Although Shannon Eusey majored in psychology as an undergraduate at the University of California, Irvine (where she had been recruited to play volleyball), it’s really no surprise that she became a financial advisor. After all, it is the family business.
“I grew up with a father who loved the business and who would talk about it at the dinner table–the benefit he’s providing for clients, the passion for the business, and the passion for finance,” she recalls, noting that she went on to get a master’s degree in finance before beginning her financial career with Roxbury Capital Management, where she eventually became managing director and portfolio manager.
In 2002, Eusey and her father, Garth Flint, decided to pool their mutual passion for finance and formed Beacon Pointe Advisors, where she serves as president and he as CEO. The fee-only Newport Beach, California-based firm manages around $3.5 billion in assets for institutional and private clients.
Eusey’s father isn’t the only close family member at her firm. Her sister, Mollie Rosing, who holds both CPA and CFA credentials, is Beacon Pointe’s chief financial officer. She also has a brother who works in the financial services industry for another firm. There are also three more siblings, two of whom are only out of college a few years and could wind up in the family business as well.
“I came out of the investment management side of the business, although typically people go the other way in the business,” she says, “but I was at a large-cap growth firm and clients were coming in and saying, ‘I’ve got these assets’ and being a large-cap growth manager we could manage those assets, but I didn’t always feel that was in the best interests of the clients because we were not looking at the total picture. My father had founded Canterbury Capital here in Newport Beach and they had a different business model, where he had a broker/dealer, and his feeling has always been we shouldn’t have a broker/dealer associated with the investment advisory business. So the stars aligned,” Eusey explains about the genesis of Beacon Pointe.
Putting the Client First
Despite Eusey’s background in investment management, she stresses that is not where Beacon Pointe’s strengths lie. “We’re not an investment manager; we’re a manager of managers,” she explains. “We build customized portfolios of several–and what we believe are superior–investment managers to best accomplish our clients’ needs and goals, while assuming the least amount of risk possible.”
Many advisory firms would love to work with institutions, but have found it a difficult niche to crack, but Beacon Pointe has served such clients since day one and they currently account for about two-thirds of the firm’s assets. Eusey says the ability to serve those kinds of clients comes from her father, who has been working with institutions since the 1970s, and the team that he brought with him from his previous firm.
For Beacon Pointe’s private clients there are some distinct advantages that derive from the firm’s institutional business. “The benefit to the end private client of our having institutional exposure is two-fold,” Eusey explains. “First, it holds us to a higher standard because you’re definitely a fiduciary under those institutional boards. We hold ourselves out to be a fiduciary for private clients as well. It also allows us, for our private clients, to negotiate fees on their behalf that they might gain access to an investment manager or at a fee that might not have been available to them before.”
Although due to the size of its clients’ collective assets Beacon Pointe has access to some of the most sought-after money managers, Eusey says that when it comes to investments, the firm is more focused on the traditional side. “We have alternative exposure as well, but we absolutely believe that you can achieve what you need in a total portfolio with traditional managers,” she says. “So we’re not looking for the eclectic manager to give us outsized returns. We’re looking for managers who can give us consistent returns and protect clients’ capital in difficult market environments.”
As a manager of managers, Eusey says Beacon Pointe devotes a lot of energy to researching the managers with whom they place their clients’ money. “All of our advisors sit on our investment team,” she notes. “Every single one of the managers we approve has been vetted by our investment committee.”
The arsenal of investment weapons that Beacon Pointe utilizes includes separately managed accounts, mutual funds, and alternative vehicles–funds of funds, private equity, and real estate. “We don’t take a cookie-cutter approach to clients’ portfolios,” says Eusey, adding that this kind of approach means more work for the advisor, but it’s what she and her partners believe is best for the client.