NEW YORK – On September 28, the Hellenic American Association for Professionals in Finance (HABA) hosted the panel discussion on Families and Money: How to Sustain Wealth in Uncertain Times featuring Constantinos Grigoriadis- Chief Investment Officer, OBM Inc., and Chris Thomas- Managing Director, Massey Quick Simon & Co., moderated by James Hansel- Senior Vice President, Red Apple Group. The event took place at Wells Fargo Connections in Midtown Manhattan.
CEO and Co-Founder of CCTrack Solutions and HABA Vice President Robert Savage gave the welcoming remarks and then turned over the discussion to the moderator and the panelists.
Born in Athens, Greece, Grigoriadis graduated from Deree – The American College of Greece in 1990. He earned an MBA in International Finance from the Kogod School of Business, American University, Washington, DC. Grigoriadis started his career at the International Finance Corporation (IFC, member of the World Bank Group) as Chief Market Analyst, European Emerging Markets and then as Portfolio Manager, Pension Investments at the Treasury of the World Bank.
He established and managed Alpha Finance U.S. in New York, a boutique broker/dealer before joining U.S. Trust & Co. (Bank of America) as Senior VP responsible for European Family Offices. In addition, he established and managed two separate single family offices for ultra high-net-worth families before joining Societe Generale Bank & Trust, as Executive Director, Head of Ultra High-Net-Worth Individuals & Family Offices, Greece/Cyprus and the Middle East.
Thomas, a Managing Director of Massey Quick Simon, is involved in the firm’s new business development efforts. He joined Massey Quick Simon in 2015. Prior to joining Massey Quick Simon, Thomas was Senior Managing Director at Forefront Capital, a boutique investment advisory firm focused on creating alternative investment and specialized credit products for high net worth and family office investors. Thomas began his career as an analyst in Chemical Bank’s Strategic Planning Group. He graduated from New York University in 1984 with a BA in Political Science and Departmental Honors, and then after Chemical Bank went on to Columbia University’s School of International Affairs where he earned an MIA in International Banking and Finance. Thomas is also a faculty member at the New York Institute of Finance, where he teaches courses in Hedge Funds, Alternative Investments and Portfolio Management.
The discussion focused on family offices, firms that deal with asset management for wealthy individuals and families with a net worth of $100 million or more in assets. They also often provide services like managing household staff and making travel arrangements along with the traditional financial services and planning. Grigoriadis noted that trust and loyalty are important aspects in the business and you sometimes need a degree in psychology in this career path since different family members may have different priorities. Thomas said that the Rockefellers were the first with a family office at the turn of the last century to deal with their tremendous wealth, noting that John D. Rockefeller’s fortune was, at one point, 1-2% of the GDP (gross domestic product) of the United States. Though there are many more wealthy families today, none of them account for that much of the US economy.
Thomas also spoke about the fact that some clients will not follow advice. He said that about 20-25% of families have not done estate planning or tax planning, and one 78-year-old client has not done trust planning against the advice of all his team of advisors.
The panelists also discussed the differences between family offices working with families in the US and in Greece. Grigoriadis noted that in Greece there is perhaps more concern for wealth preservation and slightly less willingness to take risks while Thomas observed that there are regional differences in the US with variation in the concern for wealth preservation and the amount of risk families are willing to take.
A Q&A session followed the panel discussion. Among those present at the event were HABA Treasurer Emmanuel Caravanos, Costas Kellas, John Giapoutzis, Anna Sembos, James P. Gerkis, Nick Lionas, Kalliopi Tsakiroglou, many finance professionals, and members of the community.