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How to Grow a Family Office Without Losing the Personal Touch


Rockefeller Global Family Office is good at being small.

Today’s investors expect personal attention, which creates a double bind for wealth management firms. Should they focus on excellent client service or growing business capacity?

Rockefeller Global Family Office’s Christopher Dupuy thinks firms can have both.

Chris is the president of Rockefeller Global Family Office, the wealth management division of Rockefeller Capital Management, which provides comprehensive solutions and services to clients across the United States. Originally founded in 1882 as the family office of John D. Rockefeller, the firm has its roots as the first full-service family office in the U.S.

On the podcast, he talks about strategic growth, consistent culture, and differentiation in a crowded marketplace.

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Family Wealth Planning Demands Personal Connection

Family wealth planning starts as a puzzle.

Wealth management brings up deeply personal issues, often with multiple decision-makers. At Rockefeller, Chris sees many complex family structures that change over time. Families grow with children, grandchildren, or marriages. Over time, family members pass away. From one generation to the next, those decision-makers can have different histories, beliefs, and views.

In his view, a private advisor's job is to assemble the puzzle and tailor services for each client that reflects the dynamic ways needs unfold and lives change. He observes that client expectations have changed over his career.

Today’s clients have already been successful at building wealth. Chris says Rockefeller’s clients want to pass on more than wealth to future generations—they want to share their broader legacy and values. He seeks to meet the growing desire for counsel around purpose.

“I never want to diminish the importance of returns, but our responsibility is much broader than that.”

Consistent Culture Builds Consistent Client Relationships

As Rockefeller Global Family Office expands its national presence, Chris and his team have welcomed advisors from all over the country. To maintain the firm’s boutique approach, the firm needs to select talent that fits its culture. The team must balance autonomy for advisors with a consistent client experience.

Chris believes in the “power of people” in the financial industry. As the firm expands, Rockefeller looks to attract advisors to its platform. They look for:

  • Extensive teams with strong team dynamics.
  • Demonstrated success including growing books of business, accreditations, and recognition as industry leaders.
  • Focus on developing deep client relationships.

Create a Unique Value Proposition

Today’s private advisors face steep competition. Firms need to identify what makes their offerings special and different from other competing firms. One avenue for growth is to add strategies that complement traditional investment management.

Rockefeller has built offerings that can be personalized around a client’s values and preferences, including philanthropic strategies, lifestyle advice, alternative investment solutions, and an open architecture investment platform. The advisors have two complementary business arms that augment their wealth management practice. Rockefeller Asset Management shares its intellectual capital with advisors and manages equity, fixed income, and alternative strategies. The firm also created Rockefeller Strategic Advisory from scratch, bringing on investment bankers to collaborate with private advisors to support clients on important business decisions. The added benefit serves C-suite executives, business owners, and entrepreneurs.

To capitalize on their broad offerings, every advisor needs a full command of platform components that can make a difference in clients’ lives. Rockefeller Global Family Office continues to look for ways for advisors to share their knowledge with each other. “I'm a big believer that advisors learn the most from other successful advisors,” Chris says.

There’s No Silver Bullet for Practice Growth

A range of approaches can support the balance between client relationships and growing client bases. Wealth management firms could pursue independent research, efficient technology, or knowledge-sharing with clients.

With the right tools and solutions, wealth management firms can find new ways to efficiently support elevated client experiences.

This information was provided for illustrative and educational purposes only. It should not be construed as an investment recommendation, investment advice, an offer of investment advisory or brokerage services, or a projection or illustration of the performance of any particular investment or strategy. Forward-looking statements, including those presented herein, are inherently uncertain, as future events may differ materially from those reflected, and past performance is not a guarantee of future performance.

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