Rockefeller Capital Management, an offshoot of Rockefeller & Co., once the family office of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, launched with about $18 billion under management in March 2018 with the backing of hedge fund Viking Global Investors.

The wealth management firm is headed by president and CEO Gregory Fleming, who previously was president of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and Morgan Stanley Investment Management. Prior to that, he was president and chief operating officer of Merrill Lynch.

After Fleming joined Rockefeller he immediately began pulling in top talent from his former wirehouse employers, and he set a lofty goal of growing assets under management to $100 billion within five years.

Among the first wave of hires was Chris Randazzo, managing director, head of wealth management and head of technology and operations. Randazzo joined from Morgan Stanley, where he was chief information officer for Global Wealth Management and Investment Management.

In a Q&A, Randazzo discusses the firm’s status, its focus and where it's headed.

Financial Advisor: One of the goals that was set when Rockefeller Capital Management opened in 2018 was to reach the $100 billion AUM mark within five years. What is your AUM today, and are you on track to meet that goal?

Chris Randazzo: Yes—we are privileged to help our clients reach their financial goals and remain on track with respect to our five-year goal. As of May 18, 2020, we are responsible for roughly $43.36 billion in client assets.

FA: How many teams and advisors/brokers have been recruited since CEO Greg Fleming came on board in 2018? How many have been recruited in 2020? Is there a target advisor headcount?

Randazzo: We currently have 39 private wealth advisor teams; 24 teams have joined us so far in 2020. There is no advisor headcount target. Instead, we are focused on finding advisors who, at a practice level and personally, are a great fit for our company. The goal is finding the right people who fit our culture, not finding a specific number of people.

FA: What has been the impact of Covid-19 and the upheaval in the economy and market on the business? How was the firm able to navigate through the pandemic?

Randazzo: Fortunately, from a business perspective there has been very little impact. Thanks to having great people on our team and a flexible technology platform that allows us to work anywhere with no loss of productivity, we shifted rather effortlessly to a work-from-home situation. This has included the ability to bring new teams to our company, which has continued without interruption in 2020. We remain focused on the health and safety of our employees and continue to make that our highest priority.

FA: Rockefeller Capital Management has aggressively recruited many “best-in-class” advisors. It has been written that CEO Fleming has been extending deals to these private wealth brokers that can reach upwards of 200% of their trailing 12-month production. Can you share the firm’s recruiting offer?

Randazzo: We are very focused on bringing to Rockefeller top advisors with extensive experience and a very sophisticated skill set, and we are offering compensation that we feel is competitive and appropriate. The value proposition for the advisors who join us has as much – if not more – to do with the opportunity we offer them to serve their clients and grow their businesses. For example, our technology has enabled advisors to communicate with and service their clients seamlessly throughout the pandemic. Additionally, the investments we can provide on our platform are attractive to advisors who want to offer unique opportunities to their clients.

FA: In the beginning, you were targeting multimillionaires/billionaires; now it seems like you are going after the guy next door with $4 million or $5 million. What prompted that change?

Randazzo: Our approach from the beginning has been to empower our advisors to determine whether the resources of Rockefeller Capital Management make sense for a potential client. Our advisors are among the most accomplished and sophisticated professionals in our industry. We have every confidence in their ability to determine when the resources of Rockefeller make sense for a client or a potential client.

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