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Tuesday, Jul 23, 2024

RIA Corient Makes a Big Name for Itself

NEWPORT CENTER — A wealth management firm catering to high- and ultra-high-net-worth clients is now part of a large-scale national firm that likes its business, and name.
Corient Capital Partners LLC, founded in 2015 by a group of former Merrill Lynch employees, has quickly built itself into a force in the registered investment advisory (RIA) industry in Newport Beach.

In 2022, Corient was acquired by CI Financial Corp. as part of its U.S. wealth expansion and was co-branded CI Corient Private Wealth. Last summer, CI embarked on an effort to rebrand its U.S. business away from the Canadian parent to better reflect the offering in the U.S.

Through a process that involved a naming firm, extensive focus groups with advisers, and a partner-wide vote, CI adopted a re-imagined “Corient” for the U.S. brand.

Today, Corient, which is based in Miami, manages more than $150 billion of client assets, inclusive of firms acquired by CI Financial.

Newport Center Presence

Corient’s Newport Beach office joins heavyweights like Pimco, which has $1.86 trillion in assets, Beacon Pointe, with $30 billion in assets, and Pacific Life, which has $199 billion in assets.

Bank of America, the biggest bank on the Business Journal’s list this week of largest commercial banks with operations in Orange County, also has its local operations here.

Newport Center, which surrounds the Fashion Island shopping center, has solidified its position as Orange County’s version of Wall Street.

“It’s the hub for the type of clients we have,” Corient Partner Darren Henderson said. “It’s hard to beat it. It is one of the top five financial centers on the West Coast.”

Bank Encroachment

Corient Capital Partners was founded by seven partners who decamped from Merrill Lynch, which was acquired in 2009 by Bank of America due to the financial crisis.

“We saw the bank encroaching more and more on our business,” Corient Partner Chris Copps said. “We wanted to be more flexible.”

Henderson added, “Clients are looking around in recent years and asking themselves, ‘Where am I going to get objective fee-based advice on my wealth management?’”

The independence meant the firm could offer clients a wider variety of products, even from prior rivals like Goldman Sachs and U.S. Trust.

Corient focused on clients who were already wealthy and were entrepreneurs.

“Our secret sauce was the referrals we got from existing clients,” Copps said.
Henderson added that “the vast majority of our clients are entrepreneurs or business owners—people who have faced the same challenges we faced when we first started out.”

“In my opinion, I don’t think there is another firm in Orange County that looks like Corient.”

Secondary Venture Markets

In addition to traditional investments, Corient has invested in alternatives like IPOs, private equity and secondary venture markets.

“Most of our clients come to us already wealthy,” Henderson said. “Our job is to help them protect and preserve their wealth and grow it at a reasonable rate. We’re not trying to hit home runs at each at bat.

We’re looking for strategies that could potentially weather all market environments. Diversification has proven to be the only thing that’s consistently worked.”

10K Clients

As of the end of 2023, Corient has 240 partners, 1,200 employees, 32 of which work locally, and manages the wealth of more than 10,000 clients.

Besides investments, the firm provides estate planning, family office services and wealth transfer services and it operates its own trust company.

“We’re serving some of the wealthiest families in the country,” Henderson said. “What we’re able to do since joining CI Financial’s re-imagined Corient is truly incredible.”

The Name Game

In 2020, CI Financial Corp., under the guidance of Chief Executive Kurt MacAlpine, began expanding into the U.S. by buying wealth managers.

CI Financial (TSX: CIX) is one of the largest wealth and asset management firms in Canada with nearly $330 billion in assets.

In 2022, CI acquired Corient Capital Partners LLC, a Newport Beach-based registered investment advisory (RIA).

“We believe Corient is an exceptional firm with a first-rate, highly dedicated team,” MacAlpine said in a 2022 statement announcing the acquisition.

The firm’s “deep relationships with their clients and commitment to their success have directly contributed to the firm’s tremendous growth,” he continued.

Corient Capital Partners was initially co-branded as CI Corient Private Wealth and joined approximately 30 other RIAs under the same naming and brand convention.

Last summer, CI embarked on rebranding their U.S. business away from the Canadian parent to better reflect the offering in the U.S.

After an exhaustive process, a re-imagined Corient, which is a play on “client” and “oriented,” was selected as the name of CI Financial’s national U.S. brand.

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.

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