Ivy Exec recently interviewed John LaPann, Chairman of Pathstone Federal Street.
IE: What is Pathstone Federal Street?
John LaPann: Pathstone Federal Street is one of the country’s largest ultra-high net worth and family office wealth managers. It was born from Federal Street which opened its doors 25 years ago, and Pathstone, which was founded in 2010.
At the time we combined, both firms were roughly equal in size. During the merger, each firm was thinking about how to structure themselves to be as competitive as possible going forward. We wanted to create a long-term credible commitment to our clients which we would achieve in two ways; the first was continuity, the second was attracting and keeping the talent necessary to provide the highest quality of advice and service.
It made sense to join as we both had complementary strengths. Federal Street needed continuity and it needed opportunities for its base of talent, and Pathstone needed additional experienced client facing and management professionals. This leaves us with a combined firm which is extremely well positioned for where the industry is headed.
IE: In which area of your company do you expect the most growth over the next 12 to 18 months?
JL: We are expecting the most growth with individuals/families and Private Foundations with 50mil or more that have recently had a liquidity event, including retiring senior executives from large firms.
IE: What changes and challenges do you think your company and industry will see in the next 5 years?
JL: The primary challenge will be recruiting and keeping top talent. Over the last five years, new business growth has slowed generally over the industry. We now have sufficient scale and capacity to be competitive in the market place.
IE: What attracts clients to Pathstone Federal Street?
JL: One is we understand the challenges that families face, especially at times of newly minted liquidity. Second we are independent and objective – there are no conflicts of interest. The client is assured that they are among clients like themselves, and that they will be provided advice that is not product driven.
IE: What attracted you to Pathstone Federal Street/what has made you stay?
JL: There are two parts: one I enjoy the service aspect, I get satisfaction from seeing clients be successful. Second, the work has tremendous opportunity to solve complex problems, I enjoy solving the new problems and the intellectual challenge.
IE: What words best describe your culture?
JL: Clients first, highest quality, collegial environment.
IE: What are the best perks that employees get at your company?
JL: Employees have the opportunity to get exposure to different areas of the business. It’s an environment where everyone’s opinion is valued. We provide quality health care, coverage for commuting expenses, a generous paid parental leave program, and Fridays are casual dress day where employees also get to donate to a charity. All donations are matched dollar for dollar by our organization.
IE: Which leadership qualities best insure success at your company? What common characteristics do you find in those who are successful?
JL: We look for 4 things: 1, people who are capable of doing exceptional work, 2 people who want to do exceptional work, 3 people work hard enough to do exceptional work, and 4 they want to play as part of a team.
IE: What gets you excited about going to work each day?
JL: I’ve had a great day when I helped a client solve a problem, helped them accomplish what they want to accomplish. When I see clients do that, and I’ve been a part (of their success) that’s what gets me up in the morning.