WrapManager, which recently opened at 319 Miller, was created by Mill Valley resident Gabe Burczyk in 1999. It’s an innovative financial services firm that seeks to “bring benefits of investing with money managers to a broader group of investors” via data, transparency and service, and has exploded over the years, with WrapManager’s 45 money managers managing up to $500 billion in assets.
But while Burczyk has plenty to say about the business, its model and arc toward success, it’s the company’s journey to Mill Valley that really seems to get his blood flowing.
“I don’t want to be the non-existent dad and I really want to become a greater part of the community here,” he says. “We have a 100 percent cloud-based company. We could be anywhere. So now we’re here in Mill Valley, and I’m thrilled.”
But Burczyk isn’t just renting some office space in town to give himself the option of working in town on occasion. He bought the 5,000-square-foot building at 319 Miller, spent much of the past year-plus renovating it and completely relocated his entire company from its offices on Market Street in San Francisco. The opportunity to use some of that space to have local organizations host events excites him.
“We really want to have an impact here,” he says.
So, about that business.
Burczyk, who was born in raised in Crown Point, Indiana – famously the home of Depression-era gangster John Dillinger – got his start in the financial services business in the mid-1980s at an investment banking firm in Clearwater, Florida. He then moved onto a wirehouse with Prudential Securities in downtown San Francisco.
Over the years in the industry, Burczyk learned about individual money managers, those who appeal to online investors seeking a middle ground between professional advice without the hand-holding that comes with a financial planner or full-service broker. Those investors “also want greater diversification at lower cost than they can get from buying individual stocks, plus more flexibility than is possible with one-size-fits-all mutual funds,” according to Business Week magazine.
A friend introduced Burczyk to a money manager to handle his own personal assets, and although “it was a challenge to lighten my grip on my own personal financial decisions, after one year of micro-managing this money manager, I relaxed. The real reward was that I got my life back. I didn’t have to manage my own money.”
Burczyk saw a way to innovate by creating a company that essentially hired, fired and managed a group of money managers to “truly be a fiduciary for the client,” he says.
He called the firm WrapManager for two reasons, one literal and one, as Burczyk says, a bit “corny.” In the industry, managed or separate accounts, those that are similar to mutual funds, but aren’t pooled investments, are also called “wrap accounts.”
“I prefer the human meaning of the word,” Burczyk says. “For me, “wrap” conjures up images of holding, nurturing and helping a person. That’s what we do. We help people understand the power of having a plan that virtually wraps around the realities of their entire lives.”
“We select money managers for them,” he continues. “We track progress — not just of the plan and investments but of the people it’s designed for… your spouse, your children your favorite adventure. We wrap the unique aspects of a person’s life into one wealth management strategy that breathes and adapts to life as it changes.”
It did not take long for WrapManager’s concept to catch on, and the growth has been a constant ever since. A Wall Street Journal story that mentioned the business in 2000 provided a jolt of momentum, as did the aforementioned Business Week magazine piece a year later.
“We created a convenient way to get our clients information that they hadn’t had access to previously,” Burczyk says. “People hear about a money manager and read about it but there’s no place to do the research. We give that as a service. It’s so different than anything else that’s out there.”
While Burczyk’s team has to get used to new commutes and a new daytime neighborhood, one thing isn’t changing: the office closes at 4pm.
“We all want to spend quality time with each other and our families,” he says. “That’s what this is about.”