Salient-Friedman dissolves into Private Ocean

Bay Area advisory firm, created by a merger in May, rebrands itself

Oct 13, 2009 @ 12:53 pm

By Jed Horowitz

Jones and Smith Wealth Management? How boring. Green and Gold Capital Advisers? So banal. Fink and Funk Financial Fiduciaries? Yawn.

Salient-Friedman Wealth Management, the Bay Area advisory firm formed in May when Richard Stone's Salient Wealth Management LLC merged with Greg Friedman's Friedman & Associates, is rebranding itself as Private Ocean. That's right, just Private Ocean.

“It's almost an oxymoron,” conceded Mr. Stone, who said the contradiction in terms is deliberate.

“It's a name you can spell and pronounce, and we have quite a story,” he said. “We give a very personal, intimate experience on the private side, and vast resources on the ocean side.”

Mr. Stone, of course, can't be accused of being one to pick dull monikers. He set up shop in 1983 as Salient Financial Corp., choosing a word denoting “something prominent and pointing outward.”

But Mr. Stone, 63, failed to copyright the somewhat abstruse name, which was adopted a decade later by a Houston firm — now known as Salient Partners LP — that manages more than $7 billion.

Thanks to the rising stock market, San Rafael, Calif.-based Private Ocean now manages about $620 million of client assets, up from $600 million when the merger was completed five months ago.

The two partners — San Francisco-based Mr. Stone is chief executive and the younger San Rafael-based Mr. Friedman, 48, is president and heir apparent — worked for almost 18 months on due diligence and succession, with the help of consulting firm Moss Adams LLP, before agreeing to combine. Mr. Stone said that he didn't consider selling into a larger consolidator because he was afraid he wouldn't have been able to maintain the culture he created within a holding company structure.

“I was really proud of what I had accomplished with Salient and the clients with whom I had worked from the very beginning,” said the executive, who is in his mid-60s. “With a roll-up, that probably would have ended.”

Mr. Friedman, who founded his firm in 1991, also owns CRM Software Inc., which makes the Junxure customer relationship manager software. The technology company isn't part of Private Ocean.

Mr. Stone said that he and Mr. Friedman unveiled Private Ocean to many of their approximately 400 clients at a party this month, and will officially launch the rebranding in a few weeks.

The name itself was coined by a marketing firm in San Francisco called Big Mouth.

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