PCD Magazine article: The Big Interview with Crestbridge’s award winning CEO

20 June 2024
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PCD Magazine article: The Big Interview with Crestbridge’s award winning CEO

20 June 2024

Crestbridge Family Office Services CEO Heather Tibbo has helped grow the business into one of the industry’s most innovative and successful firms. A lawyer by training, Heather has featured in ePrivateclient’s 50 Most Influential List for five consecutive years and has been the recipient of a number of other prestigious awards and accolades. We recently met in London to discuss the sector’s latest trends, and what the future has in store for this thriving and dynamic enterprise.

Tell me a bit about what’s been happening in the business over the last year or so.

It’s been an exciting and extremely busy year for us. In 2023 New York-based Fund Services firm Gen II agreed to purchase the Crestbridge institutional business. With the acquisition now complete our private client business Crestbridge Family Office Services has maintained its status as a privately owned and independent provider, and we have ambitious plans for how we can continue to grow, both in scale and reputation. We have also been celebrating our ten-year anniversary, and we recently moved to new offices in the heart of St Helier.

In early 2020 you also launched Crestbridge Fiduciary with leading US Fiduciary Services provider Willow Street. How are things progressing across the Atlantic?

One of the many benefits of our independence and private ownership is our ability to respond quickly to trends we identify in the marketplace. We were one of the first in our sector to recognise the growing importance of the US as a destination of choice for international families, and our vision and values were a strong fit with those of Willow Street. The venture has gone from strength to strength, and is greatly helped by Willow Street’s Wyoming location, which offers a number of valuable jurisdictional advantages to our clients. It is notable that, since establishing Crestbridge Fiduciary, a number of others in the private client sector have followed suit. We were also pleased to have recently appointed industry professional Darrell King as Managing Director, Americas, based in New York.

You are always quick to recognise and praise your team when you receive industry awards and other accolades. Tell us about your team, and its culture.

Everything we accomplish is a team effort. Regardless of who is being recognised or awarded I try never to lose sight of that. We also work hard to maintain a structure and organisational culture that allows everyone to feel heard, valued, and empowered. We are extremely aware of the fact that the only way we can continue delivering the high standard of service and support that our clients have come to expect is to first ensure that we are looking after one another, and working together towards common goals. Our business is ultimately the sum of its people, and I strongly encourage our leadership team to make the employee experience a top strategic priority.

As a Channel Islands business the pool of available talent is obviously finite. How do you approach recruitment, and ensure that the culture of the firm is preserved?

Finding good people is certainly something upon which we focus a lot of our attention. We have worked hard to create and preserve a collaborative, supportive culture within the firm so recruitment is as much about fit as it is about experience and technical skill. The firm continues to grow strongly, and we have also recently implemented some organisational changes following the sale of the Crestbridge institutional business.

These included the strengthening of our senior central services team who, by providing a more robust layer of managerial support, are enabling our leadership team to be more focused ‘on’ the business – our clients and client service– rather than ‘in’ the business – its day-to-day functional management. The new roles cover areas including Risk and Compliance, Human Resources, and IT, and have allowed us to bring in a huge amount of industry experience and new expertise, and position ourselves strongly to scale our business in the coming years.

Which markets remain attractive for your growth?  Are there any other regions you are looking to develop? 

A key focus for us has always been and remains the Middle East. We visit frequently and are extremely committed to the region. We started building our presence in the Middle East 11 years ago because a colleague had strong connections there. I’m a firm believer in the importance of a clear and distinct value proposition, and we don’t try to be all things to all people.

We also want to continue growing our US business, and we’re seeing increased interest from Asia too. Singapore has a well-supplied market on its doorstep, however, despite it growing in sophistication it’s still quite nascent as a jurisdiction. Clients in the region are often interested in diversification, and a different approach, so will often contact us.

Finally, given the importance of intermediaries to our business, and with so many based in London, this is always a market we pay close attention to.

A critical and closely related consideration in this area is retention, which is only possible by investing in the team, actively managing training and career progression, and creating new development opportunities. We make a point of encouraging senior colleagues to share their experience and insights with others in the firm, whether through coaching, mentoring or through more informal, ad-hoc methods.

What’s your perception of the younger generations coming through today, and what skills do they need to succeed in the industry?

We have some outstanding young talent in the business and already I see many of them emerging as strong leaders of the future. I think Covid has had a significant impact on

many younger people, as it interrupted their careers at a critical point of development. I think the work that we do has value in helping younger people develop confidence and good interpersonal skills by working face to face with people. However, I think that’s where working from home can present certain challenges. Not only are we a highly collaborative team by nature, but as a high-touch service business so much of what we do is underpinned by earning and nurturing a client’s trust over time. That can only happen by being present and working on developing the right skills and a high level of emotional intelligence.