By: Staff featuring JC Abusaid, CEO/President

Though he formally took the role of chief executive officer at Halbert Hargrove in December, JC Abusaid has been there for nearly every step of the firm’s growth since he joined 25 years ago. In the early years, he said, the model was simple: Pursue as much business as you can.

At one point, the firm was approached by a potential buyer; the principals decided not to go down that path, but it made them realize the potential value of what they were building—if they could grow the firm strategically.

“That triggered a strategic focus of, ‘I’m going to turn down this money, but we’d better build the firm correctly,’” he said.

In addition to its Long Beach, Calif. headquarters, the firm has added offices in San Diego and Denver, as well as Houston and The Woodlands in Texas. They have some 750 clients, with an average of more than $3 million in assets each.

While the firm has been able to hire new advisors to replace those that retire, Abusaid says finding the right talent remains the most difficult part of maintaining the growth trajectory. Hiring is more time consuming for a firm trying to instill a certain culture, as Halbert Hargrove does, he said.

“Everybody knows that developing people takes a lot more time than just hiring,” he said. “It’s not that simple if you’re trying to preserve the culture that we have.”

The firm began an internship program ten years ago, but over time it developed into an initiative where new hires work a minimum of six months to a year with the firm, with rotations to different areas of the business to ensure there are potential hires available to meet the demand in any particular area when it arises.

“We’re getting the hang of it, but that’s where the pressure is,” he said.

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