News, Vision & Voice for the Advisory Community


Cresset cracks the family office market with a unique proposition; a suite of touchy-feely services that go beyond money management and help clients manage their lives

Cresset, guided by two savvy venture capitalists. is aiming to build the next-generation multi-family office on an independent, employee- and client-owned platform

Wednesday, August 15, 2018 – 4:42 PM by By Lisa Shidler
no description available
Eric Becker brings client point of view to family office

Chicago-based Cresset Capital Management, founded by private equity entrepreneurs Eric Becker and Avy Stein, just launched a family office in San Francisco that will include touchy-feely services that most other family offices don't offer.

Avy Stein: Bringing a unique family office to market.

Cresset’s family office will not only hire advisors, but also experts who can handle family coaching, family governance and leadership development, as well as family educational, family history and genealogy, spokesman Michael Walsh says.

“The range of backgrounds and expertise makes this new entity rather unique in the industry,” Walsh claims..

"Cresset’s primary difference is that they have an in-house Private Alpha generator for real estate and operating company opportunities. These groups are staffed by industry leaders in their respective fields. Investments they source and vet are made available to Cresset clients on preferred terms," he adds.

Becker and Stein say the reason for starting a family office division is to offer a unique approach that is client-centric rather than  advisor-centric.

Pershing’s Mark Tibergien is convinced Cresset is the real deal and different from the rest.

“Cresset comes from a unique position as a competitor in the wealth management and multi-family office space,” he says. "Becker and Stein joined forces because they were disappointed in the experiences they had with well-known providers."


In early August, Cresset announced it had hired eight more executives - all bankers.. The new additions are:

  • Scott Winget, senior managing director for family enterprise consulting, formerly senior vice president and senior managing director for wealth sustainability with Ascent Private Capital Management of U.S. Bank.
  • Melissa Donohue, senior managing director for family wealth education and leadership development, formerly senior wealth education specialist with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.
  •   Mark Foster, senior managing director for banking and credit consulting; formerly senior managing director, head of private banking with Ascent Private Capital Management of U.S. Bank.
  •  Jan Farren, – senior managing director of marketing, communication, learning and development; formerly senior vice president and senior managing director of marketing and professional development with Ascent Private Capital Management of U.S. Bank.
  •  Will Amerine, managing director of strategic partnerships, formerly managing director of strategic relationships at Ascent Private Capital Management of U.S. Bank.
  •  Martim De Arantes Oliveira, regional managing director, northern California; formerly regional managing director and senior vice president with Ascent Private Capital Management of U.S. Bank.
  •  Sisi Tran, managing director, wealth strategist, northern California; formerly senior vice president, managing director, wealth strategy with Ascent Private Capital Management of U.S. Bank.
  •  Tom Crotty, managing director, family office advisory, northern California; formerly managing director, CFO services with Ascent Private Capital Management of U.S. Bank.
  Source: Cresset Capital Management

They're also private equity backers, which is another unique combination not seen every day in the family office arena.

Private equity background

Becker is co-founder and advisor of Sterling Partners, founded in 1983. It's a growth-focused private equity firm with offices in Chicago, Baltimore and Miami.

Stein is co-founder and managing partner of Willis Stein & Partners, a venture capital and private equity firm founded in 1994. Based in Northbrook, IL., the firm has invested more than $3 billion in more than 200 deals since it opened its doors.

Becker, 56, and Stein, 63, were both retired when they joined this venture together. They are listed with the company as co-founders and co-chairmen. 

Cresset has been banking on bank experts to staff its offices. In early August, the firm hired eight more executives-- all from well-known institutions. But in his statement, Becker focuses on their experience in family offices. 

“During their careers, they have worked with very successful families and multi-family offices, and now will build the next-generation multi-family office on our independent, employee- and client-owned platform," Becker said in a statement.

Stein said in a statement that the company's new leadership will help its family office succeed. 

“Because of the strong leadership and talent we now have in place, we are ahead of our strategic business plan for Cresset Family Office and have the opportunity to provide an unprecedented level of service," he said in a statement. 

Having a private office staffed with various leaders is crucial for success, Tibergien agrees.

“One thing Avy and Eric also recognize is that this business is not just about managing money any more, but how to help their clients navigate their lives. Their focus on a different client experience aligned to behavior and expectations could be another key differentiator going forward,” he says.

Unique growth track

The growth of Cresset is also unique. When asked how the firm gained $2 billion in assets in just a year's time Walsh didn't offer specifics, but did say the growth wasn't simply from its founders and partners.

"As far as AUM and how Cresset has achieved more than $2 billion in AUM in less than a year, Cresset is obviously on a fast-growth trajectory. Their founders and their families are clients, and while significant, they do not come near to constituting the majority of assets on the platform."

"Cresset’s story is resonating with prospects, and the client base is broad and geographically diverse. They are fortunate to be working with several extremely wealthy families who represent significant assets on the platform," Walsh said.

The target client will be families with more than $50 million in net worth, Cole explains. He says the firm can also work with clients whose net worth is even lower – around $25 million to $30 million.

“We think we can give them the types of family offices services and technology innovation that doesn’t exist in the marketplace today,” Cole says. “This is a whole brand new venture and we’re going to build something brand new at Cresset."

When asked exactly what Cresset's family office will do differently Cole maintains that his firm wants to be involved in every aspect of its clients’ financial life.

"We want help them with how they handle integrated risk management, private banking and tax planning. We're going to build a strategic platform for them that hasn't been done for families," he explains. .

"With a level of independence, it makes it makes it very different than what is done today. It's really about independence and bringing these services to a number of families that need these services, but it's too expensive to set up a family office themselves."

Howard E. Spector, DDS

Howard E. Spector, DDS

August 17, 2018 — 6:41 PM
What an outstanding concept for a wealth management company! Forty (40) years as a client with many brokerage firms and their "Private Client Groups", and I have yet to have any "advisor" who also was able to provide the adjunctive services that Cresset can. Bravo!

RIABiz Directory

The Industry Sourcebook for RIAs

   |    LISTING

RIABiz Directory sponsored by:

Directory Sponsor Logo