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2017 BEST Wealth Management Firm: Private Ocean

Author: Petter Westby & Cerrissa Kim
June, 2017 Issue

“We want to maintain and hone the business practices that have gotten us to where we are, but we also realize that as the business environment and our client’s needs change, so must we.” —Susan Dickson


Congratulations to Private Ocean in San Rafael as the repeat winner of the 2017 Best Wealth Management Company in the North Bay. “Being voted the Best Wealth Management Company in the North Bay means a lot to us, “ says Susan Dickson, chief operating officer at Private Ocean. “It confirms that we’re tracking well on our vision of being the premier wealth management firm in the Bay Area.”

 “We’ve been serving our Bay Area clients—most of whom reside here in Marin—for 34 years, and while we’ve experienced great success, we’re always looking for new avenues to further enhance our services,” Dickson adds. “We want to maintain and hone the business practices that have gotten us to where we are, but we also realize that as the business environment and our client’s needs change, so must we. Hence, we’re taking an active approach to balancing the use of technology with the real, honest, and hands-on client relationships that we have always fostered. Along those same lines, we’re taking a proactive role in shaping our next generation leadership to be in line with the evolving direction of the firm. We have a leadership succession plan in place, reflecting the external as well as internal developments and positioning us for long-term continued success.”

Private Ocean is a privately-owned, large boutique wealth management firm with 26 employees, serving their 465 or so clients with customized financial planning and investment strategy. Generally, the investment focus is on long-term gains with a solid risk adjusted approach.  Headquartered in Marin, the majority of their clients, most of whom are individuals, are located in the area. Private Ocean’s Bay Area client base spans from the South Bay to Napa County, and also includes the East Bay, as well as Sonoma County. Private Ocean also serves clients living in other California locales, 20 different states and several foreign countries.

“We’re looking for continuing and accelerated growth within our extended footprint and possibly establishing a second office to facilitate the expansion objective,” says Dickson, who has been with Private Ocean for 12 years. “As we are looking to grow our practice, its important that we don’t discount the value of the core strengths that have gotten us to where we are, namely personal, effective hands-on client wealth management relationships. We need to balance our evolution and growth while continuing to be a boutique shop, and we need to land at a size that’s not too big.

“As our name, Private Ocean, suggests, within our company we have an ‘ocean’ of very powerful and deep resources to pull from in terms of thought leadership, recognized industry expertise, and horsepower, yet we apply these vast resources at an individual (or private) level with our clients. As we accelerate our growth, we need to sustain being a private ocean.”

Dickson points out that growth within their industry has traditionally been referral based and not so much driven by push marketing and advertising. Private Ocean is continuing its expansion and adaptation to an evolving market.  Says Dickson, “The competitive landscape is becoming more so, and we are actively seeking ways to expand in the areas of visibility building as we continue our journey.”

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