Beatrice Advisors launches to serve millennial and Gen Z investors from diverse backgrounds

Christina Lewis, founder of Beatrice Advisors, at her home office with a portrait of her father, Reginald Lewis.

Cindy Johnson

Christina Lewis had her first asset allocation meeting with her wealth manager when she was 13.

“I remember the meeting well,” Lewis said. “It was a turbulent time for my family. And [the advisor] was the only one who had the information I needed and [knew] how to talk to me for this new world I was in.”

That new world involved a tragic loss and sudden inheritance. Her father, Reginald Lewis, the founder of the food giant TLC Beatrice International and the first African American to build a business with $1 billion in revenue, died at the age of 50 from a cerebral hemorrhage. Christina was left with a large fortune and few answers.

Over the next 30 years, Lewis would work with six different institutional wealth managers and 12 different relationship managers. Her experience and success in forming her own family office and running two foundations has led her to her new venture: a multifamily office aimed at the next generation, targeting people like herself.

“This is about families and their assets and how you think about them,” she said. “When you’re inclusive, when you look at diverse perspectives, when you empower women, when you empower your children, when you educate your clients, when you allow them authority and autonomy and independence, that’s a better way to live. Your family will be healthier, wealthier, happier and more functional.”

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Lewis’ company, called Beatrice Advisors, aims to change the traditional business of managing the fortunes of the wealthy and inheritors. With more than $84 trillion expected to be passed down from older to younger generations in the next 30 years, according to estimates from Cerulli Associates, a market research firm, Beatrice aims to be at the forefront of managing the wealth of inheritors.

Beatrice Advisors aims to make education and accessibility paramount since many young inheritors will be new to managing wealth, Lewis said. It will welcome a more diverse group of wealth-holders in terms of race, ethnicity and gender. And it will take a “holistic approach” to a family’s assets, considering not just their money but also their values, skills and life paths, Lewis said.

Since today’s younger generations are more tech-focused, the advisory firm has spent years building a high-tech dashboard that gives families an up-to-the-minute, unified view of their portfolio and assets.

“We build the dashboard and advise the clients, but they drive the car,” she said.

Multifamily offices like Beatrice combine the hyper-personalized and confidential approach of a single-family office — which manages the fortunes and logistics of one family — with the shared costs and resources of an investment firm.

In addition to managing investments, multifamily offices typically handle taxes, trusts, family governance, philanthropy and legal issues. A growing number of ultra-wealthy families are turning to multifamily offices for generational wealth transitions, given their expertise in family wealth dynamics and governance.

Lewis’ own personal investing education began when she was 7 years old, helping her father manage his stock portfolio. In addition to owning his own company, Reginald Lewis had a portfolio of personal stocks and designated Christina as his “broker.”

“I would read the stock tables in the newspaper in the morning,” she said, “And then at the end of the day, after market close, I would call to get the evening’s close. And I had this notebook where I tracked everything.”

After her father’s death, she worked with her first wealth manager to pick stocks and build an aggressive portfolio. Among her stock picks: Disney and Limited “because we talked about investing in what I know.”

Over the years, her wealth advisors were constantly churning: Firms got acquired and her relationship managers changed year by year. It was hard, she said, to find an asset manager “who sees you for you, not just an appendage of another entity.”

Eventually, she created a family office, BFO21, and hired her own team. Beatrice will be separate from BF021, but it will have team members in common and will share best practices, investments and expertise.

Meredith Bowen, a former partner at Seven Bridges Advisors who is now president and chief investment officer of Beatrice, said the advisory firm will put a high priority on tax efficiency and custom tax structures.

“We are really trying to create an investment infrastructure that is specific to an individual taxpayer’s picture,” Bowen said.

Beatrice will target clients with between $25 million and $300 million in net worth, although Bowen said that “the largest families will get a lot out of us.”

As an active philanthropist, Lewis founded All Star Code, a nonprofit organization that provides young men of color with basic web and coding skills. She also co-founded Giving Gap, formerly Give Blck, a searchable database of vetted, Black-founded nonprofits. She is also vice chair of the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation.

Lewis said that by making wealth advice accessible to a more diverse and young population, she hopes to help more families like her own.

“When I was looking at firms, I wanted that alignment with the values and style of the clients,” she said. “I feel like [Beatrice] will be diverse and inclusive from the get-go.”