Greg Kushner remembered when he first started investing in a residential development as a 25-year-old. He bought land in Utah to prepare it for a 67-lot housing development. The land was in a suburban area near Roy, Utah, and the Hill Air Force Base and there was definitely going to be a demand for housing stock.

“I’ve always had an interest in real estate,” he says. “I did a 67-lot real estate development in Utah with a partner of mine that lived up there. … We brought in partners. I didn’t have much money back then.”

What insight did he have as a 25-year-old?  “I was dumb,” he says. “I didn’t know what I was getting into, to be honest with you.”

His biggest mistake was not fully understanding how the entitlement process could delay the deals. Also, “in Salt Lake City they have the 100-year flood where the actual Salt Lake rose.” The rising water table meant additional sewer drainage was needed.

Flash forward to 2019, and Kushner finds himself serving as chairman of an RIA firm set to take on some $5.5 billion in assets by the end of the year, and he has an ambitious plan to get to $10 billion in the next three years. Much of his firm’s growth has come in the last decade, and stemmed from those expansive plays in alternatives, especially real estate lending and ownership. Lido Advisors has, as a partner with other family offices and limited partner pools, come into ownership of apartments, industrial buildings and retail outlets in far-flung places beyond its Southern California roots such as Seattle, Kansas City, Dallas, Reno, Las Vegas, Austin, San Antonio and Nashville.

After eschewing RIA acquisitions for most of its 20-year existence and building organically as an RIA, Lido Advisors this year decided to start acquiring talent to add to its team. The firm has acquired four teams this year, bringing some $1.5 billion in AUM. Most recently, in October, the firm added Robert Marton and John Bute, an ex-Merrill Lynch team from Boca Raton, Fla., who stewarded some $700 million in assets. At the beginning of the year, Lido brought on board San Diego’s Ken Stern & Associates with some $400 million. Erica Ghotra brought over $60 million in September when joining as vice president, and Lido also made its first East Coast purchase in July, acquiring Coliseum Wealth in Rockville, Md., a deal that brought $50 million over. Lido is opening a new Boca office of 1,500 to 1,800 square feet to serve its Florida clientele. (The firm started the year with around $4 billion.)

“If we can add a billion a year organically and add another half a billion a year inorganically, that would be our desire,” Kushner says. “We’ve beefed up our technology, our compliance, our marketing, all the things that you do to get larger.”

As it heads eastwards, Lido is looking to expand strategically. “The decision for tuck-ins has been more of a geographical decision,” Jason Ozur, president of the firm, says. That means entering markets “where we have a large client base but we don’t have a larger home office. So in San Diego we now have a pretty sizable office.”

Attracting younger advisors is also critical. “We have had clients who’ve come from firms where the advisors were the same age as them,” Ozur notes. “What they didn’t want was a situation where they were 75 and their advisor was 75 years old.”

With the firm’s family office origins, it does estate planning and wealth and investment management for the very wealthy. Its clients range in assets from $5 million to $500 million, Ozur says, and have in the past been tied to the entertainment industry but now more to businesses in the tech industry; they are different kinds of clients whose problems require different kinds of solutions. Lido has offices in its home of Los Angeles, where it once did 90% of its business, and now other cities like Seattle, San Diego, Denver and Chicago, since now about three-quarters of its business are outside L.A.

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