Written by: Tricia Brouk, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Being able to support speakers in using their voices for impact is a privilege and I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mark to discuss why wealth management is more than just money.
Mark Fujiwara is a certified portfolio manager, certified exit planning advisor and director at Baird with 30 years of industry experience. He is the author of Superior Results: Maximizing the Value of Your Family Office Just Like the Super-Rich, forthcoming in early 2023 and a guest instructor at the Global School of Entrepreneurship for courses on family office and mergers and acquisitions.
Mark, you are in the business of wealth management and financial service.
What is the difference between a single-family office and multi-family office?
An effective family office is a group of expert professionals to deliver two major categories of expertise: wealth management and family support.
The primary difference between a single-family office and a multi-family office is that a single-family office is composed of professionals who exclusively work for one extremely wealthy who’s chief goal is to address the needs, wants, concerns, and preferences of the one family. A multi-family office consists of professionals who work for multiple families.
Single-family offices are ideal for maximizing wealth with the highest level of control, assurance of confidentiality and minimal if any conflicts of interest. However, to run an effective single-family office, the family must be willing to spend a large amount for hiring and retaining full-time, exclusive top professionals. Thus, a single-family office is usually suitable for families with net worths of over $250 million.
Multi-family offices are less costly and could have a big range of proficiencies since there are a lot more professionals to select. This is why it is imperative to have a consummate professional who could help not only lead your multi-family office but to be the one who selects the other professionals to have a fully functioning team.
How did you come to this work?
Two big turning points. When I was seven years old, my mother introduced me to the stock pages in the newspaper. With my love of math and a mom who made learning fun, I became quickly hooked. Invested in my first stock shortly after, the stock went up. It doubled in two years. My family owned a very large Chinese restaurant throughout my childhood. Again with my love of numbers and seeing money grow, I started to learn how a business was run and how a business made money. Just as I went off to university to become a portfolio manager, our restaurant was running on all cylinders, our key professional, my Uncle Park who was our chief growth officer, rainmaker, the one who brought in all the large banquets passed away. We did not have a succession plan nor did we have consummate professionals to properly plan and find solutions for the longevity of our restaurant and were forced to close our doors as I was graduating business school. With this heavily on my mind, I started in this business focussing on all the areas of wealth planning especially on risk and succession planning.
Your personal story of anxiety and mental health challenges has been a huge part of your calling in the perfect clients. Why is modeling for your clients so important?
My effectiveness in connecting and maximizing what I deliver to the client comes down to how deeply my clients share with me. There are two core ways I accomplish this which is to allow the client to speak 80% of the meeting AND to be completely open with my clients on my mental health struggles. The subject of charitable giving comes up in almost every preliminary meeting. I always ask what causes the client to feel strongly and why. The client will answer and then follow with the same reciprocating question about my causes. I will tell them about my big personal cause of mental health and some of the reasons why. My cousin dying of suicide at the age of 15 when I was a senior in college is an example. My struggles with depression, anxiety, and ADHD my entire life and hiding it because of the stigma around mental health is what I can share to connect us deeply. The client who hears this can fully relate, sometimes their own struggles and most often a close family member. They often reveal a bit more about themselves which always improves how I can help them even more. This also has drawn perfectly ideal clients and filtered out wrong character fit clients.
In order to rewire your brain, you decided to take on the 100 Days of Your Comfort Zone, mission if you will. Tell us a little about that and why you did this.
I had recently sat down with my business coach and realized that my growth in my business was literally non-existent in the past two years. My portfolio performance was subpar. Everything in my life was in a rut. I was just diagnosed with being on the verge of diabetes, low energy, still going through PTSD of my divorce, and feeling constantly anxious, depressed, and at times hopeless and suicidal. I needed to shake things up in my life, so through the inspiration of Ted Talk speaker, best-selling author, Jia Jiang who did 100 days in a row of rejection, I thought what I needed to do was 100 days outside of my comfort zone. I wrote out almost 200 ways to get uncomfortable and committed to do it every single day. From these 100 days, my portfolio performance skyrocketed, focussed on highest value to clients which resulted in a family office practice. Some other amazing outcomes, I met my wife by going out with someone ten years younger than me, qualified for the Boston Marathon, and also started sharing my struggles of mental health to others. This was the biggest one because I feel it is the reason I am here to tell this story.
And when you think about financial service and wealth management, how can your story of rewiring your brain help us to think differently about our wealth and the management of it?
In the wealth management industry, rewiring is seldom if ever done. The industry continues to make money, lots of money, so many do not see the value of making any changes, getting out of their comfort zone. First on the investment side, switching out of the same allocation models used by all of the advisors out there and modeling the super-rich, I have found investments that create a higher level of return with less risk. It takes work but that’s why our clients are paying us. Getting out of the comfort zone starts with asking how we can do this better. That’s where it started with my practice. Using what the single-family offices are doing and taking that down to the level of the non-billionaire client takes getting uncomfortable. However, with what I experienced with my 100 days of uncomfortable challenges, if we continue to go outside the comfort zone for the betterment of the industry, we can greatly achieve the highest value to our clients.
Tricia Brouk, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Tricia Brouk is an international award-winning director. She has worked in theater, film, and television for three decades. Tricia founded The Big Talk Academy where she certifies speakers in the art of public speaking. She was the executive producer of Speakers Who Dare and TEDxLincolnSquare and now The Big Talk Live. She is currently being featured in a new documentary called Big Stages, which highlights the transformation of her speakers. Tricia’s commitment and devotion to inclusion are a priority as all of her shows, events, and communities are diverse. She curates and hosts the Speaker Salon in NYC, The Big Talk, an award-winning podcast on iTunes and YouTube. The Influential Voice: Saying What You Mean for Lasting Legacy was a #1 New Release on Amazon in December 2020. She was awarded Top Director of 2019 by the International Association of Top Professionals and Top Ten Speaker Coaches in Yahoo Finance in 2021. Her documentaries have received critical acclaim—winning Best Documentary Short at The Olympus Film Festival and Los Angeles Movie Awards. Tricia has spoken at Forbes, Pride Global, New York Public Library, I Heart My Life Live, and The National Organization for Rare Disorders.