The soaring competition in the financial industry demands an innovative approach for consistent growth. Financial leaders are always thinking multiple steps ahead to spare no effort to offer services for their clients.
Peter Lee is one such leader who is recognized for building an unparalleled ecosystem of clients across some of the country’s top entrepreneurs, private equity / venture capital founders, professional athletes and entertainers. Peter is a Founding Partner of Summit Trail Advisors, and he and his team are defining a new category of the “Networked Family Office.”
We at Insights Success caught with Peter in our endeavor to find ‘The 10 Most Influential Leaders in Wealth Management, 2021.’ We talked to him to understand how his innovative strategies have created a client-centric approach.
Below are the highlights of the interview.
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at Summit Trail Advisors. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?
My journey, as do most journeys, took somewhat of a circuitous path as I began my college experience by accepting a football scholarship to play quarterback at the University of Wisconsin. After playing two years for the Badgers and winning a Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl Title in my second season, my quarterback coach left the program to go to the NFL. Following a rough spring football season adapting to a new system, I decided to transfer to Yale University, where I would study economics and play quarterback for their storied football program at Yale.
In my senior year at Yale, I had the amazing opportunity to study under David Swensen and his team at the Yale University Investment Office. This experience instilled in me a passion for investing and set my journey on a new course in the world of investments. Following my time at Yale, I wanted to learn more about finance and investing, so I came home to Chicago to pursue my MBA in Finance, Accounting and Marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Coming out of business school, I thought it would be exciting to take the playbook I learned from David and his team at the Yale Endowment and build a practice advising families who had created generation wealth that could be invested in a perpetual manner, like that of an endowment. Prior to founding Summit Trail in 2015, I led an eight-person investment management team in Barclays Wealth and Investment Management Group.
After continuous inquiries from some of our most significant clients at Barclays to come over and just work for their family and sit on their side of the table, five partners and I decided to launch Summit Trail Advisors. We initially launched the firm across three cities (Chicago, New York, and San Francisco) with roughly $3 Billion in assets. Today we manage assets of $13 Billion across six offices throughout the country.
Tell us something more about your company and its mission and vision.
Summit Trail is a leading Networked Family Office – intentionally designed for those who have outgrown traditional wealth managers and desire the outcomes of a more dynamic approach. We are a partner-owned and operated firm that provides investment advisory and family office services to ultra-high net worth individuals, family offices, and non-profit institutions while leveraging the power of our network for the benefit of our clients.
Summit Trail sources differentiated investment opportunities and other professional services for our clients on an open architecture basis, working to drive pricing power for clients and attract the industry’s top talent.
We leverage our distinct vantage point as a Networked Family Office to build generational relationships with our clients so they can realize the full potential of their significant wealth.
Enlighten us on how you have made an impact in the Investment Management niche through your expertise in the market?
I had a unique experience at such a young age to, in a sense, learn the investment management business backwards in the time I spent at the Yale Endowment. What I mean by that is I learned a ton about alternative asset classes such as private equity, venture capital, hedge funds, and real assets before I really knew anything about more traditional investments, such as stocks and bonds. With this backdrop, we have built a firm that focuses on taking advantage of private market opportunities and extracting an illiquidity premium whenever possible for families who do not need daily liquidity across their entire portfolio.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.
Summit Trail’s core values of partnership, integrity, excellence, and passion are lived and demonstrated by our team members every day. We aspire to shared success in our relationships with our clients, our external colleagues, and each other. We operate with high ethical standards and put honesty and transparency at the forefront of our actions.
We continually evolve to exceed the expectations of our clients and ourselves. And we believe passion is contagious; it attracts others who share the same motivation and inspires impactful results. Our company’s culture prioritizes people, and we ensure that work is fun and stimulating while we provide our clients with a connected, elevated approach to managing their wealth.
Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?
Summit Trail has embraced and will continue to invest in both current and substantial technological advancements for the benefit of our clients and firm. The operational and purpose-built technology infrastructure we have allows us to aggregate, evaluate, and communicate on all aspects of our clients’ financial lives, doing so with the highest degree of safety and security. The consolidated financial reporting and digital planning documents we provide our clients enable informed decision making and a clear understanding of their comprehensive financial picture.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for Summit Trail Advisors?
We are endeavoring to become the preeminent Networked Family Office in the country by continuing to enhance the power of our ecosystem in partnership with our clients.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the Investment Management sector?
First and foremost, I would borrow Nike’s tagline and tell them to, “Just Do It!” Not a day goes by where I’m not thankful for our decision to become fellow entrepreneurs and build this firm in partnership with our clients. To balance that first piece of advice, I would stress the incredible amount of planning and organization that must happen before one takes the leap to become an entrepreneur, and I cannot emphasize enough the need for preparation prior to launching a firm.
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