One hundred firms make up AdvisorOne’s 2012 Top Wealth Managers, as measured by assets under management per client, with data as of 12/31/11.
Here we present a profile of the crème de la crème of the Top Wealth Managers—those 10 firms that topped the list in in our 2012 survey.
View the list of all 280 firms in our 2012 Top Wealth Managers survey.
Founding principal Ben Beavers, says President and CIO Ted Neild, knew the importance of true independence at the time Gresham Partners was put together as a spinout of a corporate financial planning firm. That independence still drives Gresham today.
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Beavers and other founding principals are still principals today, as well, with the firm’s priorities unchanged and a long perspective in place. Neild says the way the firm is organized on the investment side preserves a focus on capital preservation and risk control.
That stood the firm in good stead during the 2008 upheaval. Neild says that Gresham’s quest to eliminate all conflicts of interest with clients at its founding has led to a firm that is independently owned, does not sell products and does not make money any other way than by providing advice to clients.
“In this day and age,” he explains, “with Madoff” and with firms selling poorly performing investment vehicles to clients, “people are focused on aligning their interests and making sure their advisors are true fiduciaries.”
While the founding principles are still intact, says Neild, the firm is “always adjusting … to adapt and keep up” so the focus is always on the right types of things for the client, both organizationally and with regard to investments.
The investment platform is always changing, Neild says, adding that the last couple of years “required more adjustments than at any point in time.” While the firm is still anchored to its compass, he explains that preserving and growing capital in real terms is important, and most platforms are geared toward benchmark-oriented relative terms. “We are protecting and growing [the clients’ capital],” he says, “the [former] in difficult markets, and the latter in normal markets. “We have made a difference for clients primarily because we have been able to preserve principal in difficult periods.”
The firm has escaped largely unscathed from the scandals that have plagued the financial industry, Neild says; it has been careful in its examination of potential investment vehicles and firms. While “some things come out of left field” such as the failure of Lehman Brothers or Bear Stearns, others displayed “warning signs” of risks. “We looked at Madoff several times,” he says, “but couldn’t get comfortable with the things that we saw.”
‘Alignment of Interests’