Taking the Reins: An Interview with Chris Zander
Editor’s note: Chris Zander takes over at the start of 2020 as CEO of Evercore Wealth Management and Evercore Trust Company.
He is a founding partner and leads strategic wealth planning and trust and fiduciary services, working directly with clients across the United States. Chris was appointed President of Evercore Trust Company in 2017 and President of Evercore Wealth Management in 2019, as part of a long-term leadership succession plan. Prior to joining Evercore in 2008, Chris ran the Multi-Family Office at U.S. Trust.
Q: Chris, you’ve worked with Jeff Maurer for over 20 years, at both Evercore and U.S. Trust. How has that relationship informed your view on leadership?
A: I joined Jeff in establishing Evercore Wealth Management in part because I was confident in his ability to envision the ideal client wealth management experience and integrate that into a successful business model. This combined skill set is quite rare in our industry. Other executives may be outstanding in one of these areas, but few are effective at both. Also, his appreciation for – and knowledge of – the technical side of the business across investments, wealth planning and fiduciary matters, as well as his focus on transparency and high integrity-based relationships, has set an example that I hope to uphold in my new role.
Q: The firm has grown to one of the top Independent Registered Investment Advisors (Barron’s 2019) since inception in a crowded and competitive marketplace, largely through organic growth. Do you expect that pace to continue?
A: Yes. It is a competitive marketplace, with new entrants as well as formidable legacy competitors. But the key challenge in wealth management is to maintain an unrelenting focus on clients, something I believe we are better positioned to do than the big banks and brokerages and traditional trust companies, as we are relatively nimble and flexible in our approach. And we are better resourced, with Evercore’s backing, than smaller independent firms.
We built this firm to enable our people to always do the right thing by our clients. Great advisors attract and retain great clients, who are happy to refer our services. That’s how we’ve done so well to date and how we will continue to thrive.
Q: The Evercore Wealth Management client retention rate is about 97%, and that of partners and other senior professionals is about 95%. Why do you think these numbers are so strong?
A: Our culture is, I believe, the big draw for both our clients and our professionals. This is an environment that encourages individual thinking, and no one hesitates to speak up. We really welcome client engagement in our firm and take enormous pride in the success and advancement of our team.
Q: What are your top priorities in your new role?
A: Executing on our strategy and investing in our business. I am determined to continually find ways to develop our staff and improve our operations and processes to ensure that our teams of client-facing investment and wealth advisory professionals can be more proactive, communicate more effectively, and generally provide a better client experience. At the same time, we will continue to invest in first-rate talent acquisition and development, increasing our planning, investing, fiduciary and family office service capabilities to the benefit of our clients. We will also invest further in technology and communications, to anticipate and meet evolving client needs.
This is a rapidly changing marketplace, and I want to ensure that we stay in the vanguard of that change.
Q: You’ve had other leadership positions, as President of Evercore Wealth Management and Evercore Trust Company, as the head of the Multi-Family Office at U.S. Trust, and even as co-captain of the Columbia varsity baseball team. Any parallels that you could draw as a player and a coach with your new role at the firm?
A: There is no greater feeling than winning as a team. Individual accomplishments are nice, but they pale in comparison to working together and seeing the fruits of collective hard work, commitment and perseverance come together for the whole – whether as a coach, player or parent (as I’m more of a baseball dad these days than a player). To help people accomplish more than they thought they ever could do is incredibly rewarding.
We have a great team at Evercore Wealth Management and Evercore Trust Company, and it’s my job to help them do their best work, in meeting our clients’ goals, and in earning and sustaining their trust.
Chris Zander is the CEO of Evercore Wealth Management and Evercore Trust Company, effective January 2, 2020. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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