In a move that caught the wealth management world by surprise today, London-based Campden Media has acquired the Institute for Private Investors, the well-known 21-year old, peer-to-peer membership organization for ultra-wealthy families headed and founded by Charlotte Beyer. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The 63-year old Beyer will remain with IPI as chief executive officer, but Kristi Kuechler, San Francisco-based president of the organization and Beyer’s heir apparent, has resigned. Her responsibilities will be assumed by Mindy Rosenthal, Campden managing director for North America.
Campden specializes in conferences and networking forums for ultra-high net worth families, family office executives and wealth managers held around the world in locations including Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Zurich, Moscow and London. The company also conducts research and publishes educational material as well as magazines and websites targeted at the family office and family business market.
Acquiring IPI, which has about 1,100 members who have combined assets of approximately $50 billion, strengthens Campden’s footprint in the U.S. and adds a “ready-made membership” who can exchange information with the company’s existing community of wealthy families around the world, said John Pettifor, Campden’s chief executive.
IPI’s on-line “memberlink” service, used by members to confidentially discuss investment and other issues facing wealthy families, was particularly attractive, Pettifor said. “It’s very impressive what IPI has been able to do taking private conversations online,” he explained. “The benefits of expanding it to an international scale are a no-brainer.”
Rosenthal will help integrate the two companies, but IPI will remain a separate brand, Pettifor added.
While the day-to-day functions of IPI won’t change, Rosenthal said she wants to “strengthen membership benefits,” beginning with allowing IPI members to attend Campden events for free.
The biggest change for IPI, Rosenthal said, will be “the globalization of the community. IPI members are largely domestic, and they are interested in meeting other like-minded families around the world.”
Only 10 percent of IPI’s membership came from outside the U.S., according to Beyer. “It became increasingly clear to me that investors needed and wanted a global perspective,” she said, “and it wasn’t going to happen if I hired someone to get on a plane. I knew we ultimately needed IPIs all over the world and this was the way we could do it.”
The international dimension of the acquisition is indeed the most noteworthy, according to industry observers.
“There is no association for wealthy families that is truly global,” said Jamie McLaughlin, former chief executive of Geller Family Office Services and a frequent public speaker on wealth management topics. “This raises the stakes in terms of [Campden’s] leadership as a resource for families of great wealth and makes them instantly legitimate as a global breakout business.”McLaughlin also noted that there are an estimated 30,000 and 50,000 families with assets of over $50 million in North America, yet organizations catering to that market, including IPI, the Family Office Exchange and Tiger 21 have only a very small percentage of the market. “You have to wonder why 97 percent of those families aren’t joiners,” he said. “Maybe they don’t know enough about the opportunity for peer group exchange, which tells me there is a huge opportunity for growth globally.”