June 27, 2024
For Van Leeuwen & Company, Every Client is the Master Painter of their Financial Self-Portrait
Van Leeuwen emphasizes that long-term engagement with clients helps build trust, greatly benefiting both parties...

Johnathan Rickman | Blue Vault

Like many of its contemporaries in the financial services industry, Princeton, New Jersey-based wealth management firm Van Leeuwen & Company prides itself on helping clients develop tailored and tax-smart financial plans. But the company, founded in 1997 by Kenneth Van Leeuwen, likes to do things just a little bit differently.

Rather than develop a commonplace “client base,” the fiduciary, fee-only firm cultivates a “society” of members who commit to engage in continual financial or wealth management planning with the firm. Additionally, its clients don’t work exclusively with just one advisor. “There is no ‘your clients, my clients’ type of arrangement within the firm,” its founder says. “We all work with clients together.”

Van Leeuwen founded the firm after 18 years of working for several financial institutions, including 10 years as a certified financial planner — a role he relished and wanted to continue to pursue on his own. Many of his clients followed him to Van Leeuwen & Company, where he serves as Managing Director and Financial Advisor, and leads a small team of advisors and portfolio strategists.

The company’s clients are primarily senior-level corporate executives who receive — and seek help managing — stock compensation and other executive-level benefits. The firm’s client base largely consists of high-net-worth individuals with liquid assets of about $2.5 million, Van Leeuwen says. When factoring in real estate and other assets, their average client has a total net worth of between $5 and $7 million.

Van Leeuwen & Company has close to $400 million in brokerage and advisory assets serviced and held at LPL Financial as of June 2024 and has ambitious plans to grow that in the short term. “I’d like to be at $1 billion in five years, or to at least double that in that timeframe,” the firm’s founder says.

The Rembrandt Society

Van Leeuwen says the bulk of the company’s clients engage in continual financial or wealth management planning through its Rembrandt Society, a novel financial planning offering and generational planning concept. Named after the master painter and a nod to the firm founder’s Dutch name, the Rembrandt Society aims to help like-minded and similarly situated individuals “paint their life vision from a financial aspect,” Van Leeuwen says.

“A life vision doesn’t just necessarily represent money in the bank, it can also represent a client’s plans for retirement, their child’s education, or an aging parent,” Van Leeuwen adds. “We help people create what they want their financial life to look like.”

The Society has three annual fee levels — Gallery ($4,000), Museum ($8,000), and Private ($12,000) — that correspond to different service offerings and primary contacts at the firm.

“We don’t take clients seeking one-time advice,” Van Leeuwen says. “That’s not the client we’re looking for. A key objective of ours is to work with clients and their families through the generations.” Estate planning tends to play a big part in Society membership, he notes.

Van Leeuwen emphasizes that long-term engagement with clients helps build trust, greatly benefiting both parties: “Money is very personal. Clients share a lot of feelings with us that they probably don’t share with lots of other people.”

Alts and Blue Vault

As a firm, Van Leeuwen and Co. is relatively new to world of “alts,” having shied away from them after a few early bad experiences. The firm’s founder says they weren’t always able to square products’ marketing messages with real-world outcomes until they discovered Blue Vault.

“In the past, alternatives never seemed to work the way they were intended to at the retail level,” Van Leeuwen says. “Our industry really needs someone who can help us evaluate these instruments well. One of the interesting dynamics that Blue Vault is trying to achieve is to create a better playing field for alternatives — to make them easier to understand and create better client outcomes.”

Van Leeuwen and Company has slowly begun reincorporating alternative investments into its practice. In fact, its founder’s interest level in alts spiked after attending, and speaking at, Blue Vault’s Alts Summit in March. “We met some good participants at the conference, so we’re exploring the option of using more alts going forward,” Van Leeuwen says.

He notes that upon gaining more insight into alternatives through Blue Vault, the firm has begun working with a handful of sponsors and products including Alkeon Capital Management and Sealy & Company.

Learn more about Van Leeuwen & Company and consider joining them in becoming a Blue Vault member today!


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