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Why Greg Fleming Went to Rockefeller

November 9, 2017

Gregory Fleming, the former president of Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, had plenty of options for his next gig. He chose to head the much smaller Rockefeller Capital Management because of the name, he tells the Financial Times.

It’s not quite as simple as that, of course. Fleming tells the paper that he had discussions with plenty of high-profile outfits after he left Morgan Stanley in January last year. These included BlackRock, Blackstone and American Express, he tells the FT. He kept busy teaching at Yale Law and helping baseball star Derek Jeter buy the Miami Marlins, according to the paper. Fleming eventually went for Rockefeller, owned by the Rockefeller family and the hedge fund Viking Global Investors, because it’s a “growth story,” the FT writes.

The firm, which only had about 200 workers when it launched last month, is unique in its business mix of wealth and asset management geared toward the ultra-rich, according to the paper. Fleming believes he could get the firm’s assets under management above $100 billion -- about eight times higher than its current levels -- within five years, the FT writes. He also plans to expand Rockefeller’s offices from New York, Washington and Boston to California, Texas, Florida and Illinois, according to the paper.

But the name certainly played a big part, the FT writes. For Fleming, part of the appeal was the Rockefellers’ dedication to philanthropy and environmental, social and governance issues, according to the paper.

“There were a significant number of things that I could have done with high-quality organizations,” he tells the FT. “But I really was very focused on something that had this profile, and when this came into my sights, I really wanted this brand and this name.”

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the Financial Times article cited in this story, click here.