Princeton Portfolio Strategies Group (PPSG), a wealth and asset management firm, recently moved to a new office in Carnegie Center.
The company was formed in 2011 by six equal partners — William Hamill, Robert Hoffman, Carlton Savoye, Edward Grassi, and Suzanne Twitchell, and Todd Lincoln — who had previously worked together at Princeton Capital Management.
“We all collectively decided that we wanted to start our own firm,” said Lincoln, who is the partner in charge of marketing. “We looked at each other and said we enjoyed working together. At this stage of our careers it’s fun to be able to work with people who share similar visions and investment processes and who want to be client-centric in our services.”
The firm does not have a managing partner or a partner in charge, says Lincoln. Although they have considered the option, currently all decisions are made by committee.
Hamill, who holds a degree from the University of North Carolina and an MBA from the University of Michigan Business School, began his career as an investment advisor at Dresdner and Company. Prior to that he was chairman and CEO of Marion Manufacturing Company, director and member of the executive committee at Shaw Industries, and was chairman of Denby Associates.
Hoffman was a founding partner of Candlewood Capital Management where he was manager of diversified U.S. equity hedge fund portfolios. For most of the 1990s Hoffman led the growth and income team at Scudder Kemper Investments. He began his investment career as New Jersey assistant state treasurer for pensions and investment. Hoffman earned a degree in economics from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Northwestern University’s JL Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
Savoye was a portfolio manager/analyst at Davidson Capital Management, and before that at Glenmede Trust Company and Mellon Private Asset Management. He earned a degree in finance from San Francisco State University and an MBA from New York University.
Grassi, the firm’s manager of client relations, held a similar position with Princeton Capital Management. Before that he worked at Smith Barney and Legg Mason. Grassi is a graduate of Princeton University.
Twitchell, who is COO of PPSG, also worked in that position at Princeton Capital Management and at Candlewood Capital Management. Earlier in her career she was senior vice president at Scudder Kemper Investments. She also worked in the securities services division of Manufacturers Hanover Bank and in corporate finance for International Paper Company. She received her undergraduate degree from Smith College.
Last month PPSG announced new partner Alan Moucha, who was previously senior vice president and a member of Jamison, Eaton & Wood. Prior to that Mocha worked at U.S. Trust Company, Sturdivant & Company, the Investment Counsel Company of America, and North Carolina National Bank. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in finance and an MBA in finance and economics.
“We work with investors who are seeking a different approach to money management,” says Lincoln. That begins with a direct relationship with the analysts/portfolio managers actually doing the work.”
Lincoln grew up Palo Alto, CA. His father was a trust estate planning attorney in San Francisco and his mother was a stay-at-home mom who cared for Lincoln and his two brothers. He received a degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara where he majored in economics and communications.
Prior to co-founding PPSG, Lincoln managed high net worth and institutional clients at Princeton Capital Management, and Glenmede. He began his wealth management career at Merrill Lynch, where he was helped in the development of the firm’s advisory service for professional athletes and was responsible for managing client relationships.
“We’re offering something a little different than many of the other financial services firms are able to deliver,” Lincoln says. “Our plan is to stay small, in a boutique fashion, to have a direct relation and engagement between clients and people in the firm who are doing the work.”
He says they work with each client and use their input to pick the stocks, bonds, or securities for their portfolios. “We use a proprietary strategy for our clients, and we don’t use mutual funds. Each portfolio is managed separately. We go down the path of building separately managed programs. We get very involved in their objectives and develop a portfolio based on the objectives of the client.”
“Our approach begins with an opportunistic analytical process that facilitates identifying sound investment ideas no matter the investment climate,” Lincoln says. “In line with our goals and aspirations as a firm, our clients enjoy a direct relationship with the portfolio managers — a feature most firms can’t maintain because of size.”
According to Lincoln, some people have gone with the “Sam’s Club approach” with their investments, putting all of their money in one place. “But there are a lot of investors who are going back to boutique firms. We are attracting those types who want to use best of breed managers in specific niche offerings.”
PPSG also offers above and beyond what is offered by big investment firms like Fidelity and Vanguard. “What people are getting at those two shops is primarily what the market will bear at that time. They’re getting market-like returns. We are much more opportunistic in active management. A client or investor is going to get more of an engaged relationship.
The minimum investment amount at PPSG is about $250,000, and the firm has worked with people who have between $15 million to $20 million at the high end, says Lincoln. “We’re not a transaction-oriented firm. We’re looking to build relationships over the long haul, and we expect clients to stay with us between three and five years to go through a market cycle and evaluate our performance at that point. I figure if after five years you haven’t met someone’s expectations, you should fire them.”
Lincoln points out that the partners’ assets are also managed by PPSG. “The partners’ funds are not co-mingled but they’re in the same programs as the clients’. This means that the client and partners objectives are aligned.”
“The fact that we are in business to invest, not gather assets, means that our sole focus is on meeting the investment and service objectives of each of our clients,” says Twitchell.
Princeton Portfolio Strategies Group, 212 Carnegie Center, Suite 206, Princeton 08540; 609-436-5687; fax, 609-799-0852. www.princetonpsg.com.