “built by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs,” a reference to Becker and co-founder and co-chairman Avy Stein, who were both private equity executives before they started the RIA. And it continues to lure advisors and wealth investors and expand across the country.
Sarah Marriott, a former private wealth manager at Goldman Sachs, joined Cresset this month and will soon open its first office in Los Angeles.
Like Becker, Marriott found that RIAs of the past couldn’t meet the demands of her clients, including executives in media and entertainment, biotechnology, manufacturing, and other prominent industries in L.A. After realizing that some RIAs can meet those needs, she sought an opportunity to join an RIA and elevate what she could offer clients.
Marriott had a “great experience” working at Goldman Sachs, where she was part of a team that managed more than $1 billion for about 30 families. But Cresset better suited her and her clients going forward, she said. The investment bank is a leader when it comes to the biggest mergers, acquisitions, and initial public offerings. But it lacked the same expertise and resources for the increasing volume of middle-market deals many entrepreneurs must navigate.
At Cresset, Becker, Stein, and others employed by the RIA can help Marriott’s clients, as well as their networks of bankers and other professionals. Cresset also goes out of its way to connect its clients with one another, which Becker said some of the largest competitors don’t do or can’t.
“It was also started by clients, for clients, which was huge for me,” Marriott told RIA Intel. “I’m thrilled to be representing Cresset.”
Marriott, a managing director, will lead Cresset’s L.A. office and hire advisors to join her. Cresset already had a growing number of clients based in the city.
Becker joked that the new office should be based at The Peninsula Hotel, but it will likely be based in the Century City neighborhood.
“This is just the beginning and there’s more coming.”
Michael Thrasher (@Mike_Thrasher) is a reporter at RIA Intel based in New York City.