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Intelligent Use of Advisors:. Do too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth ?. Debbie Feinberg. 26 years of experience in private banking and human resource management. In January 2005, Ms. Feinberg started a Family Office for a 1st generation entrepreneur in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Intelligent Use of Advisors:

Do too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth ?

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Debbie Feinberg

  • 26 years of experience in private banking and human resource management.

  • In January 2005, Ms. Feinberg started a Family Office for a 1st generation entrepreneur in Baltimore, Maryland.

  • Previously, as Senior Vice President for The Family Office group at Mercantile Safe Deposit and Trust Company, she developed an open architecture wealth management program by establishing partnerships with wealth management service providers throughout the country.

  • In 2000, Ms. Feinberg was a member of the senior management team at Optical Capital Group., Inc. a $220 million dollar venture capital fund.

  • Graduate of University of Pennsylvania and has a graduate degree in Human Resources Management from American University.

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Greg Curtis

  • A leading figure in the launch and evolution of the open architecture advisory movement.

  • Founded Greycourt & Co., Inc. in 1988.

  • Today, Greycourt remains one of the leading providers of open architecture advice to wealthy families and select endowments.

  • The firm is active in twenty-two states and five countries.

  • Author of Creative Capital: Managing Private Wealth in a Complex World, which discusses the role played by private investment capital in the US economy, and serves as a step-by-step guide to the management of substantial private wealth.

  • Published a series of white papers on a variety of investment topics, available on Greycourt’s Web site at

  • Published numerous articles on investment issues, including articles published in The Journal of Wealth Management.

  • AB degree from Dartmouth College, cum laude.

  • JD degree from Harvard Law School, cum laude.

  • Graduate of The Endowment Institute at Harvard Business School.

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Fort Flowers

  • President and CEO of Sentinel Trust Company, a multi-client family office

  • Provides wealth management, fiduciary, and investment management services to affluent families, their closely held corporations, and foundations.

  • Served on the boards of Coastal Bancshares and The Ohio Bank.

  • Currently serves on the board of National Lime and Stone Company, a privately held producer of limestone aggregate and industrial minerals.

  • Graduate of Georgia Tech and MIT

  • A Chartered Financial Analyst

  • Has served on the board (and chaired) the investment committee of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Foundation, Inc., and as Vice-Chair of the New Covenant Trust Company (wholly owned by the Presbyterian Foundation).

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Steven J. Graubart

  • Founder and CEO of US Fiduciary, an Advisor-Services firm, focused solely on serving high-end financial advisors.

  • Prior to USF, held numerous roles in the portfolio companies of the private equity firm, Sterling Capital, Ltd, most recently as co-Founder & CEO of Superior Learning Systems, LLC (“SLS”), the largest franchisee of Sylvan Learning Centers. After building SLS to 500 employees and sold SLS to Sylvan-corporate in 2002. 

  • Has been intimately involved in the acquisition and sale of more than 20 companies during the past ten years. 

  • Co-founded Tango Communications in 1996, a consolidation of dating services, which were sold after returning more than 5x capital invested in 18-months. 

  • Is a member of the Houston Chapter of Young Presidents’ Organization.  His Board positions include the End Hunger Network, the Fay School, and KIPP Academy. 

  • BBA from the University of Colorado, in Entrepreneurship, Small Business Management.

  • MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University.

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Kristen Powers

  • Sr. Relationship Manager, Oregon Office Manager.

  • Was the first associate for The Threshold Group, starting in December 1998 to help establish the original single family office for the Russell family.

  • In 2003, participated in the conversion from a single family office to a boutique multi-client family office. Currently The Threshold Group works with 6 families with over $1.2 billion in assets under management.

  • Serves as the Senior Relationship Manager for several of these families and coordinates the relationship teams in the areas of investment advisory services, accounting and tax management, financial education, estate planning, alternative investments, human resource consulting, and the acquisition and disposition of real property and hard assets.

  • Also manages the Oregon office of The Threshold Group and is responsible for business development in the Oregon market.

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  • Definition: an individual or firm whose primary goal is to help clients determine the best way to structure and accomplish their objectives.

  • Client centered vs. product centered.

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Why do advisors Fail ?

  • Lack of a clear understanding of family’s objectives

  • No clear hierarchy: who’s in charge?

  • Turf wars: Advisors v. Advisors or

    Family office personnel v. Advisors

  • Info compartmentalized – “macro picture” unclear and individual advisor’s don’t know where they fit – Trust issue

  • Confusion of advisors and salesmen.

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Frustrated Advisors:

  • When asked to do a lot of one – off work

  • When advisor’s advice is consistently rejected

  • When advisors are pitted against each other

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Primary Focus – Understand The Client’s Goals and Objectives

  • Needs Assessment

    What services are needed?

  • Risk Analysis

    What skill base does the client need?

  • Wholistic vs. Single purpose advisors

    Pro / Cons of open architecture?

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Screen Advisors Before Selecting the Team

  • Knowledge / expertise

  • Ability and limitation of each advisor

  • Who does the client trust?

  • Incentives and conflicts

  • Mutual respect among advisors

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Create a Service Plan

  • Define goal of relationships

  • Risk Management program

  • Investment policy

  • Philanthropic plan

  • Education for the next generation

  • Governance process

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Operations Policies and Procedures

  • Create an operations process

    Advisor and client

    Abilities and limitations of advisors

  • Designate a lead role


    Family Member

    Family Office

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Operations Policies and Procedures continued …

  • Communication

    With each other

    With the client

  • Rules of the Road

    Respect expertise

    Stick with areas of expertise

    Ok to challenge and question each other