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Brian Gaister

Co-founder and CEO, Pennington Partners

Wanting to bring innovation to the family office space, Brian Gaister co-founded Pennington Partners in 2016. The Bethesda, Maryland-based firm now manages more than $1 billion in assets with a staff of 39.

Gaister, who earlier spent eight years at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, grew up in a family that owned several businesses, and he saw that families like his were struggling with the family offices and investment arrangements they had created.

“A lot of successful individuals are handling investments themselves or are using several advisers in an uncoordinated way or setting up subscale family offices,” he said. “Even for families with assets between $50 million and $500 million, the cost of building a family office infrastructure and team is very high.”

To better serve entrepreneurial families, his firm created a technology infrastructure that enables it to offer a menu of services: providing middle-office administrative support for families working on their own or with the help of their current financial adviser or advisers; serving as a complete family office; and providing access to private investment opportunities.

In addition to its formal services, the firm offers its clients a sense of community. “We’re focused on creating the intimacy we were looking for,” Gaister said.

Evan Cooper