An Interview with William Hattink

December 25, 2016
 
For those who have recently achieved significant wealth, figuring out how to manage that wealth can be a daunting challenge. They likely want to have enough not only for themselves, but also for future generations of their family. This can be an equally intimidating task for those who have had wealth for a while, and are considering switching wealth managers but don’t know how. We had the opportunity to speak with William Hattink, CEO of GenSpring Family Offices, about what his firm offers the families it serves.

How do you describe GenSpring to people who haven’t heard of you?
GenSpring Family Offices is the ultra-high net worth arm of wealth management at SunTrust, and our primary goal is helping clients achieve peace of mind. We are a multi-family office that focuses on families that are looking for guidance—not only with investment management, but also with becoming effective stewards of their wealth. We think about family wealth as more than just numbers on a financial statement; it’s a measure of how prepared families are to preserve that wealth and function smoothly as a family.

What exactly is a multi-family office?
A multi-family office is essentially a wealth management firm that focuses on offering a much more comprehensive level of service to ultra-high net worth families. In our case, this means we help them not only with investment management, but also with things like family governance and education, philanthropic advisement, and document management.

How is working with these ultra-high net worth families different than working with typical wealth management clients?
Families with significant wealth have very complex lives. Not only because of all the complexity that comes along with owning a business, having multiple homes, or having large and diverse investment portfolios, but also because of the difficulty of managing wealth that has been spread across, say, 15 family members by the third generation.

What would you say is the biggest factor that enables you to help these families preserve their wealth?
Well beyond the obvious stuff—that is, that we have a small client-to-advisor ratio, highly experienced teams, and the objectivity and independence of a small wealth management firm while having the resources of a larger firm thanks to our relationship with SunTrust—I think the most important thing we do is focus on family governance and education. We provide financial education to the families of our clients, with the goal that they’re able to at the very least preserve the family wealth, and often become wealth creators themselves. We also help with governance, by assisting families in developing family rules and mission statements around their core, shared values and then we work with them to develop a plan for those values and for how to manage their wealth. We have the chance to work very closely with these families, to really understand what’s important to them, and that allows us to do a much better job in helping them reach the goals they want to achieve with their wealth.