Ask many people what a family office is and many might guess it’s some kind of home business or even a type of doctor’s office. The type of family office Allan Zachariah and Steve Braverman refer to, however, manages the lives of multimillionaire families providing them with services such as dedicated staffs, complex technology departments, and on-call concierge. Founding Pathstone Family Office in 2010, Zachariah and Braverman serve 29 client families nationally from Pathstone offices in New York, New Jersey, and Atlanta. Collectively, Pathstone families represent over $2 billion in combined wealth. Here, Braverman and Zachariah discuss the unique service they provide and what the future holds for their business.
What common thread or theme do you see amongst the families Pathstone serves?
Braverman: Our clients are fast-paced and busy entrepreneurs. Most are first- or second-generation wealth creators who understand the value of a trusted partner who takes a business approach to helping manage their complex lives. They are still busy running their current business or pursuing their passions and personal interests, but understand that someone has to be able to “pull it all together” to help manage the complexity that is usually unavoidable as a result of all they are doing.
Other than the mandate of growing and protecting assets, what other valuable services does Pathstone provide its clients?
Zachariah: As basically an accounting and service firm “stapled to” an RIA, we seek to accommodate all the needs of our client families across multiple disciplines. Not only do we advise on the full spectrum of investment-advisory services (including fully integrated, multiasset, multientity, multigenerational portfolio aggregated reporting), we also sign tax returns for about two thirds of our clients. For most of our clients, we generate balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow projections. We help create and manage our clients’ foundation/philanthropic plans. Additionally, we have a fully integrated online bill presentment and expense-tracking mechanism and support team. We have an 18-year veteran of the P&C insurance world whose responsibility it is to advocate on behalf of our clients’ complex holdings. We will be announcing a new hire and formal launch of a program in 2012 that seeks to engage and educate the next generation of families of wealth regarding their needs and goals. Generally, we find ourselves being the “first call” for just about anything that arises for our clients and have helped recently with ranch acquisition, security for overseas travel, and medical concierge services.
Explain how Pathstone’s approach might differ from offerings from large Wall Street institutions or banks?
Zachariah: Pathstone prides itself on developing and fostering close personal relationships with our clients. By maintaining very high (nearly 1:1) employee to client ratios, we have the ability to understand (and hopefully predict) the needs of our clients so we can proactively manage them without disruption to the family. By internally staffing all the critical experts within the core disciplines of our service model, we seek to create a dynamic where a client’s needs are handled with one call from one team. Further differentiating us from larger institutions is our advocacy model under which we don’t “sell” any products, collect commissions, etc. The one and only way we are compensated is from the openly discussed fees we negotiate with the client. It’s our intention that this allows us to manage our success fully in relation to the client’s success.
How does technology impact the work you do with clients?
Braverman: Markets, news, and data moves fast. Things can change materially in many ways over night. In order to be well informed and focused in our advocacy for our clients we have to work from the most up-to-date and fully integrated information. Many new clients come to us with the frustration of having investment accounts in multiple locations with service advisers who aren’t “talking to each other.” Our investment in forward-thinking technology solutions allows to not only gather information in a way that is critical to the work we do, it is also made available 24/7 directly to our clients for their review and input as well.