April 2, 2024
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Lucia aquires West Coast Asset Management office, key staff


West Coast Asset Management co-founder Lance Helfert. (Bloomberg News photo)

West Coast Asset Management co-founder Lance Helfert. (Bloomberg News photo)

West Coast Asset Management, the alternative investment firm founded by Paul Orfalea and family member Lance Helfert, is merging with a San Diego-based money manager.

WCAM, based in Santa Barbara, said Oct. 21 that it was “entering into a strategic transaction” with Lucia Capital Group, which employs 70 people in 16 offices nationwide. In a statement, Lucia said it oversees approximately $2.3 billion in client assets.

Helfert said the merger allows WCAM to continue managing its clients accounts directly under the Lucia Capital banner. The combined company will continue to operate from West Coast Asset Management’s office on Coast Village Road in Montecito; Helfert and WCAM chief investment officer Atticus Lowe will be joined by the Lucia team.

“We are fortunate to have two highly skilled veterans of the high-net-worth space,” Joseph Lucia, president of the San Diego firm, said in a press release. “WCAM has a clear value proposition in the market and a strong history of offering elite asset management solutions.”

Founded in 2000, WCAM developed a value-oriented strategy for equity and fixed income investing. Lowe, a Westmont College graduate, was a key architect of the strategy.

Lucia had about $201 million in discretionary accounts and another $190 million in non-discretionary accounts at yearend 2013.

Lucia also oversaw about $1.67 billion in assets in traditional commission-based accounts, while its licensed insurance agents oversee about $194 million in annuity products.

Additionally, it operates a Multi-Strategy Growth & Income Fund that trades on the Nasdaq under the symbol MSFDX.

Orfalea, the founder of Kinko’s and a leading philanthropist in the region, has become a leading advocate for early childhood education and other social enterprises. He was part of a group that funded the acquisition of The Bank of Santa Barbara several years ago.

The private wealth management business in the region has seen its share of changes in the past few years. Investment giant Capital Group, based in Los Angeles, has been more active in looking for clients on the South Coast.

Wells Fargo and Union Bank, which acquired Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, have beefed up wealth management offerings and expanded staff.

City National Bank is opening a new branch on Coast Village Road to serve its existing client base in the music and entertainment industries, and Rabobank has been rolling out its own wealth-management strategy.