Aspiriant, the $8 billion California-based wealth management firm with national aspirations and offices in six states, is drilling down in its own backyard to tap potential clients from Silicon Valley.
Lorraine Fox, a financial advisor and former marketing executive with deep Silicon Valley roots, has been named the firms' new director of wealth management and will be based in San Francisco.
Fox began her career in the Valley as a marketing executive for Sun Microsystems and Oracle, and later worked for the Portola Group and Clearrock Capital, before joining Aspiriant this month. She has also worked as an equity research analyst and a general partner and consultant for venture capital firms.
Fox says she plans to focus on prospects from her Silicon Valley connections, her Stanford University alumni network and her fellow professional women living in the bay Area.
All three groups tend be "incredibly busy," and want to spend their time running their businesses, Fox says. "They want a trusted advisor who can help them meet their goals, whether it's philanthropic or financial."
What's more, the timing couldn't be better to prospect in the Valley, according to Fox. "The wealth creation cycle in Silicon Valley right now has produced many business opportunities which are keeping the entire office very busy," she says.
While competition from other independents, investment banks and private client divisions of global banks for Silicon Valley clients is intense, Fox points to Aspirant's long-term commitment to independence and emphasis on philanthropy and impact investing as differentiating attributes.
FAMILY OFFICE BUSINESS MODEL
The firms' service lines include an investment-only offering and asset management plus planning for clients who typically have more than $5 million in investable assets. Aspiriant also has a family office option for families with more than $50 million in assets.
Asked about the tight margins usually associated with the family office business, Fox says Aspiriant's business model includes a negotiated "engagement agreement" for fees and services which is "re-visited on an annual basis."
Aspiriant also bolstered its research arm last month, bringing in John Allen as chief investment officer in its Los Angeles office. Allen will oversee the firm's 12 person Investment Strategy & Research Group, responsible for asset allocation, portfolio construction, manager selection and risk management.
Allen spent the past five years at Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. in San Francisco.
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