Silicon Valley RIA practice hopes that Steve Bono can jump start its $4 billion practice
March 9, 2010 — 5:57 AM UTC by Brooke Southall
Constellation Wealth Advisors announced yesterday that it hired a former football star to join the firm as a principal. It hopes Steve Bono, working from its Menlo Park office, will bring aboard ultra high net worth clients.
The firm already manages about $4 billion, but in the contest for clients with $10 million or more in assets, the firm’s leadership thought that having NFL star on the team would help.
Bono spent fifteen years as an NFL quarterback, playing for seven teams, including in two Super Bowls and one Pro Bowl. He spent five years with the San Francisco 49ers. He retired in 2000.
“Steve is a California sports icon, an active member of the Bay Area community and a proven talent in the financial services industry,” said Jon Goldstein, co-CEO of Constellation. “He represents a tremendous resource to help fuel Constellation’s growth.”
By hiring Bono, Constellation is jumping on a new bandwagon, according to Stephanie Bogan, CEO of Quantuvis Consulting of Redlands, Calif.
Pure rainmaker role
“Advisors realize they need firm-driven marketing as opposed to advisor-driven marketing,” she says. “We see a trend toward creating a pure rainmaker role” within RIA practices.
Constellation now has 31 employees, including nine people in Menlo Park. It created the rainmaker role for Bono to get the most out of the advisory capabilities that it has put in place since its founding.
“Our number one goal is to leverage that investment,” Goldstein says.
Constellation will report the hiring of a second rainmaker [hinting that it may be a famous name] in its New York offices in coming weeks, he adds.
One new client
Bono joined Constellation in January and he has already secured one new client for the firm. He believes that he is on track to attract many more.
“A number of friends and acquaintances have asked me about Constellation,” Bono says. “I take that as a sign that they’re interested.”
There is an art to hiring a good rainmaker and making them successful, according to Bogan.
“Just being a personality does not generate business,” she says. “That person has to have talent.”
Goldstein believes that he has hired plenty of talent.
Bono retired from the NFL in 2000, and the next year he joined his former 49ers teammates Harris Barton, Ronnie Lott and Joe Montana at Champion Ventures (the predecessor to HRJ Capital. Champion is a venture capital, private equity and real estate fund of funds.
He was also a vice president of market development with Bank of America Private Bank. Prior to joining Constellation, he was a principal with ThinkEquity Partners, an investment bank in San Francisco.
This post-football experience played into Constellation’s decision to hire Bono, according to Goldstein.
“We’re pretty excited,” he says. “This is not something we’ve done frivolously.”
Bogan says Constellation is on the right track.
“Steve Bono has clearly been in the [financial advisory] space,” she says. “You don’t just go get your local hockey guy. It’s an expensive experiment.”
Bono says he’s already been part of one experiment that he believes that he learned from. He was part of the effort when ThinkEquity formed its wealth management division.
“They got started but never got very far,” he says. “There were changes in management, bad economic times and too many people [relative to the unit’s production.]”
Goldstein says that he believes that Bono will be able to bring both sports stars and Silicon Valley stars to Constellation. The common denominator is that they have lucrative but abbreviated careers and so financial plans need to be developed to make the money last.
Bono fits the rainmaker profile because his star power leaves little doubt that people will readily join him for a lunch, according to Bogan.
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