Meet Robert Balentine
Region: Atlanta, GA and Raleigh, NC
Industry: Financial Services/Wealth Management
Success with Vistage
- Sold Balentine & Company, his original firm with $4 billion of assets under management, to Wilmington Trust Corp. in 2002.
- Resigned as head of Wilmington Trust’s investment management business in 2009 to start Balentine LLC, which now has more than $3 billion under management.
- Named 2018’s Most Admired CEO by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
“Joining my Vistage group was like getting a continual MBA. I learn something new every month.”– Robert Balentine, Founding Partner and Chairman, Balentine LLC
Robert left a successful career on Wall Street to start Balentine & Company with his father in 1987. Two months later, his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. That following October, the market dropped 30 percent in two days. “My mom looked at my wife from across the table at Thanksgiving and said, ‘My Lord, what have they done?’” Robert says.
The elder Balentine fought the cancer until he died in 1995, leaving then-37-year-old Robert with the realization that he could no longer walk into his father’s office for advice. “We were 50/50 owners and exceedingly close,” he says. “I relied on him, and he relied on me. When I was introduced to Vistage, I understood that this was an opportunity for me to have a group to rely upon.”
Joining Vistage the previous year, Robert continued to grow the company, turning it into the largest independently-owned investment counseling firm in the Southeast, managing more than $4 billion. This drew the attention of larger companies, and in 2002, Robert sold the business to Wilmington Trust Corp. and lead its investment management business.
But then the 2008 financial crisis decimated Wilmington, and left Robert with a tough decision: stick it out or start over. “Having my group there to provide counsel and support as I thought through alternatives meant a lot,” he says.
In 2009, Robert resigned to establish Balentine LLC as an independent company. He broke even within two years and bought out his private-equity partner in 2015. Today, the company has over $3 billion under management, and Balentine was named one of Barron’s Top Independent Financial Advisors for 2018. “I knew starting over would be hard but had no doubt we’d be successful,” he says.
Recently, Robert transitioned to a Chairman role at Balentine, continuing to be actively involved in the company while promoting his chief investment officer to CEO and his head of relationship management to President. Both the CEO and President are Vistage members.
“It’s all about paying it forward and not being short-term greedy, investing in long-term relationships that will pay off in the end and making the employees the priority,” he says. “If you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of your clients, who ultimately will reward your shareholders.”