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by Elaine ChavagnonThis article appeared on Nov. 4, 2013 in Family Wealth Report, and it was written by London based reporter Elaine Chavagnon, based on an interview she did with me last week.

Tiger 21, the peer-to-peer network for high net worth investors, is in expansion mode in Florida after unveiling a second group in Miami in September and currently preparing for the launch of a third in Palm Beach next month.

But besides tapping the expertise of wealthy individuals and families locally, the New York-headquartered organization is looking to deepen its footprint in the Sunshine State by drawing on the strong ties it has with Latin America, Charles Garcia, chair of the Florida group, told Family Wealth Report. 

One of the main factors linking Florida – which has for a while been regarded as a wealth management “hotspot” – to Latin America is the fact that 23 per cent of the state’s 19.3 million inhabitants are of Hispanic or Latino origin, compared to a US average of 16.9 per cent (source: 2012 US Census data). The US also exports 2.6 times as much to Latin America as it does to China, with the continent being Florida’s largest trading partner.

At the same time, some 15,000 Latin Americans are ultra-high net worth individuals representing at least $2.3 trillion in wealth, according to recent estimates. Indeed, last week Garcia met with Guillermo Romo, a Tiger 21 member in San Diego, CA, who is recommending Latin American individuals to Garcia he thinks would be good members.

“Romo confirmed that a lot of Mexican UHNW families are choosing Miami over Houston, TX, Dallas, TX, San Diego, CA, and Los Angeles, CA,” Garcia said.

And, in what Garcia views as an early sign that the economy in Florida is getting stronger – fueled in part by LatAm investors – the real estate market has improved considerably in recent time.

He said: “While in 2008/9 there were 68,000 empty apartments, all of that inventory has now gone and people are progressively building again. Some of that is because there are a lot of very wealthy Latin Americans – from countries like Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela – that have invested heavily into real estate in Miami.”

LatAm focus

Having recently added several new Miami members from Latin America, Garcia said he has now decided to open the doors to LatAm families. Tiger’s Miami group includes seven Hispanics, representing about 33 per cent of these individuals (these are not Latin Americans, but US citizens of Hispanic descent or “Hispanic Americans.”)

“If you talk to the large wealth managers in South Florida, some of them are 100 per cent managing wealth from LatAm families. Others are managing money from South Florida families mostly, while others have more of a national practice,” Garcia said.

“I’m starting to invite people from Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Peru; I have someone from Venezuela and the Caribbean. It gives us a better outlook as to what is going on in those countries,” he said. (Likewise, part of the reason Latin Americans want to join Tiger is because they want insights as to what’s going on in the US.)

However, the type of peer-to-peer experience offered by Tiger is “very unusual” for Latin Americans, Garcia said, as they’re culturally not as open about their finances as other members are perhaps used to.

“People often joke that everyone has three books: the book you show the government, the book you show your wife, and the book with the real numbers. Disclosing information to other Tiger members – even though it’s confidential – is very tough.”

Garcia added that he’s thinking of creating a Miami-based group comprised primarily of Latin Americans, or at least half Latin Americans and half US members. (The idea would be to have around six meetings in Miami, and then have about six in LatAm.)

“I’m also trying to recruit women, as there are some very prominent LatAm business women I’ve already spoken to whom I think would make excellent members,” he said.

About Tiger

By way of background, Tiger 21 is an acronym for The Investment Group for Enhanced Results in the 21st Century and its members collectively manage over $20 billion in total assets.

The organization has 225 members overall, 85 of which are based in New York; 40 in Canada (Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal), and then there are around 100 across Los Angeles, CA, San Francisco, CA, San Diego, CA, Miami, FL, Washington, DC, and Dallas, TX.

Members are typically entrepreneurs, chief executives, inventors and other senior executives with backgrounds in financial services, real estate, industrial and consumer goods, legal services, entertainment and medicine.

The groups meet monthly to share investment ideas and experiences on a range of wealth-related issues (Garcia said 50 per cent of the meetings are focused on investments and the other half are focused on business, personal or family issues). Members also have access to investment opportunities including private equity, real estate and hedge funds.

“I think it’s interesting that when people accumulate a lot of wealth, they have a certain feeling of isolation,” Garcia said.

“When you have sold a business, for example, you might have a lot of money, but that doesn’t necessarily make you a good investor. The same skills that made you a good business person actually can be counter-productive in terms of managing your wealth.”

Growth

Garcia believes that, in order for Tiger to grow, the organization needs to recruit strong chairs that know enough about the financial markets, how to facilitate meetings and, above all, how to recruit.

Even though most of Tiger’s growth comes from member referrals, a lot of time goes into bringing new members on board, with the ultimate decision resting in the hands of the group in question.

“There is interest in opening groups in Atlanta, GA, and Chicago, IL, but you need to find the right person first,” Garcia said.

“One of the things I’ve been doing is interfacing with money managers and talking to them about Tiger – I met one earlier this week and they have already made three referrals to me. They have to understand that Tiger doesn’t compete with them; an average Tiger member already has three wealth advisors.”

Garcia said he aims to take the number South Florida members from 21 to between 40 and 50 by the end of next year.

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TIGER 21 members focus not only on improving their investment acumen, but also on leveraging the power of their wealth and networks for philanthropy, business opportunities, estate planning, and raising socially responsible children.  TIGER 21’s success is built upon the willingness of members to share their best thinking, experience, curiosity, and vast networks with their fellow group members, as well as the entire TIGER 21 community.  If you are interested in being part of the TIGER 21 South Florida chapter please call Charles Garcia at 561-703-2631 or by email to Charles.Garcia@tiger21.com; if you live in another part of the country call Harley Frank, Director of Membership at (212) 584-0222 or Harley.Frank@tiger21.com.