Market Street Trust Company is one of a growing number of sophisticated wealth management organizations that began as single-family offices in the early part of the 20th century. The histories of each organization are, of course, as unique as the families themselves and in the case of Market Street can be traced back to Amory Houghton, who in 1851 founded Corning Glass Works.

Now named Corning Inc., the company has a long history of contributing to the creation of many life-changing technologies, including designing the housing for Thomas Edison’s lightbulb, inventing heat-resistant Pyrex lab glassware and kitchenware and building the mirrors for the Hubble telescope. The company is also responsible for major developments in the areas of glass housings; fiber optics; and durable, high-resolution LCD screens used in smartphones, tablets, computers and TVs.

As Corning grew in both value and influence, the extended Houghton family needed a way to deal with company stock and dividends that were largely held in trust, and it established a family office in 1909 to support the family trustees. The family office responded to the changing size and needs of the anchor family over the decades, eventually creating a limited-purpose trust company and opening its door to other households.

An Evolving Family Office
This year, the family office celebrates its 105th anniversary. In addition to serving the eighth generation of Amory Houghton’s family, Market Street administers nearly 300 trusts and 600 tax filings each year on behalf of its select client base.

James D. Houghton, chairman of Market Street’s board of directors and the great-great-great-grandson of Amory, says the evolution of the family office has reflected a shift in thinking that started in the 1980s with his father and uncle.

“They were looking to the future and helped institute some changes that formed the foundation of who we are today,” he says.

Those changes included the creation of the private trust company; the addition of Market Street as the corporate trustee, a role previously filled by senior family members; the implementation of a more diversified investment program to manage the highly concentrated Corning stock; and the formation of a board to provide more formal governance. One of the most significant differences, he recalls, was “the orientation of the trustees to the family members. We were viewed as clients of a full-service family office rather than just beneficiaries.”

About a decade after these changes were set in motion, Market Street entered another transitional phase, as new generations of family members and employees stepped into leadership roles. Houghton joined the board in 1995 at the age of 31 as part of an effort to incorporate the views of younger family members into family office leadership. A few years later, his cousin, Alanson Houghton III, became the first chairman of the board from the sixth generation and joined a small team of emerging leaders to develop a strategic plan for the business.

Marianne Wilder Young, a 19-year veteran of Market Street and its current president, was also part of that team. “We surveyed our clients and brought in some key outside perspectives that helped us clarify issues related to wealth sustainability, family engagement and cost-effectiveness,” Young says.

First « 1 2 3 4 » Next