Thursday, August 14, 2008

Strategy notes: Family advisers shape investments

Think of it as Very Private Equity: Having given up on their banks, entrepreneurs who need funding beyond friends, family and their own credit cards immediately think of finding an Angel or VC. Less obvious are the gatekeepers known as family-office managers -- people like Nashville's Mike Vaden of Decosimo/Vaden. Decosimo/Vaden is the Roundabout-based partnership between The Vaden Group, which serves high net-worth entertainers, athletes and others, and Chattanooga-based Joseph Decosimo and Co. To varying degrees, Vaden told VNC, he is involved in the private financial affairs of more than 80 clients. Reviewing and screening equity-investment proposals is often part of the job. "My clients are bombarded with new investment ideas, because people think they have 'money to burn'," Vaden said. Well, in that context, Vaden sometimes plays fireman, dousing water on the impulse. At other times, Vaden's clients have him "shoot holes" in proposals, term sheets and other artifact, as warranted. Vaden's practice spans every conceivable personal and financial matter, from paying bills, auditing royalties, handling concert-tour accounting, representing one or both parties in financial aspects of divorces, intervening in family disputes, vetting college scholarships and managing tax returns -- or, helping sell businesses with only one or two owners. It's all done up-close and personal. Because they are trusted advisors to wealthy and very busy individuals and families, identifying gatekeepers like Vaden can sometime determine the fate of a venture. Vaden's profile is here.

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