Alan Zafran, Partner, Luminous Capital

Financial Services – Finalist

Alan Zafran walked away from significant economic incentives and a position on Merrill Lynch’s Advisory Council to Management to start Luminous Capital along with four colleagues in May 2008. Zafran, a partner at Luminous Capital, an investment advisory company, wanted transparency in all client handlings.

Rather than hide fees, missteps, errors and omissions, which are inevitable parts of conducting business, Luminous strives to engage the client as well as be held accountable for its actions — the good and the bad. This is truly distinctive in the financial services industry and serves as a testament to Zafran’s and Luminous’ high standards.

In early 2006, when Zafran and his four co-founders began to contemplate their breakaway from Merrill Lynch in order to create Luminous, there were an inordinate number of obstacles to overcome. There were legal constraints, employee needs and uncertainties relative to the viability of delivering an improved client experience as a start-up firm.

Moreover, the five co-founders had somewhat different views of what would be created as well as what would differentiate the new firm from other investment advisory providers.

Zafran proposed structuring a mission statement with his colleagues that would spell out an overriding set of operating principles for the firm. He broke down the challenges into a set of discrete action steps, prioritized their urgency and necessity, assigned tasks to those who felt strongly about specific business lines and developed a detailed plan of action to address and overcome these obstacles.

Zafran’s and his co-founders’ attention to detail, poise and esprit de corps were instrumental in solving these problems and solidifying the firm’s core value system of clients come first. That culture has differentiated the firm and has set it on a path of growth and prosperity.

How to reach: Luminous Capital,

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