85 Years and Thankful

BY RUSS HILL

Halbert Hargrove has passed yet another mile marker—85 years this time—and I’ve been asked to share a few reflections on the roads we’ve travelled since 1933.

Those of you who know me will know how much of a challenge it is to keep this brief. During the past 85 years, our industry has seen an endless succession of revolutions. Transformations in how financial information is gathered, communicated, and paid for; in federal rule-making regarding industry standards; in how client-facing brokers and advisors are compensated; in the myriad ways in which the major investment firms have made their profits—and that’s just the beginning. If you had the time and inclination, I could weave quite a story for you.*

Instead, I’d rather celebrate here how much the history of HH is one of persistently honoring the purpose and approach that John Halbert and Leonard Hargrove first set out in 1933. They began by investing their own wealth from Signal Hill oil leases and, later that decade, started taking on outside clients. Their byword was preserving wealth. Always, HH’s has been a client-focused, long-term outlook.

Being gladiators for our clients is nothing new. When we moved into the Landmark Square building in 1991, the firm’s trading and position diaries showed some existing customer accounts from the 1930s that were still holding the same durable blue-chip stocks. Of course we were continually monitoring holdings. But in an era when a brokerage firm’s income derived from trading, this reveals how HH was not in the practice of making trades unless they were called for.

Which leads our story to a signal point of HH’s history, one that I’m proud to have been part of: In 1989, we became a registered investment advisor, changing our core business to a fiduciary model. This move legally aligned our interests with yours, making it clear whom we’ve always been working for.

I’ll finish with considering the notion of longevity more generally. I started at HH in 1970: I’ll let you do the math. HH has been a significant part of my life. I confidently handed over the President’s role to JC Abusaid in 2010. As Chairman, I have more time to think and to pursue bigger-picture aspirations for our clients and our larger community. That’s the whole point of longevity, in my view. Enduring because we’re still making a difference for the people we’re working for and with, and because there’s still some magic in it.

We’re still here because we love and value what we’re doing—as well as being pretty darn good at it. I’m grateful to be sharing this journey alongside all of you.


In fact, a decade ago, I wrote a deeper history of HH in the context of the financial markets from 1933 to shortly after the housing market crash. READ THE STORY