It was the sale of his company that led Kenneth Akeson to set up a business designed to help individuals and families of substantial wealth to manage their lives better when it came to things like bill paying and administration.
“My father founded and developed a business over 17 years, selling it to a Fortune 100 company in 1992,” says Kenneth’s daughter Nancy Akeson. “Although he had more money after the sale, he lost the support system of the firm’s employees who helped take care of his administrative tasks and household paperwork on a daily basis.”
There is rarely a shortage of help when it comes to how to invest your money when you’ve made a sizable amount of it, but what is often lacking is the more mundane advice and help around daily administrative tasks. “Every financial institution was sitting around at conference tables with beautifully-bound asset allocation books saying what we could do for you,” says Nancy. “But who was going to handle my father’s mail and bills? Who was going to handle the mundane tasks that need to be taken care of?”
That led Kenneth and business partner John Fahy to set up Total Personal Services, which is a business designed to help wealthy individuals and families to deal with the processing of mail and bills. “With respect to some of our bigger clients in terms of their wealth, we act as their true back office.” TPS has effectively become a back office family office for these clients.
Nancy says it’s not untypical for some of their clients to have up to 80 investment accounts and 25 checking accounts. “Things can get complicated,” she says. “And many families just don’t have the time to do all of their administrative tasks.” These tasks can involve anything from making sure subscriptions to newspapers get transferred to other addresses when families decamp to a second house for the summer to handling bill disbursements for the family.
Since it was founded, TPS has grown to employ 22 people from their headquarters in Garden City on Long Island, which is around 40 minutes from Manhattan. Clients come from across the US, but most are based in the Northeast, Florida and California, says Nancy.
One of the reasons for the growth has been the increasingly strict compliance rules around financial advisors about what they can do and can’t do, says Nancy. “The referral business from financial advisers is where most of our business comes from.” No doubt the swelling ranks of the super-rich, especially those with increasingly complicated lives, has also helped – and will continue to do so.