Sponsored by Oregon Business

Spreading the wealth

| Print |  Email
Articles - March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014


A high bar to clear. Until last year, investors seeking the expertise of Portland firm Ferguson Wellman Capital Management needed to bring at least $2 million along with them. The 39-year-old wealth management firm lavishes personal attention on its clients. Some families have trusted Ferguson Wellman with their money through three generations. And its employees are far from fickle: Not a single investment professional hired in the last 25 years has left Ferguson Wellman for another job, says CEO James Rudd. The firm closed out 2012 with just shy of 600 individual and institutional clients and $2.91 billion in assets under management. “We’re not a hot-dog manager,” Rudd says.

Creating growth, controlling growth. Market research told the employee-owned firm that the time had come to pursue less wealthy investors. Assuming it would attract younger investors, Ferguson Wellman this summer added two employees and launched West Bearing Investments, a division for Oregon, Washington and California clients with at least $750,000 to invest. West Bearing clients have access to the same investments as Ferguson Wellman clients, as well as direct access to the analysts who create those investments.

The rich get richer. On January 1, the firm raised its minimum for entry into the established Ferguson Wellman division to $3 million. The move doesn’t affect current clients. “I’ve been here 31 years, and this is the fourth time we’ve increased our minimum,” Rudd says. Ferguson Wellman first established a minimum, then $1 million, in 1989. The higher minimum “allows us to continue to be very client centered in what we do and very entrepreneurial,” Rudd says. “Clients are the greatest resource that we have. Believe me, it takes years to form a trusting relationship with a client.”

Surprising results. The 43-employee company ended 2013 with $3.8 billion in assets under management, largely because of the strong performance of the stock market. But it also brought in 52 new clients. Twenty-eight came from the West Bearing division, which hit its goal of $25 million in assets under management. 

So has the double-digit growth in Oregon’s software sector brought young, flush investors into the Ferguson Wellman fold? Not yet. The new clients aren’t of the high-tech hoodie set, but rather business owners, entrepreneurs, doctors and those who’ve inherited money. “When it came down to it, in the Northwest — anywhere, for that matter — $750,000 is a great amount of money to be putting into a retirement,” says Mary Faulkner, senior vice president for branding and communications. “Our demographics at West Bearing compared to Ferguson Wellman, they’re essentially the same. It was an exciting discovery for us — how wealth manifests itself in the Northwest.”



More Articles

Photo Log: Vigor Industrial, Swan Island Shipyard

Tuesday, November 03, 2015



Straight shooter

Linda Baker
Thursday, October 08, 2015
100815-bradleyBY LINDA BAKER

In an era dominated by self-promotion and marketing speak, John Bradley, CEO of R&H Construction, is a breath of fresh air.


Where Do We Go from Here?

Guest Blog
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
102115-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | CFA

Volatility reigned supreme over the summer. The old Wall Street adage of, “Sell in May and go away,” was prophetic in 2015.


The High Road

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

As CEO and owner of five different cannabis-related businesses generating a total net revenue of $2 million, Alex Rogers could sit back and ride the lucrative wave of Oregon’s burgeoning pot industry.


Tech to Table

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Power Lunch at the Barn Light Cafe & Bar in Eugene.


The Love Boat

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Vigor’s values don’t stop at truth. Walk into a company office, conference room or on any shipyard site and you’ll most likely see a poster inscribed with the words “Truth. Responsibility. Evolution. Love.” Otherwise known as TREL, Vigor’s culture code and the prominence it is accorded can be a bit surprising to the unsuspecting shipyard visitor.


The Cover Story

The Latest
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
100515-cover1015-news-thumbBY CHRIS NOBLE

As we worked on the October cover, it became evident that Nick Symmonds is a hard man to catch — even when he’s not hotfooting it around a track.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02