Home Back Issues March 2014 Spreading the wealth

Spreading the wealth

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

HiResBY PAIGE PARKER

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

A Good Leap Forward

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Agriculture businesses ramp up to meet international demand as workforce and succession challenges loom.


Read more...

True Blood

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE

Antibiotics really aren’t magic bullets.


Read more...

Two Sides of the Coin

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
22 twosidesBY JASON NORRIS

Historically, when the leaves fall, so do the markets. This year, earnings, Europe, energy and Ebola have in common? Beyond alliteration, they are four factors that the investors are pointing to for this year’s seasonal volatility.


Read more...

Tight and Loose

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY JENNIFER MARGULIS

As schools implement more rigorous academic standards, holistic and flexible approaches to K-12 education flourish.


Read more...

Shipping News

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY JENNIFER MARGULIS

In 2012 The Dalles, a city of some 14,400 located 75 miles east of Portland and often seen as the poor cousin to adjacent Hood River, completed a massive project to revitalize its dock.


Read more...

Downtime

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

I'm not very interesting,” says a modest Ray Di Carlo, CEO and executive producer of Bent Image Labs, an animation and visual effects studio.


Read more...

October surprise

News
Sunday, October 12, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER

Cylvia Hayes, tabloid vs. watchdog journalism and the looming threat of a Cascadia earthquake.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS