How to Build Your Own Virtual Family Office feat. Jim Dew - Aspen Funds
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How to Build Your Own Virtual Family Office feat. Jim Dew

Join co-hosts Jim Maffuccio and Ben Fraser, along with special guest Jim Dew, Founder of Dew Wealth Management, as they dive into  the concepts of building a Virtual Family Office. After spending years studying the ultra-wealthy, Jim Dew realized Family Offices generally had staff, resources and strategies built around preserving and growing their family’s wealth. Jim decided to replicate their approach, but make it more accessible for the entrepreneur. Tune into today’s show to hear about Jim’s story and how he’s built his unique wealth management approach.

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Ben Fraser: Hello, Future Billionaires! Welcome back to another episode of the podcast. Today we have a really fun guest. His name is Jim Dew and he’s the founder of Dew Wealth Management. So he’s actually a financial advisor and he likes alternative investing. So this is a unique unicorn to find, but he’s a really cool approach.

His business is really focused on entrepreneurs. And helping them build what he calls a virtual family office to help grow and protect the wealth. But he has told us a lot of great tips, a lot of great things that he shares from working with a lot of ultra wealthy clients and even some billionaires that he’s rubbed shoulders with.

And so he shares a lot of things as just what they do, how they think about wealth, how they grow wealth, and just a really jam packed episode with lots of good tidbits. So you’re definitely gonna listen to this, and I think you’re gonna get a lot out of it. And as always, if you’re enjoying this podcast, we appreciate your feedback.

Rate and review on your favorite platform, and feel free to share with a friend. Thanks so much. This is the Invest like a Billionaire podcast, where we uncover the alternative investments and strategies that billionaires use to grow wealth. The tools and tactics you’ll learn from this podcast will make you a better investor and help you build legacy wealth. Join us as we dive into the world of alternative investments. Uncover strategies of the ultra wealthy, discuss economics and interview successful investors.

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We focus on macro driven alternative investments, so your portfolio is best positioned for this economic environment. Get started and download your free economic report today. 

Welcome back to the Invest Like a Billionaire podcast. I am a co-host Ben Frazier, joined by fellow co-host Jim Maffuccio, and we’re very excited to have as our guest today, Jim Dew of Dew Wealth Management.

And I’m really excited for this interview. So we’ve got to meet Jim outside of the podcast for a little while and just been really impressed with his business model and just really aligns with a lot of the values and the things we talk about on this podcast. Which is teaching people to invest like a billionaire, invest like the ultra wealthy.

And Jim has created a very unique wealth management practice focused on entrepreneurs and helping them build family offices around their businesses. And Jim, thanks so much for coming on the show. Super excited to, to dig into this 

Jim Dew: conversation. Thanks, Ben. Great to be here. Nice to see you Jim.

Good to see you. 

Ben Fraser: So let’s just start with your story, your background. Obviously you’ve been in this wealth management business for a long time, but your model is very unique and who you serve and how you serve them is very unique. And so I think it’s, it would be really cool to spend some time talking about your journey and your path and how you got to where you are.

Jim Dew: Yeah, absolutely. It is an interesting path and how we got to where we are. I was raised by two parents that grew up in the Great Depression. So my parents, their middle name was frugal. So I grew up without any nice things. I didn’t know kids that had nice things. I went to public schools and through that process I really didn’t care much about making money, which is funny that I’m in the money game today.

So when I was in college you might have heard it, they called the Harvard of the Southwest, university of Arizona. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that school. Oh yeah. Anyway, I was at U of A and studying mathematics with a minor in physics and went to a counselor cuz I didn’t know what I wanted to do.

And the counselor asked me what are your plans? And I said I don’t care about making money, I just wanna make a difference. So she likes the obvious choice. She said, you should be a teacher. So I became a public school math teacher. I did that for five years. Love the kids. I hated the system.

There are a lot of issues with public education. So I looked for something else I could do that involved numbers where I could make a difference. So I found financial services and then four years later I realized that’s a broken system too. It’s really run by brokerage firms, banks, and insurance companies.

So in 1999, I went home to my wife Mimi, who I know for sure Jim. Yep. I went home to my wife Mimi, and I complained about how it was a broken system and she shrugged her shoulders and said, Start your own business. And I said, wait a second. I don’t think you’re listening. I said, banks, insurance companies, brokers firms.

She said, I didn’t say it’d be easier to do it, but that’s the only way. You’re not gonna drive yourself crazy. And you have to understand that my wife, her family immigrated from Korea when she was five years old. Immigrants know the great thing about America starting a business.

And so that’s. Her go-to is to start a business if you don’t like the way something’s going. So we did, we started, our company in 1999 realized that we were entrepreneurs, so we decided we were gonna work with entrepreneurs like us. And then along the path, something interesting happened, and that was, as I was asking around when I thought I knew everything there was to know about helping entrepreneurs with their wealth.

Someone mentioned this thing called a family office, and I had never heard this before at the time. So I started asking around and I heard that, yeah, that’s what billionaires do. Billionaires create this family office. My definition, by the way, is when a billionaire will hire all the needed tax, legal, insurance, and investment professionals, all those attorneys and accountants as full-time employees working for that one billionaire.

So by chance, a guy I know really well, he has been a friend of mine now for 25 years, but I went to him and I was talking to him about this thing and he said you know what? A good friend of mine, his grandfather, I think he’s a billionaire. They’re extremely wealthy. They may have this family office thing.

So he connected me to this guy. We connected and hit it off. We’re about the same age. And he said, I’ll tell you what, you’re interested in this stuff. I’ll introduce you to the CEO of our family office. If you want to fly back to New York and spend time with him, he’ll spend time with you. But he said, you know what?

It’d be hard to get my grandpa to meet you, but you don’t. I don’t think you wanna meet my grandpa because he’s really not involved in the day-to-day anymore. I think you wanna understand this family office thing. I said Exactly. That’s what I want to do. So I flew to New York. Remember I had breakfast in Manhattan with this CEO of their family office.

And at the time I thought he was a really old guy. He was like 60, which today doesn’t seem, excuse me. Yeah, that doesn’t seem that old to me today, but at the time I thought that guy’s really old. But we What year 

Ben Fraser: Was this kind of practice? Was this early on? Was this a few years ago or? 

Jim Dew: No, this is probably.

I’d have to figure it out, but maybe 10 years ago, I’m guessing. Okay, cool. At any rate, so we, we hit it off and at the end of this three and a half hour breakfast, he said, if you wanna stay around for a few days, I’ll show you what we do and how we do it. I said, I would love to do that. So after spending some time with the family office, I’m on the flight coming home.

I’ve got all these notes, and I just remember thinking to myself, gosh, you know what? That’s not just the best structure for a billionaire. That’s really the best structure for any entrepreneur. There’s just one problem. You need something like 400 million to build and run one of these things. I mean that family office in New York, I think they have 47 CPAs just in their tax department.

So you can imagine, with these billionaires, with properties all over the world and all this kind of stuff, how complicated it can be. But if you just take 47 times what an average CPA might get paid, you can see where these numbers get outta control fast. But it’s worth it. It’s very valuable and that’s why Gates and Besos and Oprah Winfrey and Sarah Blakely.

They all have these family office structures. So I remember thinking I would like that. First of all, selfishly for me and Mimi, we don’t have $400 million, so I wonder if we could create a structure to get, call it a virtual family office to get similar results without that crazy expense and cost.

And so that’s what we set out to do and we’ve been refining that over the years. And really our advantage has been when we created this model, Mimi, and I would just ask ourselves, okay, we’re entrepreneurs, We know a lot about wealth management, how would we build it for ourselves? And so the magic to making it affordable, really, and I’ll give you the secret that we came up with, is every entrepreneur over their lifetime picks up an attorney, an accountant, an insurance agent, a banker.

They get all these professionals. And if you picture a wheel, those are like spokes on that wheel. But usually we call that the financial, the financial flat tire, because usually those professionals are not all A players. They’re usually not collaborating and talking to each other on a regular basis and no one’s holding them accountable.

And the worst part is the entrepreneur is in the hub right in the middle of that circle, managing that team. And sometimes tongue in cheek, I like to ask audiences. I like to say, who’s the annoying one in your family? And if you don’t, right away, know who that is. Guess what? It’s you and it’s, it actually is, in my case, in Jim’s case, it actually is Jim, but if you don’t know who that is, that’s you.

And if you don’t know who’s in the wheel in the middle of that wheel, it’s you. And my question is, should it really be you? Do you have the expertise, the time, the commitment to, to really stand on top of this and also to hold all these professionals accountable? So what we do is we vet their team. We keep everyone who’s good, we’ll keep ’em all, if they’re all good.

Then we get them to collaborate. We hold them accountable. In essence, we put ourselves in the middle of that wheel. So then the entrepreneur can be the visionary that sets the direction, but doesn’t have to be in the minutia of getting all those things done and coordinating the professionals. So that’s the magic of how we were able to do it for an affordable price.

And then things we’ve answered over the years, we said to ourselves, okay If we were on the other side of the table, we wouldn’t want a firm that’s building a virtual family office for us. We wouldn’t want them getting commissions or selling insurance or selling products. We want them to help us to make sure that if we need those products, they’re being designed properly.

Commissions are being disclosed and negotiated, like all those things are being done with us, but that they’re not benefiting if we buy insurance or don’t buy insurance. Also, we didn’t want to work with a firm. Where they’re trying to gather our assets. Because the model that’s probably most prevalent for wealth management firms is they want to gather the assets.

They charge you 1% fee for managing the portfolio. But the problem with that model, and there’s a lot of very smart, good people who run that model, is there’s a conflict of interest. Because if we have a client that says, Hey, should I pay off my building or should I give you the million dollars? For the u M model, right?

The assets under management model. That’s a conflict and that conflict’s gonna play out whenever you have conflicts of interest in that way. So we said, Hey, we’re not gonna be a firm that’s trying to gather the assets. We’re not gonna be a firm that gets paid. Not only commissions, but referral fees, kickbacks, revenue sharing.

A lot of wealth management firms get paid if they bring a private equity deal to the client. They get aiff. If they bring a tax strategy to the client, they get a spiff. If they bring an oil and gas right to the client, they get a spiff. And we wanna make sure that we are only looking for the best deals and the best opportunities.

For our clients based on what they need and that we’re not getting paid by anyone except directly by the entrepreneur. I know I’m rambling, but this is a passion of mine and that’s my start from school teacher to, to where we are today. So in a sense, 

Jim Maffuccio: You don’t have a horse in the race, but you own the racetrack.

You’re managing the track to make sure all the horses are running together in a sense. And so I just have a question for you. So you step into an existing organization. That has all of the, this flat tire cuz you know, you have all these, all the various spokes these professionals that are helping the person in the hub supposedly.

How frequently were, maybe this is a loaded question, but what would you say, just eye level, the percentage of times where you end up, let’s say within the first year, replacing some of those spokes or all of those spokes, is it. Is it pretty common that you’re actually able to herd these cats and get ’em all collaborating and working together?

Or do you end up having to convince the hub that they need to, they need a new attorney, new account, new insurance agent. 

Jim Dew: It’s case by case. So I’d say in most cases we don’t keep all the professionals. A year later, there’s one or two that we find that can be replaced with better professionals that serve that entrepreneur better.

I’d say it’s rare when we keep ’em all. It’s rare when we get rid of ’em all, it’s usually one to three that we have to replace, I would say. And then ongoing entrepreneurs outgrow their professionals and often either because of loyalty or cuz they just don’t realize it, they outgrow. So the CPA or accountant that helps them go from startup to a million dollars of revenue may not be the c P A, that can take him from a million dollars revenue to 30 or 40 or 50.

So sometimes they outgrow. Same thing with attorneys. Some attorneys can handle certain entity structures and then when you get too complex, you need a whole new level of legal expertise to help you as you grow. So there’s those reasons to replace professionals. It’s not always because they’re not great, but right.

There’s a lot of professionals that don’t do great work or aren’t responsive or aren’t easy to work with. It really could be any one of those things. And sometimes we have that heart to heart with the professional where we say, Hey, your work is great. You’re an amazing attorney, but when we ask you for something, you agree to get it to us.

And two weeks later we don’t have it. We asked again two weeks later, but we didn’t have it. That doesn’t work for us. And there are plenty of good attorneys that would take your seat. So we just need to know, are our expectations unreasonable? And if they’re not, how do we get you to deliver what we expect? If you can do it, just let us know and we’ll look for a different partner for our profession, for our me To the next question 

Jim Maffuccio: then, are you curating or just vetting or both these professionals when it’s obvious that one of these spokes needs to be replaced 

Jim Dew: how does that work?

Yeah, it’s a great question and it really is situation dependent. So we will vet professionals that the entrepreneurs bring us. So if they say, Hey I just talked to someone today, I need to replace my account. This is someone who’s, right now it’s, they’re not a client yet. They’re just starting the process.

But they told me right away on this intro, introductory call, I know I need to replace my account. My accountant can’t do the work that I need my accountant to do. So that person might say, Hey, I’ve got a suggestion from another friend of mine who’s in a similar situation. Yeah, let’s throw that name in the hat.

Maybe we know that professional. And then we’re also gonna go out and say, Hey, let’s bring a couple that we’ve worked with in the past and had good results with entrepreneurs. So it’s both sides. And then we’ve curated over time a list of what we feel are the best professionals in different areas.

And we actually have ratings of how we rank them. And we also have specifics about when they’re good, when they’re not so good, what states maybe they’re good in, if it’s a state specific problem and we’re me, that, that represents 

Jim Maffuccio: huge value. And you’re saying, and you don’t get referral fees for bringing these people on board.


Jim Dew: There’s perfect alignment there. We never take any fees from any professional if there’s an opportunity where they normally pay a wealth manager a fee. When we find that out, we just say, okay, credit that to the client however you can because we won’t take it. But since you’re used to paying it, we still want the client to benefit from that and not have you just make extra profit off of our client.

So that’s how we roll with that. And yeah, we’re constantly looking for new professionals now. I think we have clients in 40 states. We have advisors and. 13 states. So we’re getting a pretty broad reach as far as our network. And then the other thing is, once you know an amazing professional in one area, let’s say there’s just an incredible attorney in, I’ll try to pick somewhere in Des Moines and you say, Hey, we need a different kind of attorney in Des Moines for Iowa.

We go to that attorney who probably knows other good professionals, and then we take ’em through a vetting process. Which is very detailed about how we evaluate a professional that we haven’t worked with before. And then try to see if it’s a good fit. But a lot of times we can plug and play with professionals that we’ve had experience with in the past.

If not, we have our betting process and we’re also open to meeting more. And as I said, if they say, Hey, here’s a professional I heard is amazing. Great, we’ll put ’em through our process and interview ’em and see if they might be a good fit for you. Perfect. 

Ben Fraser: Yeah. Some of the things you said I think are really important to kinda emphasize because.

I think so many individuals, entrepreneurs, especially, that are building businesses and they’re having success. And as they’re filling in the gaps of where they need help on the personal side, they’re generally going through relationships, right? Or who do I know or who do I get a referral from?

And you’re hodgepodge, bolting on these, their relationships that maybe over time you outgrow. And we kinda had a situation, there was an accountant we had for a long period of time with some of our funds that we were running. And I’ve known him for 30 plus years, right?

Amazing, guy and all this kind of stuff. But we started noticing just they weren’t getting what we needed done and our funds kept growing and they couldn’t service it, the needs. And it’s really difficult to pull that plug and to switch. But even aside from that, it’s probably even harder to evaluate are they actually hitting the benchmarks that they should be hitting at this level, right?

Because. Entrepreneurs are experts at their businesses. They’re not experts at the value. What are the benchmarks for, a good CPA or benchmarks for a good trust attorney? And so being able to have some objectivity around some of those things and realize, am I getting the best, fit for where I’m at?

That’s the whole other side of it. 

Jim Dew: As you keep growing. Said, Ben. And just to give you, I’ll just give you five quick things. If you’re evaluating a professional, I’ll just give you five. And areas you should look at. So the first is the regulatory websites. Often I see people skip this step where they don’t do it.

They Google somebody, right? And I know an advisor, a financial advisor who got in trouble with his state and his state banned him from, canceled his license, revoked his license. So what did he do? He moved to another state and he set up shop there. And then he paid very smartly. What would you call it?

Google search person. What do they call that? PO expert or whatever yeah. To bury him on like page 12 or something where nobody goes to page 12. So if you went to the regulatory website, you would see everything. But most people would google a person like this. And page one, page two, page three, no one goes to page three or four.

Let alone page two is an often, so it’s not search edge 

Jim Maffuccio: optimization. It’s the optimization. That’s exactly right. 

Jim Dew: Yeah. It’s like, how can you make me invisible so that someone would have to go through 12 pages to find me, so yeah, so he did that. He set up his shop and everything else.

So the first thing is regulatory websites. So State Board of Accountancy for your accountant. The bar association in your state, your insurance department, your state insurance department for an insurance agent. So going to those different areas, the regulatory websites is the first thing to see if there’s a complaint history, to see what the records are, that’s really important.

Second, I would say education and credentials. What’s their history as far as education and credentials? Third would be their specialization cuz most entrepreneurs you really need more specialists than generalists. And a lot of times we’ll have entrepreneurs that have their attorney who does their.

Corporate work also does their estate plan. And in my experience, you need specialists in both those areas. They’re very niched. It’s like going to a doctor who says, oh, you have a brain tumor. Yeah, I know all about that. Plus I deliver babies and I’m in broken arms in my spare time. You go, I’m not going to that doctor.

So a specialty is really important. Experience, how long have they been doing what they’re doing is also another key attribute. And then finally, personality and follow through starts from the very moment you connect with that firm. So if they’re not at their front desk or through their intake, they’re not responsive, don’t expect they’re gonna be better when you become a client.

And then personality, I like to tell entrepreneurs, don’t make the mistake of having everyone on your team, people that you like, and people that you would have over for a barbecue because you want to have some healthy tension. In your team Now, you don’t want to have someone on the team where you say, I can never understand what this person’s saying.

I feel like I can never communicate with this. That’s a bad personality trait. But if it’s just this person isn’t really like me. The person, because you don’t wanna have a bunch of people like you surrounding you. You want people who think differently. You slow things down, who pump the brakes if you’re always on the accelerator, and then all those professionals.

We talk about a healthy balance between risk and opportunity. Sometimes you might have to push the CPA away from risk and toward opportunity. Sometimes you might have to push an insurance agent, they could go either direction, but you wanna make sure that you’re balancing that risk in a way that fits your personality and what you’re comfortable with.

Makes sense. Yeah, that 

Ben Fraser: ma makes a lot of sense. I’d like to shift a little bit cause I think what’s so unique about you, aside from everything you just said, which is obviously very unique in your model with just, more of a buy hour or retainer based model versus a U M model is also your approach to, in the investing side of things.

Obviously our podcast focused a lot on the investing side and a lot of advisors that we’ve worked with. But they fall into two camps. It seems like some that understand alternatives, understand there’s a place for them alternatives being private equity, real estate, venture capital, and then some that just have more of a, I’d say cookie cutter model where it’s just, Hey, it’s se 60 40, 70 30 stock bonds some low cost ETFs and we’ll put you into one of our models, aggressive, conservative or whatever.

So you’ve. Been exposed and have done a lot of work in the alternative space, which I think is very unique. Because it is more work. It is more difficult to evaluate and, but also overlaying the individual’s risk profile, their appetite. So talk about your perspective on alternatives when they make sense?

How do they fit in a portfolio, and Obviously there’s a certain probably net worth spectrum, right? As you increase your net worth, as we, we’ve studied the ultra wealthy, there’s generally bigger allocations into these types of investments, right? So talk a little bit about your perspective on that.

When does it make sense and 

Jim Dew: and those kinds of things. Yeah, it’s, yeah, it’s an important area to talk about and I agree. There’s kind of one faction of wealth managers that just feel like you have to throw your money in a 60-40 stock bond mix and you’re done. And then others will dabble more in alternatives.

And often, or at times, those philosophies are driven out of how they are paid and how they make money. I don’t wanna say that’s always the case but the truth is as your wealth grows, You need different investments to have true diversification as well as to get all the opportunities that are out there.

And as you grow your wealth, you also have access to more opportunities. When you’re not an accredited events investor versus when you are, that opens up a whole different universe of opportunities and risks as well. Cuz as you said, they’re harder to evaluate than an ETF or a mutual fund.

But they also have different opportunities that you don’t get in ETFs and mutual funds. As your wealth grows, I think it’s important to expand the universe of opportunities that you’re gonna look at, and then also to have a guiding structure or strategy to look at these different investments through.

And what I mean by that is the billionaires, what they do a very very good job at is their asset allocation. So they say, how much should we have in real estate? How much should we have in venture capital? How much should we have in it? Art or collect collectibles, and they have that pretty well thought out because that’s what drives their decision making.

Because if not, what I see from a lot of entrepreneurs we work with is they’re just flying around to whatever great idea they hear, and often it’s whoever their buddy is oh, their buddy brings ’em an idea. So then they go, oh yeah, that seems really interesting. I’ll throw money at this startup, or this VC deal, or this real estate deal, or this oil and gas deal.

And there’s not a really good thought process about where should my money be overall as a strategy and how much should alternatives be in that overall game plan. Because, for example, if you’re in real estate, and I remember just in the last few years I’ve met some entrepreneurs that said, Jim, I have real estate.

That’s all I love, and I love multifamily. It’s the best place to have your money. Okay, that’s interesting. But you have to decide, are you trying to get rich or stay rich? Because if you’re trying to dramatically grow your money, being concentrated actually can be an advantage concentrated in a business, concentrated in fewer assets or in investments.

However, there’s also more risk if that one thing goes wrong. And some of these entrepreneurs that I know I’ve talked to recently and now they’re struggling because cap rates have changed. They can’t cash out refis. They’re having trouble with variable rate loans. So now multifamily isn’t doing as well today as it was a couple years ago, and that’s fine.

But what I’m saying is if you’re investing to stay wealthy and you say, how much am I gonna have in real estate? But then within real estate, how much should be multifamily? How much should be single family homes, how much should be self-storage or RV parks? Slicing that up in smaller pieces so that you can know, because then if you say, Hey, I don’t have any self storage, and I like self storage.

Then you’re gonna start looking for self-storage and the stuff you look for, it’s no different than, when you’ve never had an orange car and you buy an orange car and then you start seeing all these orange cars. It is there, but now you’re focused on that. So all of a sudden you’re focused like, Hey, I’m gonna look for a self-storage deal.

And of course, you need to know what makes one self-storage deal better than another. And the same thing with oil and gas. And oil and gas has some tremendous tax benefits that are built right into the code and can have great income streams. So those kinds of things start to boil up to the surface, but having an overall game plan and knowing where and when and how they fit in, and then how are you gonna make the decisions.

Often, traditional financial advisors are not gonna have a lot of knowledge on oil and gas. And yet you need to make good decisions. So that’s why Yeah. I applaud what you guys are doing out there, creating an avenue for alternatives and for oil and gas that often, people don’t have, or some of the programs that we see have a lot of expensive fees and not great people who are running the program, and so we can talk about, how do you ev you evaluate alternatives and other investments like that. I love what 

Ben Fraser: you’re saying too, cuz so much of it is about what’s your strategy, right? What are you, what’s your goal? What are you trying to accomplish? And I think this is a little nugget that I just love. I heard you say this before, but to dramatically increase wealth concentration can be a benefit, right?

It can be a big amplifier, but also amplifies your risk massively. So if you’re in the early stages of your wealth building, first generation, you’re trying to become accredited. You probably wanna concentrate a little bit. Maybe you wanna start a business, maybe you want to, go all in on one thing to try and hit it big, and you can withstand some of those additional potential risks and losses, but, If you’re trying to preserve, you gotta diversify, right?

And it’s, age old idiom or just diversification, is pretty key. How do you see this kind of sh transition shift over time to, certain levels of wealth when investors kind of start thinking 

Jim Dew: differently about it? Clearly the more wealth you have, the more diversification you need to stay wealthy, and the more you need things like alternatives or should at least consider them.

If you’re an office manager and you have your 401k, You really, I don’t think you need to venture outside of traditional stocks and bonds, but as your wealth gets more substantial, then you’re missing opportunities by not taking a look at this. And one thing that I see when it comes to diversification that people, investors, make mistakes is, and this has been a mantra out there sometimes out in the world, is only invest in what you completely understand.

If you’re gonna be diversified, there’s no way you can invest in only the stuff that you completely understand. And I can tell you when I look at a billionaire allocation, there’s no way that billionaire knows about all those different areas. However, they know it’s important to spread the money around and they have people they trust who know those areas that they work with.

But you as the investor cannot know all these things. 

Jim Maffuccio: They earned the lowest on the totem pole. The lowest investment is. Getting your stock broker puts you in stock. How much do you really understand about stocks, sir? How much do you understand about price earnings ratios and what actually drives the value?

So it’s almost a defeated thesis from day one as only investment. I would say if you’re growing well, then you’re actively involved. Like we got started in the distressed debt world and we were very concentrated and I looked across the spectrum of opportunities that were everywhere within the residential real estate world.

I. We found what I believe was the sweetest place to stick the fork in and concentrate. But you know what? 10 years later , we’re having a difficult time finding a product. So we’ve moved into this other model where we’re harboring other people that have expertise, that are concentrating and growing well.

We’re growing right alongside of and bringing our investors along to the ride. And it’s just, it’s been, it really validates exactly what 

Jim Dew: you’re saying there. Now, if you’re all in like a business, someone starts a business and all their wealth is in that business, you better know that bus business inside and out.

So when you’re concentrating, you have to know everything that’s going on. But when you’re diversified, you can’t, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to be wise, and it doesn’t mean you don’t want to have trusted advisors who know those areas who can help you, cuz you definitely don’t want to just blindly say I’m not gonna understand this stuff, so I’ll just throw money left and right.

You do want people on your team, people who you can trust, people who understand these different investments. But the analogy I give is, if you ask me how all the aerodynamics of how a plane flies, I’m not gonna be able to explain that to you. But that doesn’t limit me from getting the use of an airplane.

I have trust in the pilots. I have trust in the maintenance people who are taking care of the engines. I can see the track record of how safe us anyway domestic, commercial jet travel is. And I don’t limit myself and say, I’m only gonna try if I completely understand how that mode of transportation works.

Then I would never travel because how am I getting used to it? I would never be able to flip the light switch on in my office and come to work. So I think being open to learning those areas and investing when you’re not 100%, I know this backwards and forwards how it works, but enough confidence where you know what to look for in a deal to make sure it makes sense and you understand how it fits into your overall portfolio.

Ben Fraser: Yeah. I think, go back to the strategy and the, what’s the. Primary aim or goal. And as you’re kinda maybe shifting to more of this diversification process, right? You’ve concentrated now you wanna shift your approach. And what I’ve found, I’ve talked about with the podcast before, is that a lot of people have just a sock drawer of investments, right?

They have a friend to set ’em a deal, all that looks cool. Invest in that one, or this one looks cool, I’ll invest in that one. And eventually they look back and get 20 K ones. I don’t remember what this deal is. And it, there’s no kind of singular.

Rationale behind it, and maybe you, all of a sudden you got huge concentration risks in this particular market, this particular asset class that you weren’t even aware of. So I think it’s important to have an overarching driving goal. And you, one thing you’ve said before is compelling focus.

And I love this concept. You talked a little about what you mean by compelling focus as a driver for. 

Jim Dew: For your vision of growing wealth. It’s one thing that billionaires do a really good job of. It’s like having a compelling focus and all of us, we have to push a lot in life. You have to grind, you have to work hard.

I still don’t know any magic way not to do that, to be successful, but you need something also that pulls you forward because if we’re constantly pushing and grinding, it gets exhausting and people can burn out. But if you have a compelling focus that pulls you forward, then that becomes something that.

That it makes life much easier. And then it also gives you better outcomes in the long term. So a story I like to tell is about my mom. So my mom passed away a few years ago, but she was a really important person in my life, extremely loving and caring and supportive. And I remember when I was a school teacher making 20 grand a year, I said to my wife, Mimi, I said, one day I’m gonna do something for my mom.

One day I’m gonna support her in a way that matters. And that vision, even though it wasn’t that detailed, and I love it, if you get a compelling vision that’s even more detailed. But that vision pulled me forward through a lot of times when I struggled or I was trying to figure things out.

And then fast forward, my mom was in her eighties and my wife Mimi and I were over at her town home one day, and I noticed the toilets weren’t clean, the floor wasn’t clean, and my mom always kept an immaculate house. And it just struck me that my mom was no longer physically able to do the work around the house.

So I sat with Mimi and said, Hey, why don’t we just hire a cleaning service to come in every two weeks? She said, yeah, no problem. So I went and sat my mom down. I said, mom, we’re gonna hire a cleaning service for you to come in. And she cried. My mom was not a crier. She was so moved that she cried. And it was one of the, one of my happiest moments of what I was able to do for my mom.

And then every two weeks she would call me, I’d pick up the phone, hi mom. And she would say, it’s Christmas today. I go, what are you talking about? And she’s the cleaning people here. So that was, I. That little thing that financially wasn’t a big deal to us was such a big deal to my mom. But I had that focus that one day I wanted to give back to my mom.

And the more specific you can make it, the more powerful, but that, that compelling focus to pull you forward through all those times, that’s what makes it easier and it also makes the journey more worthwhile. I love 

Ben Fraser: that. Could you give some other examples? I feel like you know so much Life, you just assume, Hey, I’m gonna be happier once I get to this number.

And if I could just get to this number, this income or this net worth, I’m gonna be, everything will be bad, great. And I’ll be figuring everything out. But so much of the time that bar the bar just keeps moving, right? It’s just always the next thing. And, what have you seen, what are some of your favorite, maybe compelling focuses or visions that you’ve seen from, of the ultra wealth that you’ve worked with?

Because eventually at a certain point, Hitting a certain number, it’s not gonna move the needle for you anymore. You’ve already living the lifestyle. You’re living. You can only take so much with you, to the grave and right pass onto the air. How, what are some of the things that you’ve seen that have been stuck out to you?

I’d love to hear some ideas 

Jim Dew: or thoughts on that. I’ll give you a few. I’ll give you one in process and I’ll give you a couple, a flavor of a couple things. So one is a current client of ours who’s the charity that they’re most concerned about is child trafficking. And they have, their compelling focus is when these kids get saved outta child trafficking, what happens next Because of this, they have this trauma that they have to deal with that could last years going forward to try to figure out, how do they live a normal life after being subjected to that.

So their compelling focus is they want to create a la, a ranch for these kids once they save these kids somewhere to go. Be around other kids who’ve had similar stories so that they can heal and do things, activities, and learn and grow in an environment where they don’t get just thrown back into normal society after what they’ve been through.

So that’s their compelling focus. So very powerful. I believe they’re gonna get there, but that’s much more motivational to them than, Hey, I want a Lamborghini and I want a third house. And. All those kinds of things are nice. And I’m not saying not to put that on your vision board or have those goals cuz they can drive you forward, but you’ll find out if you’re not there yet.

When you get there, you’re gonna be excited. The first day you have your Lamborghini and then a couple years later, it’s not gonna have that same feeling. And especially when you get your insurance bill or what it breaks down, you’re gonna realize why it may not be that much fun after all. But my point is that it’s a compelling focus.

Another one that I actually saw come to fruition. Is a client of mine who is into a children’s charity, and I’ll try to be as vague as possible because he did this. His goal was to do this anonymously. And a lot of people give anonymously, I’ll put in quotes, because they really want people to find out.

In fact, I was at an event one time where they said, and the anonymous donor of this was, and I thought I don’t think they. I think they needed a dictionary to understand the word anonymous so nobody knows this except the executive director of the charity and me who was working with the client. But he had this folks that he wanted to do great things for this children’s charity, and it turns out they fell on financial hard times, the charity did, and they needed a reset.

And so he financially single-handedly funded this charity for the next 20 years with one check. This is gonna serve, the charity serves about 500 kids a year, who are kids in very low socio socioeconomic areas. High risk kids make a tremendous difference in the lives of these children. So think of the ripple effect, serving 500 kids a year.

Those kids are gonna have kids. Those kids are gonna have kids. And the most amazing thing about it was this was such a pull for him and his spouse. It just moved them so much that this was always on their radar. But when it happened, and I sat down with him, and this is an interesting thing, I told him how much I admired what he was doing and the fact he didn’t want people to know about it.

And I was just praising him and giving him as much accolade as I could give him. And he said to me, and he was, this guy is not dishonest. And he also doesn’t, he doesn’t embrace false humidity, humility. He said, you know what, Jim? It’s really not that big a deal. I said, what do you mean it’s not big, that big a deal?

And he said here’s what I’m saying. I know what you mean and it’s gonna make this huge difference in the world, but here’s why it’s not that big a deal. I’ve come to a point of my success where doing this, I didn’t have to give less to my kids. I didn’t have to take a different vacation. I didn’t have to sell a house.

My life changes not one single bit because I’ve gotten to a point where I can achieve that vision and that goal and that compelling focus comes true. As I think about it, it’s not that big a sacrifice. And I thought, wow, that’s really interesting. But I can tell you that even though he doesn’t feel it’s a sacrifice, they talk about that charity every time I see them.

They know the contribution that they’ve made and nobody knows but me. So I’m like the only one other than the executive director that they can talk to about it, because nobody still knows that this went down. So there’s another one. And then the other one is a family where they wanted to create.

I would call a dynasty, which is wealth that goes on more than five generations, and they really took a lot of time creating these trust documents. An incentive trust though a kid has to earn a dollar to get a dollar out of a trust. Things like the kid wants to start a business, they have to go to a committee, they have to submit a marketing and a business plan.

If the kid wants to Change careers or do something different, buy a house. There’s all these provisions for how they get money and it’s all built on education, success, working and philanthropy. So there’s also a component where when they take a dollar out of the trust, they gotta give a dollar somewhere.

So they have thought in great detail about that. So that’s been a compelling focus that they’re not gonna be on this planet and they’ll be somewhere else in a better place, but they’re not gonna be here when that comes to fruition. But that’s, A compelling focus that has pulled them forward for years to know that their great-great-great grandchildren are gonna be benefiting not just from money, but with the way they’re gonna benefit from the money and the way it’s being procured and controlled and managed on their behalf.

I’d like to touch on 

Jim Maffuccio: a point that will dovetail nicely what you just said, because you’ve just painted some pictures of some people that had some relatively large vision and driving compelling. Vision that, as you say, pulls them forward. And, for one, people that don’t have wealth and there’s a, could be a poverty mentality that that person gave away, a billion dollars.

But that was no real sacrifice to them cuz it didn’t move the needle into their life. First of all, it’s just a fall ball to even go there. But what you don’t realize is that person, the sacrifice they made was the discipline of building a business. That could generate that kind of, people typically that have gotten to that point have taken some significant risks in their life.

I’ve been washed out twice significantly and started over again when I was 55 years old. Yeah. Now we’re coming into some wealth and having these kinds of conversations is meaningful. And then that moves me to, what I really wanted to say was for people that are out there for our audience that, you’re not, nobody’s where they want to be wealth wise, maybe, but the mistake that most of us make is looking for or engaging like the kinds of things that you’re coordinating, Jim.

First of all, I was gonna say outfits like yours, I don’t know that they exist but the different spokes they go with I went looking for these different spokes just a couple of years ago, and I’m way behind the curve. And so I tend to come from my very limited knowledge base or my peers who are pretty much where I’m at, on the wealth curve.

And I think one of the, one of the, in, in speaking with you personally prior to this podcast, one of the real values that, that you bring, That I really want people to hear is because you are connected to these people that are further down the trail than almost anybody that would come to you. So you’re looking at, they may be thinking here’s the level of C P I need right now.

You know what? You really don’t have to pay any more to get the CPA that Jim’s firm knows. That’s dealing with multi-billionaires as well as somebody. Know where you’re at. So it’s kinda like the old adage, like you become the average of the five people you hang around you’re only gonna get the level of professional service based on your existing network or the, your knowledge base.

And so tapping into your organization, you’re dealing with way bigger fish than I am. I have access to those people. If I choose to go that way or if you recommend that, for a client to go that way. So I think that’s huge is we tend to be more reactive in life rather than proactive.

And I’m going through the metamorphosis myself to be more looking down the road, even multi-generationally. And it, it does, it changes the way you make decisions and it changes the way you do your hiring and the 

Jim Dew: consultants that you work with. So I’d like to make one comment on this.

The compelling focus and some of the examples I gave are, very wealthy people. But as I said, my compelling focus was helping my mom and it wasn’t billions of dollars, it was just paying for a cleaning service every two weeks. So I would just encourage, if you’re listening to this, it doesn’t have to be a compelling focus that has some huge grand thing that they’re gonna cut ribbons and stuff like that.

It can be, it could be this, it could be your time. It could be, I’m gonna get to a point. With my investments so that I can take Fridays off and only work four days a week. And on that Friday I’m gonna go do volunteer work or charity work and help others, or I’m gonna spend time with my grandchildren or whatever.

It can be a compelling focus that doesn’t involve money or doesn’t involve a lot of money. It’s just one that moves you and pulls you forward. And then on the other comment that you men mentioned, Jim, when it comes to building these virtual family offices, once you’re making more than a million dollars of personal income between ebitda, if you have a company and personal.

Salary. If you’re paying yourself from your business, you should be able to outsource and have someone build that for you. And before then you have to be something we call the air traffic controller. And this is sometimes not very much fun, but this is paying attention to the different professionals.

This is spending time to evaluate and make sure that they are coordinating their efforts and that they are doing a good job. And that’s step one, cuz I always say that. Most entrepreneurs I meet, they’re either ostriches or jugglers. Ostriches who just say, Hey, I’ll just worry about it later. I’m focused on my business and my family jugglers who have all the balls in the air, and they’re dropping things left and right.

Moving from that next to the air traffic controller where you do have excellent professionals, you’re the one in charge of running that team, and then ultimately you have a firm run that team for you. That’s the progression. At IC for entrepreneurs going from, OS or juggler all the way up to virtual family office structure.

Yeah. The 

Jim Maffuccio: The problem is being an air traffic controller, like being a mediocre air traffic controller isn’t a really good thing. Cause I’ve had a few crashes and some people are, where’d that guy go? He is off, yeah. That’s a pretty wise way of putting it, Jim. It definitely would drive people to get through that stage pretty quickly.

Jim Dew: Yeah, it’s true. Yeah, it’s true. And I know a few air traffic controllers that are very good at it. Two of ’em are former tax attorneys that became business owners and they love it. They spend all their time doing it and they’re really into running their team of professionals. But in my experience, most entrepreneur business owners would rather increase the time they spend with their family, take more vacations, make more money, build their business faster, all those things make sense.

Ben Fraser: Jim, this has been really fun. Thank you so much for coming out and sharing some of these thoughts and what’s the best way for folks to kinda get ahold of you or kinda learn more about what you guys do if this is interesting to them? 

Jim Dew: Our website’s probably the easiest way.

It’s, so and can see what we’re doing there. And there’s also a way to see if you qualify to, to have a conversation with us.

Ben Fraser: Okay, perfect. Can you share just some of the bare minimum things that you’re looking for just so people know if it makes sense or not?

Jim Dew: Yeah. Owner, founder, entrepreneurs who have a million dollars profit from their business, or you could say EBITDA plus salary if they’re an escort, paying themselves, that million take home and above, or owner, founder, entrepreneurs, that’s where our work starts. Starts to make sense. Okay.

Ben Fraser: Awesome. Thanks again so much. This has been really fun, and hopefully, I’m sure our listeners got a lot of good stuff out of this. So appreciate you coming on.


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