Cresset Wealth Advisors, one of the nation's fastest-growing startup wealth advisory firms, plans to hire dozens of employees in its new West Palm Beach office.
Eric Becker, co-chairman of the company, co-founded Cresset with Avy Stein in 2017 and the firm has attracted $2.7 billion in assets under management in the past 11 months. Representing wealthy families, its key targets for investment are real estate, private equity funds, direct business investments and secondary offerings/resales of private equity fund ownership stakes.
The Chicago-based firm signed an 8,000-square-foot lease at CityPlace Tower. The deal was brokered by Robert Hamman of SVN Florida.
Becker said the new office was designed for 30 to 40 employees, and he hopes to staff it relatively quickly. He’s seeking to hire wealth advisers and technology specialists for the firm’s mobile platform.
“What is fantastic about West Palm Beach is its access,” said Becker, a resident of Jupiter. “We have unbelievable transportation, either off Interstate 95 or taking the [Brightline] train all the way to American Airlines Arena in Miami. There’s easy access to Palm Beach island, access to a great airport, and wonderful hotels.”
Becker said many C-level executives and companies have been moving to South Florida, so that provides a great base of clients. He’s found the area very welcoming to business. Cresset worked with the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County to find space.
BDB President and CEO Kelly Smallridge said she’s been in touch with Becker since 2014, when he was with private equity firm Sterling Partners. After speaking periodically for several years, Becker asked Smallridge for a list of available office space for his financial firm in 2017. By March 2018, Becker had selected CityPlace Tower as his location, but needed help from the BDB, Smallridge said.
"In May of 2018, the Business Development Board called a meeting with the city of West Palm Beach and all parties involved in renovating the office space,” Smallridge said. "The BDB requested an expedited process and, within a week, the city issued a permit to move forward with the renovation of the space. This was a big deal because winning deals is about speed to market and workforce."
Becker said the newly renovated office should open in October, but Cresset already has three employees in temporary space in the building. It recruited Bob Duncan from U.S. Trust in Palm Beach to lead the office, and also hired Tony Comorat from Sabadell Bank & Trust and Jack Ablin from BMO Harris Private Bank.
Cresset is able to hire experienced wealth advisers because of its unique approach to family planning and the fact that all employees have an ownership stake in the company, Becker said.
After working in private equity for 30 years and then spending a year focused on community service, Becker came out of retirement to co-found Cresset because he didn’t see any firm that could properly plan for his family’s future.
“People aren’t just looking for someone to manage stocks and bonds,” he said. “They are looking for someone who will provide holistic and broad solutions. They want help not just with growing investments and assets, but with achieving their goals and aspirations for them, their family and their business.”
In addition to seeking employees and clients in South Florida, Cresset will be on the lookout for investment opportunities, Becker said. The firm is open to speaking with real estate developers, especially those with multifamily projects in growing markets, and business owners seeking to sell or raise capital, he said.
“Families are an emerging force in the investment community,” Becker said.