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Chris Dupuy

Rockefeller Capital Management Lands New COO to Lead Build Out of Wealth Business

Chris Dupuy felt his job was done at Focus, and was attracted to the opportunity to build a wealth management platform from scratch.

When Chris Dupuy left Focus Financial Partners over the summer, just a few weeks after the firm announced its initial public offering, his next move was highly anticipated. Dupuy, former managing director and president of Focus Independence, has joined Rockefeller Capital Management, led by former Morgan Stanley wealth executive Greg Fleming, as chief operating officer of the wealth management business.

New York-based Rockefeller Capital Management, formed through the acquisition of family office Rockefeller & Co. by its management team as well as an investment fund from Viking Global Investors and a Rockefeller family trust, launched earlier this year.

Dupuy will have an instrumental role in building out Rockefeller’s wealth management platform, including determining which new markets to enter, the capabilities that will be provided to advisors, and which providers the firm will use. He’ll also develop advisor compensation plans, the supervisory structure in the branch system and operational structure.

“I loved the idea that we’re combining a respected brand and name with over 100 years of history and relevance to the United States with the opportunity to create from scratch an intuitive and forward-thinking platform that the best advisors will gravitate to,” Dupuy said. “We have the opportunity in front of us to create something that doesn’t exist today.”

The firm will start recruiting in the major markets, such as San Francisco, where Dupuy is based, Chicago, Los Angeles and Texas. The first team to come on board is in New York.

Dupuy has a long history in the wirehouse world; he started his career as an advisor at Merrill Lynch at aged 19.

“I think what we’re seeing demographically within the industry right now is a tremendous amount of dissatisfaction on both the advisor level and the client level with the big financial super market made up of the major firms; in particular, the folks that are feeling the most pressure are the top advisors who have established the most significant practices through the years,” he said. “The very large firms right now are in the process of changing things in a way that kind of homogenizes the offering at these big firms, where the emphasis becomes the firm, not the advisor.

“And as these firms get harder and harder to navigate, the risk to the advisor is that they’re no longer going to be able to deliver on what they’ve built the basis of the relationship around.”

There aren’t a lot of alternative models out there for sophisticated advisors. His pitch to recruits, however, is that Rockefeller offers an entrepreneurial atmosphere, trusted brand and leadership team and a tech-driven platform that provides flexibility and open architecture.

But he adds that the firm is going to be selective about the advisors they bring on.

“We’re not going to be looking for high volume—out there recruiting everybody that we come across. We’re going to be very selective both in terms of the quality of the business and the quality of the individual who’s built the business.”

When Focus went public this summer, Dupuy felt it was a good opportunity to jump to another firm.

“A lot of what I had joined Focus to do was to build out the Focus Independence business,” he said. “That has been done. It culminated in the company accomplishing many of their long-range objectives with becoming a public company. So for me, it kind of represented a good time to take a step back and think about at this stage in my career what was going to be the next step.”

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