Forbes Family Trust open to further expansion after Optima, AM Global deals

  • Why this is important: family offices are increasingly seeking to serve their clients across multiple asset classes.

Forbes Family Trust grabbed headlines last week when it acquired Optima Fund Management, just months after buying AM Global Family Investment Office.

When Buyouts asked CEO Keith Bloomfield if any more acquisitions were on the horizon, he did not rule it out.

“Currently we have no plans to do so, but we’re always open to interesting opportunities,” he said.

FFT is looking for any edge to provide the best result for its clients, Bloomfield said, for whom it manages about $5 billion in assets.

“We’re not necessarily looking to acquire firms, but when we meet a team that we think is excellent in a geography that makes sense, and they are interested in partnering with us, we take a deep, serious look at it,” he said.

The Optima acquisition came from professional admiration for founder and CEO D. Dixon Boardman, who is now a vice chairman at FFT in addition to running Optima, Bloomfield said.

Optima offers “a range of services including multi-manager hedge fund programs, custom advisory services and single-manager hedge funds,” according to PitchBook.

Bloomfield said the deal also was driven by the idea that hedge funds may be set for a comeback.

“For the last 10 years or so, and I don’t think it’s a secret, hedge funds have had the wind in their face, so to speak, and we strongly believe that is changing,” Bloomfield said. “I think even in Q1 results people can see that—the wind is somewhat shifting to the backs of hedge funds.”

Last month, Hedge Fund Research reported that hedge funds in 2019 Q1 posted their best start to a year since 2006.

“We think that the strategies we have are absolutely well-positioned to perform as markers grow more volatile. So we thought this was a very interesting time to partner up with a firm like Optima,” Bloomfield told Buyouts.

He said it seemed to make sense for smaller firms to make acquisitions if they want to be competitive.

“It’s hard to take on a large client if you only have a few hundred million dollars of assets under management, even if you’re the greatest team they’ve ever seen, because then the concentration of the client at the firm is very high,” he said. “I think smaller firms should be [doing acquisitions] if they want to grow to real scale, looking for larger firms to partner with so that they’re not so concentrated. So, I think that’s something that’s happening in the ultra high net worth space.”

Bloomfield stressed that FFT invests in every asset class, with a focus on alternatives, which he called the firm’s “secret sauce,” though based on market forces it “may or may not be overweight or underweight” at any given time.

Forbes Family Trust was originally formed to serve the Forbes family, best known for founding Forbes magazine, but it has no connection to the magazine or the company that publishes it, Forbes Media.

In 2009, FFT began serving other families and family offices. Its parent company is FWM Holdings, which also owns LGL Partners, a family office based in Pennsylvania. In 2017, FFT entered into a partnership with Wealth Partners Capital Group.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled FWM Holdings. Also, the word ‘need’ was changed to ‘meet’ in the quote in the fifth paragraph to reflect what the speaker said. The report has been updated.