West Oak Capital helps clients pursue their financial objectives in an uncertain and often risky economic environment. It is about more than just numbers. In addition to the management of their investment portfolios, our work with clients often includes thinking about a variety of life’s issues to protect their lifestyle and look out for family members.
Investment management has long been the bastion of large banks, brokerage firms and insurance companies. However, people are increasingly attracted to a different type of service model, the independent registered investment advisor (RIA). Operating under a fiduciary standard of care that puts their clients’ best interests first, RIA firms generally provide more objective advice, better cost management and more personalized attention to each client’s specific situation.
The stock market declines of 2000–2002 and 2008 disrupted the activities of many large investment firms. While many of the bigger firms restructured, clients found greater attention and continuity of service with local boutique shops where they had direct access to the professional who actually manages their assets. In order to provide a higher level of care to clients, Byron Snider left U.S. Trust Company to launch his own firm with his wife, Lisa. We opened Live Oak Capital on October 1, 2003, which became West Oak Capital after a lengthy process to trademark the company name.
The rapid growth of RIA firms has created an entire community of businesses to support them. We typically appoint Charles Schwab as custodian to safeguard client assets. As the largest custodian in the industry, Schwab provides important protections for clients, as well as administrative, research and trading capabilities necessary for West Oak Capital to manage client portfolios. In addition, we have found outside specialists that provide legal work, compliance consulting, accounting, payroll, insurance, employee benefits and a variety of other back-office services needed to successfully manage and grow our practice. The ability to subcontract with firms that specialize in their unique area of expertise provides West Oak Capital with top notch capabilities and resources, while enabling us to remain focused on managing client portfolios.
Boutique investment firms are attractive places for experienced professionals. We welcome portfolio managers with solid credentials, a client-focused mindset and a certain degree of humility. In 2006, we brought Jerry Clebanoff on board. Jerry had a long and productive tenure as Chief Investment Officer at City National Bank, followed by six years at U.S. Trust Company, where he and Byron worked together.
We moved to new, larger office space and added support staff to help clients with their account administration, as well as coordinating our internal compliance, reporting and proxy voting activities. Most recently, we added Darin White as our Operations Manager. After working for several large organizations for more than twenty years, Darin was attracted to the opportunity to become a more important part of a smaller organization in which he could be directly helpful to clients.
In the course of working with our clients, they often share personal observations, stories and experiences that have been meaningful in their lives. In some cases, those experiences have led them to endorse specific charities. West Oak Capital is pleased to support our local community and charities, including many causes that are important to our clients.
We make housecalls. Our clients’ time is valuable, so it is often the case that we will meet at their home or office. Of course, we are available by telephone and email to discuss any questions or action items for their accounts. Clients typically authorize us to work with their accountant and attorney to coordinate our activities and provide any information needed to handle their tax and legal work. We prepare quarterly updates on the capital markets, and clients receive trade confirmations and regular account statements directly from our independent custodian, Charles Schwab.
We manage each account separately, which gives our clients additional transparency and control over their portfolios. That is an important part of our ability to provide comfort for our clients, particularly during turbulent market conditions. As a testament to the service we are able to provide, all of our clients have come by way of referral.
It has been more than a decade since West Oak Capital first opened its doors, and our company has been listed among the most prominent wealth management firms in our region in such publications as the Pacific Coast Business Times and San Fernando Valley Business Journal. We are extremely grateful for the support we have received from our clients, friends and other professional service providers who have helped us build our practice. Thank you for letting us tell you “our story,” and we welcome a visit from you whenever you are in the neighborhood.