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Greg Fleming dips into RIA gene pool with expected hire of Chris Dupuy to fish for elite wirehouse advisers in drive to reach $100 billion in UHNW assets

But can the CEO of Rockefeller Capital Management, a brand associated with a 19th century robber baron, convince 21st century tech magnates and next-gen middling millionaires to rub shoulders with Rockefellers... and Derek Jeter?

Tuesday, August 28, 2018 – 1:53 AM by Keith Girard
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Greg Fleming is building out his management team to go after top advisors

Brooke's Note: We earlier wrote about the departure of Chris Dupuy and his unlikely move to sports blogging. Two of our deep Wall Street sources stepped in to let us know that the blogging is a very much a placeholder and his move is more dramatic. One question people asked when Focus had its IPO was whether the liquidity would help to retain talent or hurt because the IPO carrot would be gone from the dangle. It appears in the Dupuy's case, he sees a better bet with Greg Fleming than Rudy Adolf. No doubt other factors come to play, including recruiting ammunition and inventory. But it offers at least a whiff of possibility that an IPO doesn't always lead to living happily ever after.

Greg Fleming, CEO at Rockefeller Capital Management, is making his first foray into the RIA gene pool, with the expected hire of Chris Dupuy, who somewhat mysteriously left Focus Financial Partners earlier this month, only a few weeks after its IPO and days before its first ever quarterly conference call. 

Chris Dupuy
Chris Dupuy: Ex-Focus Financial Exec heading for Rockefeller Capital. 

RIABiz first reported Dupuy's unannounced departure last weekend. He would only say he planned to return to wealth management in "the near future." But two independent sources have confirmed his next stop will be Fleming's shop, founded in 1882 solely to cater to oil baron John D. Rockefeller and a succession of heirs. See: Ex-Merrill exec Chris Dupuy makes exit from Focus Financial barely a month after IPO, leaves financial services after 34-year career; you won't believe what he's doing now

Fleming left his job as head of Wealth and Asset Management at Morgan Stanley two years ago when it became clear he wasn't getting CEO James Gorman's executive suite. He hooked up with hedge fund Viking Global Investors and cut a deal with the Rockefeller family to create Rockefeller Capital Management, owned by Viking through its private-equity arm. 

"Apparently, Fleming has made a bunch of big hires but all in the mode of getting the Morgan Stanley band back together -- complex heads, chief technology officer and the like from his alma mater," says a source.

"But it left a gap because these guys didn't speak RIA, which becomes a problem in talking the right game in technology, compliance, custody etc. to people joining an RIA. So,Dupuy is the first big 'RIA' hire, which makes it very significant," the source says. 

Shared connections

Fleming and Dupuy share a connection; both worked at Merrill Lynch. While Fleming climbed the executive ranks at Morgan Stanley, Dupuy held a succession of jobs over a 30-year career at Merrill. Fleming, however, is likely more interested in Dupuy's Focus Financial experience. 

As president of the firm's Focus Connections, Dupuy helped convince high-end wirehouse advisers to launch their own independent businesses. Focus provided the back-end support. When he made the move there, he said some friends ribbed him because they had never heard of the firm. 

“I get that a lot from people: ‘You went to work for who?’” he said after taking the Focus job. 

He won't have that problem now.

The Rockefeller name is synonymous with family wealth, even if the family titans have all passed on.  Fleming, who has a high-profile in the financial services industry, took over as president and CEO in March  with a lofty goal--to grow the firm from $18 billion to $100 billion in assets in the next five years. 

Recruiting hires

Since then, he's been filling out his executive ranks with mostly wirehouse cohorts.See: Recruiters salivate as Greg Fleming completes marriage to Rockefeller & Co. to fill 'HighTower' void but now begins the wait for a business model

 In July, Fleming went outside financial services to make his first recruiting hire. Jack Ryan, a former General  Electric executive and human resources veteran, was tapped to lead talent acquisition. Ryan reports directly to Fleming.

Then earlier this month (Aug 6),  he made his second. He hired Michael Outlaw, a 21-year  Morgan Stanley veteran to run East Coast recruiting. 

Outlaw, based in Atlanta, ran three Morgan Stanley branches and for the past year oversaw the wirehouse's Southeast private wealth offices for ultra-high-net-worth customers and their brokers. 

Dupuy, who worked out of Focus's San Francisco office, will likely be working the West Coast. His last job at Merrill was market executive of the pacific northwest market and head of the wealth management, private wealth and Asia international businesses, with 1,400 advisors and 2,000 employees.

Although their backgrounds are similar, to a point, only Dupuy has experience actually recruiting RIAs. In that sense, Fleming may be hedging his bets. 

"Going after wirehouse guys doesn’t really jive with the Rockefeller brand," says one source.  

Dupuy may be delayed in joining the firm to work through non-compete restrictions in his Focus contract. 

In his quest for $100 billion in assets, Fleming will be stepping over the bones of HighTower, which switched strategies from trying to recruit brokers to a more traditional RIA rollup after failing to make significant inroads at the big wire houses. See: How HighTower's executive shuffle, kicking CEO Elliot Weissbluth upstairs, opens door for new talent and paves way for Thomas Lee-fueled acquisitions splurge











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Mentioned in this article:

Focus Financial Partners, LLC
Consolidator/Roll-up Firm
Top Executive: Rudy Adolf

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