Rock the Boat: How One Rep Markets Himself in the Hamptons

Rock the Boat: How One Rep Markets Himself in the Hamptons

How do you get your name out there? Sometimes it’s as easy as a sign.

Advisors spend a lot of time trying to get their name in front of potential clients—especially high-net-worth individuals. But mailings, newsletters and blogs are so passé. Instead, one New York-based Morgan Stanley advisor decided to go where the super rich go. And in New York in this time of year, that's the Hamptons.

Robert Gilman, who caters to ultra high-net-worth families and privately held companies, sponsored the Shelter Island Shuttle Co., a local tender service that transports customers from their yachts anchored in the bay directly to Sunset Beach on Shelter Island, located in the Hamptons. Without any docks nearby, small tenders are the only way to easily reach the beach.

Now when the wealthy boat owners from the nearby Hamptons stop by to grab a bite to eat or sunbathe on the beach, they are greeted with a sign for the Gilman Wealth Management Group at Morgan Stanley.

“Other ads don’t get as much reaction,” said John Eicher, owner of the small boat service. When people see Morgan Stanley and Gilman’s name, they get excited, he added, noting that a lot of his customers know the advisor.

“I’ve gotten comments from my clients, who love it, and from my competition, who are envious,” Gilman said. He purchased the sponsorship about halfway through the summer, after Eicher had two other advertisers onboard, including a local commercial realtor. “It was pretty easy to convince him,” Eicher said.

Gilman, who has lived in East Hampton for 20 years, said the advertising opportunity was perfect for his practice. “Shelter Island is a special place,” he said. “Advertising to that market, those with yachts going to the island, is perfect.”

His Manhattan-based group, which is one of the largest at the firm in discretionary assets, focuses on short-term fixed income asset management, as well as complex estate planning, matters of familial structure and preparation and intergenerational wealth transfer.

The team’s clients preside primarily in Manhattan, and then in the Hamptons during the summer. “We’ve found it’s extremely important to be close to our clients, spend time with them face-to-face,” Gilman said, noting he spends a lot of time in the area once the warm weather hits. “A lunch meeting in the Hamptons can be much more beneficial than five to six meetings in the city.”

A boat enthusiast himself, Gilman spends a lot of time on the boat with his wife and two children, stopping frequently at Sunset Beach for a bite to eat or an ice cream run. And that’s how he started talking with Eicher about the sponsorship.

“He’s been a client for about a year; I knew him pretty well,” Eicher said. And when he started thinking of creative ways to build his business earlier this summer, advertising seemed a good bet. “Robert focuses on high-net-worth clients—that’s everyone out here,” he said.

“The Hamptons are where the money is at,” Gilman agreed. The sign will remain on the boat through Labor Day, after which Eicher will close up shop for the season. A recent graduate of Binghamton University, Eicher starts a full-time position with InterActiveCorp. in Chelsea on Wednesday.

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