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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Silver Bridge Keeps Pushing Its Profile Higher

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor , 13 November 2012

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At Silver Bridge, the US wealth management firm focusing on ultra high net worth clients, its managers say that a stand-alone, focused approach to wealth management without distractions is the ideal approach for clients.

Editor's note: The article is part of a series of interviews held with wealth managers in the US west coast prior to the US presidential elections. 

One argument that comes up a good deal in the global wealth management industry is how a business can be shaped so as to manage, or minimize, conflicts of interest particularly in the case of large firms providing different services under one roof.

At Silver Bridge, the US wealth management firm focusing on ultra high net worth clients, its managers say that a stand-alone, focused approach to wealth management without distractions is the ideal approach for clients. In that case, there need be no fear about “product push”.

“We don’t believe in managing conflicts of interest but in eliminating them,” Martim de Arantes Oliveira, regional director for the west coast, told this publication during an interview at his firm’s San Francisco office. His firm oversees more than $3.0 billion of client money.

A benefit of lacking such conflicts, as can happen in big, all-in-one banking groups, de Arantes said, is that a genuinely independent wealth manager is less likely to be hobbled by regulation.

“I have never felt encumbered by regulation. It prevents the type of action that has turned our industry into a marsh-pit of dirty practices,” he said. “It [scandals and failures] have done tremendous damage,” he continued.

“The business is as scalable as it can be if our prime concern is the quality of the service we give to clients. There is no such thing as a cookie-cutter approach to the type of clients we serve,” he said. “We have to understand the limitations of scaling. Our clients are people who are very good at creating wealth…the learning curve to stewardship of that wealth is extremely steep,” he said. “A lot of mistakes can be made when you have gone from owner of operating assets to owner of a financial asset.”

This 80-year-old firm – it gets its name from a bridge in Boston where the firm started out – came into being when its parent firm, Wilmer Hale, started a wealth management practice, eventually becoming Silver Bridge. The actual rebranding is recent, happening in 2008, changing from the Hale Dorr Capital Management moniker. The firm's chief executive is Stephen Prostano; Thomas Manning leads the Silver Bridge Investment Solutions Group. 

“The rebranding came about when we took some very significant steps to move away from being a very private firm and move out into the limelight. The way we did this was by participating much more in industry events,” he said.

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