Last updated: 19:24 / Wednesday, 7 May 2014
Steve Barimo & Andrew Mehalko

“Having Worked with a Giant Gave Us the Impetus to Establish AM Global”

“Having Worked with a Giant Gave Us the Impetus to Establish AM Global”

In late 2012, Steve Barimo and Andrew Mehalko established AM Global Family Investment Office, a firm which was born out of a common vision and many years’ experience in wealth management. Tired of managing a giant, they both opted for a type of company more in line with the client, hence the launch with their own capital to establish a family office.

Before taking this step, Barimo and Mehalko worked together for many years in GenSpring Family Offices where they both became part of its operating committee. They both participated in the growth of Genspring since the time when the company’s assets under management were of $ 400 million to the more than $23,000 million which Genspring had when they left the firm, which was founded in 1989 in Palm Beach (Florida).

These two former GenSpring executives have much more than just their professional careers in common. Although they didn’t see each other for the few years coinciding with their college years and the first few years of their working life, Barimo and Mehalko grew up together in a small neighborhood of Hialeah, a city south of Miami where 89% of the population speaks Spanish. They were neighbors and consider themselves as close as brothers. Mehalko, who was motherless, spent many hours in Barimo’s house after school, “especially at lunchtime” they both laughingly explained during an interview with Funds Society.

After an interval of a few years, Barimo and Mehalko met again in Genspring, where they worked together from 2001 to 2012. It was during their last years in Genspring when they began to toy with the idea of ​​going ahead with establishing their own company with a clear premise “to do things genuinely: an independent firm with superior and independent talent, which neither sells nor distributes”. And from there, AM Global Family Investment Office was born.

"At AM Global Family Investment Office, the client pays us for our help in figuring out the best way to realize their investments, and we guide them by the hand every step of the way,” says Steve, who stressed that in order to establish AM Global, they invested their own capital, so their investments are always aligned with their clients.

AM Global seeks to preserve client wealth and works to maintain a long term relationship. “We are building our own venture around enterprising people, customers who sold their businesses and find themselves with liquidity, so we want to be sure to maintain their wealth in the long term.”

Accordingly, both partners agree that the industry in which they operate is “very opaque”, something that is very difficult for many of the families with which they deal to understand. Therefore, AM Global charges an advisory fee to its customers instead of using the co-investment fees method.

“They know we're closely aligned with them. We are a client for all of them, which makes much more sense,” says Mehalko. The fact of having worked with large firms and having had the opportunity to experience firsthand the motivations that lead to sell a client a particular product and not another, served to gain  experience in his career. “At AM Global we do the opposite without any conflict of interests,” he added.

 “ The fee we charge our clients is not for the funds or compensations, it is strictly an advisory fee, this is simply a consultancy firm where there is no self interest and is directed only towards what is best for them,” said Barimo.

AM Global Family Investment Office, is aimed at ultra- high- net –worth- individuals (UHNWI), and currently has 12 client families and $ 230 million in assets under management. They are growing at an average of two new customers per quarter, most of them from the United States, even though there are two Latin American families in their portfolio. Along with the two founders, a team of eight people, which is also aided by external service providers, works in the company’s office, located in West Palm Beach (north of Miami).

AM Global is managed jointly by Steve Barimo, as co-founder and chief operating officer, and Mehalko, as founder and chief investment officer; likewise,  they are both in charge of all strategic decisions and operational investments.

Mehalko is very clear on how to build a first-class investment management family office. He believes that many of the complex needs which high net worth and multi generational ultrahighnet worth families have are underserved by traditional investment management firms. To Mehalko, AM Global embodies a sophisticated investment culture and advisory services, as well as a better investment experience for clients.