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The Top 100 Family Influencers – Investors

Late last year, Family Capital sent out a survey to its readers asking them to nominate who they felt were the most influential individuals in the world of family enterprises. We were looking for a wide gambit of names from different backgrounds, both linked directly to family enterprises and those in an advisory role in the sector. We received more than 2000 responses. 

Through these responses and our own knowledge of the world of both family businesses and family office – indeed, the world of family capital – we were able to draw up a list of the Top 100 Influences. These are the individuals who our readers and Family Capital believe are the most influential people in the family enterprise world. No doubt some readers might think others merit inclusion and some on the list might not, but Family Capital believes the 100 names represent a pretty good cross-section of the Top Influencers in the sector. 

Given the length of the 100, we have broken them down into eight categories: Financiers; Businesses; Consultants; Academics; Lawyers; Executive Search; Fictional Characters; and Investors – which is our first group to feature in our twice-weekly series to run over the next month and a bit. 

The names are in alphabetical order.

INVESTORS

 

Johan Andresen

Owner of Ferd

Andresen is one of Norway’s most admired businessmen, not least because of his social media profile and his big following on Twitter, but also for his ethical stance on many business and societal issues. Andresen owns Ferd, a family investment office like few others. Very transparent, big on the social-side of investing, big on values, and big on assets under management and the number of staff it employs, Ferd is a role model for family offices across the globe. 

And it is very much of a single-family investment group, as Andresen told Family Capital a few years ago: “By taking in another family there will have to be a compromise of some sort. I’ve even said no to managing the funds of my siblings and my mother.”

From a storied family business dynasty in Norway, Andresen transformed the family business into a family investment group very successfully. In fact, how he did this along with his father in the 1990s is a good case study for any family business owners thinking of doing the same. As he told Family Capital: “In many cases, families elect to keep their core business and that remains their identity. The lesson here is that regardless of the ownership situation, you benefit greatly from having decided before a wall of money reaches you, under what vision and values you would like to reinvest it.”

 

Warren Buffett

CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has shown family businesses can achieve longevity by achieving a strong performance – and reaching out to their fans.

Buffett’s longevity is established on the back of returns of 20.3% a year since 1965, against 10% from the S&P 500. He achieved this by buying good businesses – many family-controlled – when the stock market wanted to sell. He supplied them with capital to reinforce their brands. He insisted his preferred holding period was forever – a classic evergreen family enterprise concept.

He outlined his thoughts in an entertaining preface to Berkshire’s annual report which soon developed a life of its own.  Capital at Berkshire’s disposal has spiralled due to its access to a float of $130 billion from its insurance business. A few mega-deals were less successful and Buffett failed to make the most of the tech boom, despite his friendship with Bill Gates. 

But a $100 billion bet on Apple, plus his folksy charm now offered through the archives of CNBC has preserved his unsurpassed reputation as a US corporate and investment icon, which has been partially built on a family business ethos of long termism. It should also be sufficient to guarantee his eldest son, Howard, the chairmanship of Berkshire when his father quits the scene – ensuring his legacy remains in good hands. 

 

Paul Carbone

President and Managing Partner of Pritzker Private Capital

Carbone knows a thing or two about family dynasties. He’s also pretty good with his deal-making and investing. Combine these skills and Carbone is the consummate investor in the family enterprise world. The president and managing partner of Chicago-based Pritzker Private Capital, Carbone has worked with members of the Pritzker family, one of America’s greatest family business dynasties, for more than eight years. 

Under his leadership at PPC, Carbone has built an impressive portfolio of mid-market companies in the manufacturing, services, and healthcare sectors. Along that path, he has always been very cognizant of the legacy for the businesses and their employees PPC works with. 

And that legacy is based on the best principles of family businesses – patience capital and stewardship. As he told Family Capital recently:  “The ability of a family business to focus on the long-term allows it to prioritize the most critical above the expedient. It is this same characteristic which makes family businesses most attractive to family capital providers.”

 

Andreas Jacobs

Board of Directors, Jacob Holding

So enthralled with the family business model and the importance of investing in them, Andreas Jacobs – who sits on the board of the Swiss-based Jacobs Holding, a big family investment/foundation group – has set up a number of funds to help family-owned Mitteland businesses in Germany. Jacobs is a well-known figure in the family enterprise world in Germany and Switzerland. 

He is also the son of the deceased billionaire Klaus Johann Jacobs, who revitalized a family business he inherited that specialized in coffee and chocolate production. Two years ago, Andreas led a consortium of investors, some with family business backgrounds, to buy the Swiss business of Berenberg Bank, Germany’s oldest family-owned bank. Those nominating him said Jacobs’ background and contacts, combined with his investment skills make him well placed to help revitalize the hugely important German family business sector.

 

 

Pascal Levensohn

Managing Partner of Levensohn Venture Partners

Levensohn might just be creating a family business dynasty on his own – given in recent years he’s set up a very successful vineyard and wine business with his wife, Melaine. But his reputation as an investor in the family enterprise sector stems from his many years working with dynastic family offices in their efforts to build venture portfolios, and in particular, with the Dolby and Hixon families. 

Levensohn brings expert knowledge to the many advantages, and pitfalls, of venture investing for family offices. And sometimes it’s not all about the money, as Levensohn told Family Capital earlier this year with reference to the work he did with Dolby and curing Alzheimer’s disease.  

“While we could ultimately lose money on a specific company, or not achieve an acceptable commercially driven risk-adjusted rate of return, we could still achieve the family’s objective in advancing the science,” Levensohn said. “We would consider our efforts a success. And that is a realistic way of deploying capital in a challenging field that the family office is passionate about supporting in a meaningful way.”

 

 

Asher Noor

Chief investment officer, AlTouq Group

Noor has been instrumental in building up one of Saudi Arabia’s most impressive family offices and along the way has become an ambassador for best practices in the world of family enterprises. Chief investment officer of the Riyadh-based AlTouq Group for more than 10 years, Noor has built a reputation as a shrewd investor for the family office, which is perhaps the best role model of many other family offices in the region. 

He has plied his trade alongside an impressive education in the world of family enterprises, gaining an MBA in 2016 from the French business school EDHEC with a focus on family businesses, as well as various qualifications in family business advising from the Family Firm Institute. 

 

Pierre & Pam Omidyar

Owners of Omidyar Network

The husband and wife team have created Omidyar Network, perhaps the most successful purpose-based investment group on the planet. Its reputation in the world of family capital led us to awarded Omidyar Network as Family Capital’s Investment Group of the Year in 2018. It’s obvious to see why they stand out with respect to their impact-led investments given the sheer breadth and depth of their investments across the world, but particularly in India. 

Their efforts in this area now mean Omidyar Network is often looked at as the benchmark for impact investing among other family/principal offices. Those nominating the Omidyars say the two through their investment group have influenced hugely the investment philosophy of many family offices, and have been particularly impactful among the investment ambitions of the next gen. 

 

Jacob Rothschild

President, RIT Capital Partners

One of the many scions of arguably the world’s greatest family business dynasty, Jacob Rothschild, 4thBaron Rothschild, took over RIT Capital Partners in 1971 when it was worth £5 million. Its net assets now total £3.1 billion on the back of annual returns of 12.2%. Rothschild built the business after turning his back on cousin Evelyn, and other family members, who were unwilling to support his growth plan for their bank. 

Rothschild’s determination to strike out on his own is an example to today’s nextgen who are increasingly keen to set up new ventures, away from their families. 

RIT’s performance has lagged the tech-heavy indices, but it only participated in 38% of market declines against 73% of its rises. Its 12.2% return since inception has trounced inflation, derived from its core portfolio and some punchy venture capital opportunities.

Aged 84, Jacob Rothschild, remains president of RIT. Daughter Hannah Rothschild joined the board in 2013 ensuring his continued legacy.   

 

Byron Trott

Chairman and CEO, BDT Capital Partners

Byron Trott has earned his reputation as an influencer by helping the most successful families in the world to achieve a commercial edge, without losing track of their ethos. 

When he was at Goldman Sachs, Trott worked with the Koch family, the Pritzkers and WalMart’s Waltons. Warren Buffett once said Trott was the only banker he trusted. Trott now runs BDT Capital Partners, which raised $9.1 billion for a third fund in May. 

One of its more active clients is JAB Holding Company, backed by the German Reimann family. In June, amid the pandemic, JAB floated global coffee shop chain JDE Peet’s, a big Starbuck competitor, partly down to Trott’s advice.

Trott believes in perseverance. He once said: “If there is a wall there, you are going to go through it.” He added that selling a family business was a “bad habit” because good ones are so very hard to find.  Those nominating him said Trott is the go-to person for billionaires looking to get creative with their investment portfolios, especially in the family enterprise world. 

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