This Miami-based firm has a $50 million minimum

Half of the $7.3 billion under management at WE Family Offices is from non-U.S. clients

Dec 8, 2018 @ 6:00 am

By Jeff Benjamin

It is interesting and rare that half of the $7.3 billion under management at WE Family Offices is from non-U.S. clients. But what's even more interesting is that when the firm launched five years ago, there were no U.S. clients.

"Our domestic growth has been strong, but it's not that we've acquired a lot of clients — it's that our clients are big," said Maria Elena "Mel" Lagomasino, chief executive and managing director of the Miami-based firm.

Considering the $50 million minimum and average client liquidity of $150 million, "big" might be an understatement.

Regardless, the model of offering single-family- and multifamily-office services on a retainer-fee basis clearly works.

Firm's evolution

The launch of WE Family Office resulted from the spinning out of the international client business from GenSpring, which is now the private wealth management division of SunTrust Bank.

As CEO of GenSpring, Ms. Lagomasino oversaw the 2007 acquisition of TBK Investments, a firm founded in 2000 by Santiago Ulloa to provide financial advice to wealthy international families.

Following the 2008 financial crisis, SunTrust Bank, as the majority shareholder of GenSpring at the time, integrated the wealth management business but sold the international business to Ms. Lagomasino and Mr. Ulloa, co-founder and managing partner of WE Family Offices.

(More: Where in the U.S. are RIAs growing the fastest?)

The third managing partner is Michael Zeuner, who was a senior executive partner at GenSpring.

The firm now has eight partners and 50 employees, including 30 client-facing employees, serving 70 families.

Latin America

Most of the firm's international business is in Latin America, which is leveraged by the Miami home base, which Ms. Lagomasino describes as "the capital of Latin America."

(More: Midwestern magic? RIA assets soared nearly 30% there last year)

Domestically, the firm is serving pockets of clients mostly in Florida, New York and California.

Ms. Lagomasino said the future of the advisory firm was never taken lightly by her or the two other managing partners.

"The three managing partners make the bulk of the decisions, but we built the company as a 40-year partnership," she said.

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