The financial pros on the 2019 Business Managers Elite list handle the affairs and manage the wealth of Hollywood.
Principal and Business Manager, Abacus Financial Business Management
Anakwenze handles film and TV actors, writers and producers; digital influencers; and executives in events and concerts. Clients include Jay Ellis (HBO’s “Insecure” and Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick”) and “ET” co-host Kevin Frazier. Los Angeles-based Anakwenze finds that talent needs to produce audio/visual demos to sell their projects to “put some skin in the game so buyers can see the vision.”
Transparency Revolution: Because of personal communications devices, Anakwenze says that “anything we’re doing the clients can see very clearly and immediately.”
Evan R. Bell & Liza De Leon
Evan R. Bell
Managing Partner, Bell & Co.
Liza De Leon
Administrative Partner, Bell & Co.
The New York-based duo handles TV, film and literary talent, and influencers. Clients include Steven Soderbergh, author Sarah M. Broom, writer-director Robert Eggers, Baz Luhrmann, and multi-hyphenate Gavin O’Connor. Because early-career clients are concerned about their financial futures, Bell observes that they “are much more interested in buying a house than a big wedding or fancy car.”
Taxing Matters: Bell notes clients are worried about proposals to enact substantial tax increases, and are exploring options to protect the wealth that “they’ve spent their lives earning, building and driving for.”
Partner, Bills & Stoll
With a staff of 25, the Encino-based business management firm serves clients that include TV/film talent, and Bills is one of two partners. He keeps an eye on continued eligibility of talent loan-out corporations after California legislation tightened independent-contractor rules. “Everyone who has one knows what the legitimate benefit are” for writing off business expenses, Bills says.
Hit The Jackpot: Bills generally tries to dissuade clients from pursuing personal passion investments, like partnering in a restaurant, because they are longshots. One client did so anyway “and, wouldn’t you know, it became one of the most popular new restaurants in L.A.,” he marvels.
Bolno handles executive Scooter Braun/Ithaca Holdings, and a raft of music figures including Drake, Post Malone, Pharrell Williams and Will.i.am. Other clients are in TV/film and also investors in media/entertainment. Bolno is thrilled music industry economics improved from proliferation of streaming, quality music and renewed investment. “The hope is money continues to flow to the artists and creators.”
Cashing In: Bolno likes real estate, and always recommends buying prudently to avoid shouldering excessive debt. “If you are sitting on cash when the real estate markets softens, you are in a great position” to buy, he says. “Cash is king.”
Partner, Altman Greenfield & Selvaggi
While many entertainment business managers are based in L.A., some, like Bonsignore, feel they’ve got a leg up in New York, operating at the center of the global financial markets. Bonsignore prides himself on being accessible 24-7 for his clients — including Noah Baumbach, Sterling K. Brown, Greta Gerwig, David Harbour, Dakota Johnson, John McEnroe and Chris Terrio — and taking their calls on weekends.
Will California Law Limiting Indie Contractors Hurt Hollywood?: “I feel unions will step in and fight for their members. Otherwise, California is going to lose a lot of production.”
Julie Boos, David Boyer, Jamie Cheek, Duane Clark, Trey Dunaway, Mary Ann McCready, Carmen Romano
Chairman-Owner, Flood Bumstead McCready & McCarthy
David Boyer, Mary Ann McCready, Carmen Romano
VP-Owners, Flood Bumstead McCready & McCarthy
President-Owner, Flood Bumstead McCready & McCarthy
COO-Owner, Flood Bumstead McCready & McCarthy
CFO-Owner, Flood Bumstead McCready & McCarthy
The seven business managers serve music talent and executives. Clients are said to include The Black Keys, Kelly Clarkson, Eric Church, Dan + Shay, Alanis Morissette, Blake Shelton and Keith Urban. FBMM is headquartered in Nashville, with a New York office as well. Honored for her charitable work, McCready was Variety’s 2018 Business Manager Elite Award honoree. After ticket scalpers upended concert ticketing, Cheek says that stakeholders are wrestling back control. Promoters, facilities and artists marshal “creativity and technology so ticketing is becoming much more user-friendly to the artists than I’ve ever seen. That’s very cool.”
Island Dream: McCready worked six months buying an offshore island for a client that was quite complex. “But it was fun, like putting pieces of a puzzle together. I like to be challenged.”
Chris Bucci, Steve Savitsky, Jeff Bacon, Rachel Martinez, Vera Singartiyska, Gary Satin
Chris Bucci & Steve Savitsky
Managing Partners, Savitsky Satin Bacon & Bucci
Jeff Bacon, Rachel Martinez, Vera Singartiyska, Gary Satin
Partners, Savitsky Satin Bacon & Bucci
When he joined seven years ago, Bucci recalls he was employee number 35; now the Century City-based operation includes about 60 staffers. Clients are film and TV producers, writers, directors, actors and executives; professional athletes; digital influencers; and the wealthy outside entertainment. “Now the practice is much wider in terms of what the clients do,” says Bucci, referring to influencers and others. In September, SSBB was acquired by insurance broker/consultancy NFP, which Bucci says enables drawing on the parent’s deeper resources for improved technology and other benefits.
Just In Case: Bacon notes that business managers prepare for any likely eventuality, though sometimes this results in spinning their wheels. “Many of us spent much of the last two months of 2011 scrambling to execute planning strategies ahead of an anticipated estate tax law change that never materialized,” says Bacon.
Matthew A. Burke
Managing Partner, Singer Burke Zimmer
Based in Encino, Burke supervises a staff of 55 that handles behind-the-camera TV talent. Many clients diversify, where “creators exploit their intellectual property on new distribution platforms and across multiple verticals.” He handles content producer Skybound Entertainment. His clients work on TV series including “Arrow,” “Black Lightning,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” and “The Walking Dead.”
Paperless World: Digital native clients “want 24/7 access to all their info online on their smart phones,” says Burke.
Partner, Level Four Business Management
Clancy began his career at Price Waterhouse almost 35 years ago, but he found he didn’t care for public accounting and was soon hired away by John Rigney at Jess Morgan & Co. Rigney left the following year, but they later reunited at Level Four, where today Clancy’s clients include writers and directors such as Chris Miller and Phil Lord, who won an Oscar this year for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” as well as actors and several authors.
Real Estate Cool-Off?: “Yes, because I’m not getting calls from housekeepers who want to buy a three-quarter-million-dollar house like I was a dozen years ago.”
Ken Coelho, Jason Zayon, Sam Levin, Robert H. Bernstein, Chris Mays, Alin Wall
Ken Coelho, Partner, Business Management & Family Office Services, Armanino
Jason Zayon, Sam Levin, Robert H. Bernstein, Chris Mays, Alin Wall, Partners, Armanino
These six professionals handle film and TV talent in front of and behind the camera, Hollywood executives, professional athletes and the wealthy outside entertainment. Business management offices are in Los Angeles, Dallas, Irvine and San Jose. Coelho observes that clients are jumping into blockchain’s crypto-currency innovations, even as associated tax implications are unsettled. It’s a “new way for artists to exchange their works by creating their own crypto currencies. That is actually happening in our industry now.”
Digital Benefits: Coelho adds that digital communication tech enables staff “to work together from any of our office locations and quite frankly from anywhere in the world [and] provide our staff with a flexible work schedule. … When I speak with students on campus or the younger generation of business managers in the community, they all want to be with a firm that has this mindset.”
Andrew Crow, Tyson Beem, Melissa Morto, David Phillips, David Lloyd
Andrew Crow, WG&S Heritage
Tyson Beem, GRF Heritage
Melissa Morton, GRF Heritage
David Phillips, GRF Heritage
David Lloyd, WG&S Heritage
Managing directors, Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman
When Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman and WG&S merged in January, it united some of the most venerable names in the entertainment business-management world, not the least of which were the respective toppers Todd Gelfand and Eric Wasserman. But the combined firm also boasts an impressive collection of the industry’s younger stars.
WG&S had a staff of about 70, while GRF — which had been on an acquisition spree in recent years and was itself bought by Focus Financial Partners in 2017 — had several hundred employees.
“We had two types of groups at our firm, senior partners and the next generation,” says Crow, who joined WG&S from International Business Management in 2010. “We were looking at the next mountain and thinking, gee, do we build it or join a giant that has resources what we need and the expertise in transition. And that was the thought behind joining Gelfand.”
Crow’s clients include multi-hyphenate Jordan Peele, teen actress Storm Reid (“A Wrinkle in Time”) and Stargate, a Norwegian songwriting and production team that sold its publishing catalog for $70 million last year. Fellow WG&S alumnus Lloyd has a roster that includes Josh Groban and K Period Media and film financiers such as Kimberly Stewart, who produced “Manchester by the Sea.”
On the GRF heritage side, Beem and Morton focus on musicians and singer/songwriters, actors, writers, directors, entrepreneurs and YouTube and social media influencers, while David Phillips runs the royalty, publishing and film participation group.
Brandy Davis & John Blakeman
Clients include director F. Gary Gray and Roberto Orci of “Star Trek” fame. MGO’s entertainment practice is part of a larger firm with 400 employees in 13 offices. While Hollywood is humming, Davis also sees some uncertainty, such as the writers/talent agencies conflict that disrupts employment. “Clients have to be more pro-active in their contracts negotiations and stay on top of their money coming in,” Davis says.
Digital Evolution: “Adapt or die, I say,” says Blakeman. He feels that a key attribute is to be “responsive to change” as digital platforms proliferate in the business manager landscape.
Michael DeVito, Arnie Herrmann, Sharon Sullivan, Victor Wlodinguer
Partners, Entertainment & Business Management, Citrin Cooperman
The firm’s entertainment practice embraces music, film, TV and news media, says Herrmann. Its client list include newscaster Maria Bartiromo, actor Chevy Chase, DJ Premier, actor Liam Neeson, filmmaker Martin Scorsese and rockers The Strokes. There’s also a longtime relationship with The Who, including tour accounting. Historically East Coast-centric and ranked the number 22 accounting firm nationally, Citrin Cooperman is now bi-coastal after acquiring the Los Angeles-based boutique Shuwarger & Co. this past summer. In the merger-mania gripping business managers, Herrmann says he feels pure accounting firms like Citrin Cooperman are the best choice
for sellers because post-merger “there are specialties within the firm to help that are just down the hall from you.”
Pick Me A Winner: Years ago, a then out-of-town client wanted to buy a residence sight-unseen and “asked me to ‘pick the one that you think I would like,’ make an offer and consummate the transaction,” recalls Herrmann, which he did. “I’ve never had that happen again.”
Pat Dunn, Mark Pariser, Tony Peyrot
Pat Dunn, Founding Partner, Dunn Pariser & Peyrot
Mark Pariser & Tony Peyrot, Partners, Dunn Pariser & Peyrot
The three partners have complementary areas of expertise. Dunn’s specialty is setting up and running businesses for clients, while Pariser is the tax expert and Peyrot is adept at dealing with creative talent. They also each have big clients. Dunn has marquee names like director James Cameron, “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner and actor Randall Park (“Fresh Off the Boat”), while the other two have a mix of writers, directors, actors, musicians and producers. Pariser’s clients include producers Matt Tolmach (“Venom”) and Danny Smith (“Family Guy”), and Peyrot has TV creator/show runner Rob Thomas (“Veronica Mars”), writer/producer Gary Janetti (“Family Guy”), actor Giancarlo Esposito (“Better Call Saul”) and Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Draco Rosa.
Handling Investments Like Cryptocurrency: “A lot of times, we have to go in and take a little position just to have the tactile experience of doing it,” says Pariser. “But we’re mostly risk managers for our clients, so we’re going to take a fairly conservative approach with that stuff.”
Feldstein’s newest client is his daughter, Beanie Feldstein (“Booksmart”), who joins his son, Jonah Hill, as an accomplished Hollywood actor. “They keep an eye on me,” Feldstein jokes. Other clients are Madonna, Tyra Banks, Dr. Dre, Kate Hudson, Lenny and Zoë Kravitz, executives and entrepreneurs. For showbiz clients, the L.A.-based Feldstrin recommends conservative investing and spending “because you never know how long a career is going to be.”
Security, Security, Security: “Most of our communications today is by email and scan of documents that can’t be hacked,” thanks to a special sign-in that’s worth the extra hassle, he says.
Co-founder, Level Four Business Management
Friedman has his share of big-name clients, including filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, whom he’s handled since his “Pulp Fiction” days. He also takes the lead in managing the day-to-day operations of the firm, which has grown from six employees in 1993, when he launched it in partnership with John Rigney, to the 40-plus it has today as Level Four with fellow partners Charles Clancy and Mark Lichtenberg.
Real Estate Cool-Off?: “Specific to Los Angeles, in a certain price range, the supply of houses is exceeding demand, so you need to be smart and careful and try not to get emotional about buying a place.”
Founder, Fulton Management
One of the standout features of Fulton’s practice is that he charges clients an hourly rate instead of a percentage. The policy has helped attract a diverse mix of clients comprised of veterans and up-and-comers from the worlds of music (Hall & Oates) and film and TV (actors Channing Tatum, Colin Farrell, Shailene Woodley, Jameela Jamil, Camila Mendes, Sidney Sweeney, Liam and Chris Hemsworth, and “Jojo Rabbit” writer/director Taika Waititi), as well as people from the digital influencer space (Jenna Marbles, Rhett & Link).
Will California Law Limiting Indie Contractors Hurt Hollywood?: “If an actor making $1 million can no longer deduct 25% in commissions, that’s a huge hit.”
CEO, Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman
Gelfand has overseen partnerships and acquisitions in recent years, most recently a merger with WG&S in January and the purchase of British-based music specialist Skeet Kaye Hopkins in May. But his surname still sits atop the letterhead of the firm his father founded 52 years ago. Clients include a range of musicians, actors, writers, directors, athletes and other high-net-worth individuals.
Dealing With Younger Clients: “As a leader, I need to recognize that there are new waves all the time, and you need to have people who can surf those waves. We have several younger partners who a handle a lot of our influencers and YouTube sensations.”
W. Shane Glass, Amir Malek, Paul W. Glass, Pam Malek
W. Shane Glass
President, Colony Business Management & Managing Director, The Colony Group
Paul W. Glass
Vice Chairman, The Colony Group
Amir Malek, Pam Malek
Managing Directors, The Colony Group
Business Management firm Glass Malek merged with The Colony Group on Oct. 1. Paul and Shane are a father-son duo, and Amir and Pam are a husband-wife pair. Their Brentwood-based business management firm became the first California outpost for The Colony Group, a Boston-based investment adviser firm with 15 offices in seven states. The firm’s Hollywood business management is focused on accounting and taxes for entertainment clients, with a big practice in global concert touring. Shane Glass says a business manager’s primary task is planning, but it’s also about being vigilant about costs: “For touring clients, it’s the impromptu charter planes that can quickly diminish what would have otherwise been a nice payday.”
Fear Not!: Shane Glass advises: “Don’t be afraid to rent as there is only nominal upfront capital required.” Clients who rent are mobile and avoid repair bills, plus tax benefits for homeowners are reduced by tax law changes.”
Lawrence Goodfriend & Jeffrey Jacobs
Co-managing Partners, Goodfriend & Jacobs
Goodfriend is a fourth-generation CPA from Los Angeles who went to school with celebs like Chad Lowe. Jacobs moved to L.A. from his native Cleveland three decades ago, burned out on doing tax returns, and found work at a business management firm. The pair teamed to hang out their own shingle 19 years ago, handling a mix of actors, writers, directors, producers, agents and managers. Today, their Santa Monica-based firm is only a 16-person operation, but they believe that boutique quality is one of the things that makes them special. “We’re really hands-on partners,” says Goodfriend, “and the client benefits.”
The Business Manager As Shrink: “My daughter heard me on the phone with a client and she asked me if I was a psychologist,” says Goodfriend.
Warren Grant, Jane Tani, Corey Barash, Howard Altman
Partners, Grant Tani Barash & Altman
Together as a quartet since 1991, Grant, Tani, Barash and Altman have a list of individual clients that includes household names such as Tom Hanks, Dwayne Johnson, Brad Pitt and Earvin “Magic” Johnson (who’s been with Grant for more than 30 years), as well as a family office practice that works with entrepreneurs and families with multiple generations of wealth. While they share a unified approach to their business, each brings their own set of skills to the table. Grant’s specialty is real estate, Barash’s strength is tax matters, Altman works on private equity investments, and Tani (whose clients include Eric Idle and Joni Mitchell) oversees administration of the firm.
Real Estate Cool-Off?: “There are still opportunities available,” says Grant. “One of the areas that we’ve recently invested in is studios and soundstages. Due to the demand for content by streamers, there’s a shortage of space.”
(Pictured: Warren Grant, Corey Barash)
Managing Partner, Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman
Growing up, Grossman’s loves were baseball and music, and he’s been privileged to dedicate his professional life to the latter, handling a roster of legends that includes longtime clients America, The Bangles, David Foster and Tom Waits, and the estates of Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole and John Denver. He’s also participated in big IP transactions, including the sale of the Marilyn Monroe estate from the heirs of Lee Strasberg to Authentic Brands.
Business Manager Merger Mania: “Every time two firms get married, it takes people off the table, so I think it will become harder to find suitors and matches moving into the future.”
Managing Director, Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman
The 37-year industry vet gave up his rock star dreams when he chose USC Business School over Berklee College of Music, but the onetime drummer still became a big man in the music industry, managing the financial affairs of top-shelf classic rock acts (the firm’s clients include Bob Dylan and Neil Diamond), as well as film and TV stars and industry execs.
Most Eccentric Client Request: “When I first started, I had to go down to the grocery store to buy boxes of teething biscuits for an artist who had left on tour and forgotten them and could not survive on the road without them.”
Michael Kaplan & Justine Ruffalo
Partners, Miller Kaplan
The L.A.-based firm sports a 215-person staff in six offices and makes periodic acquisitions of smaller firms. Hollywood clients are film/TV talent, music figures, influencers and industry executives. Kaplan frets that California law limiting independent contractor status could squeeze individuals if it disallows business deductions. “It can be extremely costly from a federal tax perspective,” Kaplan says.
Digital Divide: “We have clients who refuse to do anything electronically and clients who only want to communicate digitally,” says Ruffalo. “So we adapt to our clients’ needs.”
Karlin handles film, TV and music for talent and executives, plus the wealthy outside Hollywood. Clients include Bill Maher; Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald; music’s Van Halen; and Melissa Rivers/the Joan Rivers estate. NKSFB is now part of Focus Financial. Karlin, who has a masters degree in business taxation, observes “just about every transaction has a tax impact,” so clients need to capture tax benefits such as deferring and qualifying for deductions; and be mindful of changes in rules.
Bullish In Real Estate: Though prices have softened, Karlin is still bullish because “there is still tremendous demand and demand is supporting pricing in good areas.”
Partner and Managing Director, Monarch Business and Wealth Management
Klein handles music talent and executives, pro athletes, actors, and high-net-worth individuals outside entertainment. Clients include football’s Prince Amukamara, Bazzi, Big Sean, Sophia Bush, the Chainsmokers, Logic and Kelly Rowland. His bi-coastal firm has doubled its staff in two years. L.A.-based Klein sees business managers embracing shorter client lists as talent require more “face to face interaction.”
Homeward Bound: While home prices may have softened, that’s offset by lower interest rates reducing borrowing costs. That also means “it’s time to re-finance for most clients,” he adds.
Tax Partner, Singer Burke Zimmer
Kogan is a specialist for tax planning and compliance. To that end, she says that Hollywood talent working on-site overseas “should not underestimate the difference in tax regimes in different countries.” Foreign jurisdictions may levy assessments while talent should also claim offsets to avoid double taxation.
Taxing Matters: While politicians float big tax overhaul ideas, “we’re focusing on the current federal tax law that’s only been in effect for a year,” says Kogan. That means reducing taxes via immediate deduction of production costs, deductions for qualifying business income and accelerated depreciation for capital improvements.
Founder and President, ML Management Partners
New York-based Landesman handles Vin Diesel, Tina Fey, Gal Gadot, Eddie Murphy, Ryan Reynolds and Chris Rock, and has a knack for connecting to comedic talent, including cast members of “Saturday Night Live.” Landesman marvels that clients using their connected personal communications devices have turned business management into a 24/7 activity because “you are responding to emails at 11 p.m. at night. It didn’t used to be that way.”
Ouch!: Landesman will never forget helping a client “take delivery of a $2 million Bugatti only to have it towed back to the dealership 10 minutes later” after being hit while stopped at a red light.
Partner, Level Four Business Management
Bronx-born Lichtenberg spent many a night in the early ‘80s hanging out at L.A. comedy clubs like The Improv until 2 a.m. with his childhood pal Paul Provenza and other stand-ups, many of whom are now comedy legends. He may have been bleary-eyed at work the next day, but those good times still continue to pay dividends with a client list rich in funny people such as Will Ferrell, Larry David and Molly Shannon.
Is Real Estate Cooling Off?: “It’s very much neighborhood-driven, so if you’re buying a house within walking distance to the [Rick] Caruso development in the Palisades, that market is still on fire.”
Peter Mainstain, Michael Glynn, Bradley Johnson, Thomas Fouladi, Robert Harrison, David Coronel
Peter Mainstain, Co-founder, Tanner Mainstain Glynn & Johnson
Michael Glynn, Bradley Johnson, Thomas Fouladi, Robert Harrison, David Coronel, Partners, Tanner Mainstain Glynn & Johnson
Founded by Mainstain and Bill Tanner in 1976, the firm has seven partners and 65 employees servicing a long list of loyal clients, including actor Michael Keaton, multihyphenate Aaron Sorkin, writer/producer Craig Silverstein (“Turn”) and writer/directors Marc Lawrence (“Noelle”) and Ron Shelton (“Bull Durham”), who’s been with them for 40-plus years, as well as Jackie Chan, Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao (for U.S. business) and behind-the-scenes types ranging from agents to cinematographers.
According to Fouladi, a number of things sets them apart from competing firms. One is that all the partners are CPAs. Another is the firm’s proprietary templates and cash flow presentations. “We’re able to communicate to our clients clearly and show them their finances in very simple and clear terms,” says Fouladi, who serves as co-manager of the firm with Glynn, working in collaboration with managing partner Mainstain.
In recent years, many business-management firms have been absorbed by larger financial services companies, but the partners of TMGJ insist that they have no interest in selling. In fact, in recent years, “we’ve taken over a couple of small practices,” says Fouladi. “And we’re hoping to grow organically, as well as through acquisitions.”
Will California Law Limiting Indie Contractors Hurt Hollywood?: “It could mean that anywhere from 20% to 35% of your gross income is now not deductible,” says Mainstain. “The way we were able to deduct those fees [for agency commissions, etc.] was by use of a loan-out company, but if you’re an employee, you’re not entitled to use one.”
Carolyn Rossip Malcolm
Founding Partner, CRM Management
David Duchovny and Ethan Hawke are Malcolm’s first clients — and still with her New York-based firm, which handles actors, filmmakers, writers, and small production and management companies. She had to piece together client records after 9/11 — the firm she worked for was in the World Trade Center — because the industry relied mostly on paper then. That experience “gave me the courage to start my own company not much later.”
Generational Shift: “I now work with some children of clients and their children’s friends who are in the business.” While they prefer debit cards, she also recommends credit cards to establish personal credit.
Craig A. Manzino, Joe Rust, Melody Young, Dean Michaels
Craig A. Manzino
Partner-Entertainment Industry Leader (New York), Prager Metis
Western Region Managing Partner (El Segundo, Calif.), Prager Metis
Principal (Woodland Hills, Calif.), Prager Metis
Principal (New York), Prager Metis
Clients include “South Park’s” Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Laverne Cox, Danai Gurira, Maggie Siff and Samira Wiley. The firm’s Hollywood business management staff numbers 125, covering clients in TV/film, Broadway, music (performing talent, touring, songwriters and music publishers), sports, modeling and influencers. Manzino says that recent entertainment business-manager acquisitions enlarge the Prager Metis offices in London, Los Angeles and New York. Manzino says client income is impacted by Hollywood’s direct-to-consumer streaming economic model that puts consumers in charge of “what they want, how they will consume and how much they are willing to pay for content.” He sees streaming’s production boom lifting international work for clients, and expects 5G wireless as a next-stage catalyst for Hollywood employment.
Helping Hand: While seamless digital communications with clients is boffo, “at the end of the day it’s still about giving the advice and counsel that clients need,” says Manzino. “Clients still need a person to guide them to reaching their goals.”
(Pictured: Craig A. Manzino, Joe Rust, Melody Young)
Founding Partner, Freemark Financial
Meyer founded the boutique firm that has grown to 65 employees and is “proudly independent.” His clients are said to include Ellen Pompeo, Constance Wu, Anna Kendrick, writer-producer-actor Kenya Barris, director Jon M. Chu, Alexander Skarsgard, Ramy Youssef and producer Andrew Form. The Beverly Hills-based Meyer is thrilled that “streaming platforms create a new opportunity to deliver feature film-level production” through their limited TV series. He adds this benefits the industry economically and lets clients enjoy the broader creative leeway.
Tech View: “You lean in,” Meyer says. “The foundation of our firm is that we are independent and designed to stay nimble.”
Managing Director, Gelfand Rennert & Feldman
In his youth, Mozenter dreamed of being a rock star, “but that didn’t happen,” he says. Instead, he handles the money of many big players in the biz, including touring artists, singer/songwriters, music producers and record labels, as well as film and TV personalities, athletes and industry execs. His greatest satisfaction comes from working with young artists to create a stable financial foundation, helping them buy homes, save for retirement and set up college savings plans for their children.
Handling Cryptocurrency: “It’s like anything else. If it’s small part of your pie or your portfolio, so we usually don’t have an issue with it.”
Managing Director, Gelfan Rennert & Feldman
Nash took a job in the mailroom of GRF’s New York office when he was a senior at NYU and never left. He doesn’t see that changing now that the firm is owned by Focus Financial Partners. “They don’t want to make entrepreneurs into employees,” he says. Clients include Lionel Richie, Denis Leary and other film and TV, music, modeling and sports figures, as well as non-celebrity high net worth individuals.
Is Real Estate Cooling Off?: In certain sections of California, no. In Manhattan and some surrounding areas, definitely. “It’s a struggle to deal with clients who have preconceived ideas about what their properties might be valued at.”
Harley J. Neuman
Partner, Newman and Associates, Division of NKSFB
Neuman’s clients include Ellen DeGeneres, Scarlett Johansson, TV producer Ryan Murphy, John C. Reilly, Emma Roberts, Zoe Saldana, and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos. In March, Neuman’s firm merged into NKSFB, which is a division of Focus Financial. Neuman finds Hollywood pay mechanisms in flux: “The way people get paid in the streaming business is very different than before. That’s the revolution that’s upending everything.”
Living In Your Investment: Neuman likes real estate, though it’s in a tough patch as an outside investment. “If you’re buying real estate to live in, a roof over your head, nothing should change.”
Partner, NKSFBGO, Division of NKSFB
Beyoncé, Eminem, Steve Aoki, the estate of Nipsey Hussle, Slipknot, Smashing Pumpkins and YG are clients in Oppenheim’s extensive music practice, which includes personal management executives and record labels. He also works film/TV. Oppenheim marvels at the soaring sale prices that songwriters, producers and labels get for their music assets. Clients “young and old can set themselves up for their financial futures,” he says.
Big Chill: Oppenheim assisted a client “securing a cryogenic chamber for post-life/death resuscitation.” Among the challenges is paying for operating expenses into the future and, yes, estate planning.
Founding Partner, Level Four Business Management
Originally from the Midwest, Rigney began his career in business management in 1972 when he answered an ad placed by Jess Morgan & Co. looking for a bookkeeper. Today, he has in impressive list of clients that includes directors Luc Besson, Kenny Ortega and David Gordon Green, actor/producer Josh Hutcherson, and film and TV stars such as Danny McBride, Walton Goggins, Samuel L. Jackson and Jim Carrey, the latter of which has been with him since 1983.
A Client Wants To Open a Restaurant: “No. Go jump off a bridge if you want to commit suicide. It’s the worst business in the world.”
Founding Partner, Freemark Financial
The Beverly Hills-based business manager works across Hollywood with content producers, ad agencies and music talent. Clients include ad agency Droga5 and David Droga; TV episodic producer Fabrik Entertainment; diversified production company Smuggler; Chantel Jeffries; Latin music duo Jesse & Joy; and Southern-rock duo Larkin Poe. Rodriguez marvels at current M&A activity. “I’ve never seen so much outside interest in clients at the same time.”
Cool Combo: He worked for Droga5 in its sale for a reported $500 million to Accenture Interactive, which is groundbreaking by “merging a leading consultancy with a best-in-class creative agency.”
Managing Partner, Kessler, Schneider & Scheltinga
As merger-mania sweeps business management, Schneider feels staying independent “leaves us an opportunity to differentiate ourselves from the larger conglomerates.” His firm handles actors, writers, directors, producers, executives, talent agencies and personal management companies. He believes that traditional boutiques — usually staffed with around 30 persons — offer personalized, hands-on service and a collegial environment.
Rentals Benefit: Powered by a TV production boom from streamers, Schneider sees “a heavy demand for housing, which provides a good opportunity to own rental real estate” in the Los Angeles’ production-hub neighborhoods. Rentals still enjoy tax benefits that were reduced elsewhere by federal tax reform.
Segal’s turf expanded. absorbing three business management firms over eight months, growing to an industry-high 565 employees in seven offices. Segal says that recent estate-planning initiatives should generate substantial client benefits. The L.A.-based exec, whose clients include Paul Anka and Thomas Tull, worries about “a growing variety of risks” connected to client services, such as being trustees for life-insurance trusts.
Going Digital: Segal tries to accommodate young employees wanting to work digitally from home some days, because “otherwise you won’t be able to hire the best.”
Managing Partner, Altman, Greenfield & Selvaggi
Last December, Selvaggi’s firm became the latest group of entertainment money managers to move under the umbrella of financial services giant Focus Financial Partners. But he’s still dedicated to providing boutique service to his client list, which includes Rachel Brosnahan, Alan Cumming, Jimmy Fallon, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Lange and Sarah Jessica Parker, the latter of whom has been with him for 37 years.
Rules To Live By: Respond to clients immediately. “I feel bad if I don’t return an email within an hour. It’s their money, and you want to make sure that they’re not having any anxiety about it.”
Partner, Business Wealth & Tax Management
L.A. native Shaheen launched his eight-person office in 2018, focusing almost exclusively on music (including record labels, touring and royalty administration), with a handful of film and TV clients, production companies and managers. An opponent of “360 deals” in which artists give up a percentage of their publishing and other rights, his roster includes Nigerian singer/songwriter Burna Boy, Norwegian deejay-producer Matoma and Brooklyn-born rapper JPEGMafia
Rules To Live By: “The team is reflective of the client. If you have a good client and a bad manager, then that could spoil the pot.”
CEO, Summit Business Management
A three-decade veteran of the business, Shapiro has a client roster spanning movies, TV, music and sports that includes “Weird” Al Yankovic, Zendaya, Aaron Paul and Christian Yelich. As a result of paradigm shifts, from the streaming explosion to #MeToo, his business has grwon substantially in recent years, virtually all of it via client referrals. Today, he has 30 people working for him, servicing some 550 clients.
Handling Cryptocurrency: “I have many clients who insisted on getting involved with cryptocurrencies ironically at the time that [they] were at all time highs. Now they are just waiting to break even.”
Rick Shephard, John McIlwee, Mark Tinglof
Rick Shephard, Founding Partner, Shephard McIlwee Tinglof
John McIlwee & Mark Tinglof, Partners, Shephard McIlwee Tinglof
Clients at the Los Angeles-based firm are talent in front of and behind the camera, influencers and trusts. Shephard handles Ben Stiller, Jon Favreau, Kurt Russell and Courteney Cox. McIlwee’s clients include Jane Lynch, Matt Reeves, Duncan Joiner, Tanisha Long, Christian Serratos and skateboarder Sky Brown. Tinglof handles Michael Engler, Jeff Kleeman, Alan Poul. With the economy constantly re-inventing jobs and also regulations such as tax laws shifting, Shephard says that advice to clients needs to keep in step with the changing times. “The business manager has to avoid the mindset what worked well in the past will work into the future,” Shepard says.
Durable Investments: “What people will always need is a good grocery store, urgent care facilities and, eventually, assisted living facilities. These things are not going away,” says Tingloff.
Richard Singer, Amitha Harichandran, Stephanie Connor Arkof
Wealth Management Partners, SB Capital Management (Singer Burke Zimmer)
The Encino, Calif.-based trio are pillars at the multi-family office providing financial advisory and advanced planning services. SB Capital Management stands alongside Singer Burke Zimmer. Entertainment clients are TV showrunners, IP owners, Hollywood execs, composers, tech entrepreneurs involved in gaming and software development, professional athletes and influencers. Singer sees a growing trend of clients re-directing their investment around personal values, in what is known as environmental social governance. He adds one challenge in implementation is “making any transition in a tax-efficient manner.”
Embracing Real Estate: With bond yields low and the stock market elevated, Singer says that “we are actually increasing our allocations for clients to real estate, where we can think we can make double or triple of the return” in comparison to a traditional balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds.
Founding Partner, SKH, Gelfand Rennert & Feldman
In May, Skeet’s London-based firm Skeet Kaye Hopkins became the latest acquisition of L.A.-based Gelfand, Rennart & Feldman. The merger gave GRF clients working in England and the European Union, an outpost and region-specific expertise, and it gave Skeet’s musician-rich roster — which encompasses everyone from newbies who just signed their first record deal to festival headliners — a solid base in the States, where many of them work and live.
Real Estate Cool-Off?: “In the U.K. it has, and we’re pretty certain that’s because of all the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. But there are bargains to be had, so we still think it’s a good investment.”
Partner, Gelfand Rennert & Feldman
The Ohio native did a stint with Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman from 1985-89, so it was a homecoming of sorts when GRF merged with his firm WG&S in January. Clients include Alison Brie, husband-and-wife TV creators Nichelle Tramble Spellman (Apple’s “Truth Be Told”) and Malcolm Spellman (Disney Plus’ “Falcon & Winter Soldier”), and writer/director/producers Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz (“thirtysomething”), who have been clients for 25 years.
Rules To Live By: “Be super-focused on the basic stuff: tax planning and risk mitigation. We have to make sure clients have all the proper insurance in place, whether it’s professional or homeowners.”
Partner, Bills & Stoll
Bills & Stoll handles film/TV actors, writers, directors, producers and non-Hollywood clients. Looking at the arc of the digital revolution, Stoll notes that emails became important client communications 10 years ago and five years ago digital seized center stage, so, with security, “we’ve locked down clients’ financial data with systems and processes.” A new wrinkle is hackers emulating client voices, making multilayer authentication a must.
Plugged In: “Worrisome as technology can be, it actually allows us to better deliver information to clients in a much more efficient manner,” Stoll says. “Clients are better informed about their financial lives.”
Founder, CEO, Tristar Sports and Entertainment
Taylor says her firm, which has offices in Nashville and Los Angeles, operates with a “built-for-more mentality,” always looking to involve her clients in more asset-appreciating businesses, whether they be music publishing or record companies or a personal liquor brand. Her client roster includes Steven Tyler, Mary J. Blige, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Florida Georgia Line, Priyanka Chopra Jones and the Prince estate. She was also instrumental setting up client Britney Spears’ highly-lucrative and influential Las Vegas residency in 2013.
Touchy Subject: Estate planning. “If you’ve got somebody who’s uber-famous at 23, they really don’t want to be talking about something that’s post-mortem.”
Managing Director, Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman
Wasserman merged his firm WG&S with GRF in January, and the combined company acquired British-based music specialist Skeet Kaye Hopkins in May. Wasserman first established himself in the ‘80s on the music biz side, and today he leads the firm’s ultra-high-net-worth practice, and has a list of clients that includes Metallica, Richard Gere, Conan O’Brien’s production companies Conaco and Team Coco, and singer Gwen Stefani.
Client Concern Over Leftward Tilt Of Democratic Party?: “For the most part, our clients are following the polarization that is out in the world. We have clients that are pro-Trump and pro-Bernie.”
Partner, David Weise and Associates, Division of NKSFGB
Coldplay, Carol King, Marshmello, John Travolta and Jack White are clients. Weise delivers outsourced accounting and CFO services with clients primarily in entertainment, and also royalty tracking and non-entertainment legal transactional services. Last January, the firm merged into NKSFB. On decision-making, “If you don’t agree with clients, share it with them,” the Encino, Calif.-based business manager says. “As long as you’ve given them all the financial info — all the pros and cons — they can make well-informed decisions.”
Think Ahead: “You have to be a long-term investor, whether in real estate, equities or alternative investments.”
Partner/Founder, Yorkshire Management Group
Yorkshire’s clients are in music and include many rappers. Others are in sports, film and TV. He owns his Los Angeles-based company after de-merging from MGO earlier this year. When giving advice to clients, he says that “it’s not talking them out of particular purchases, but telling what else they could get for the same amount of money and how it’ll have a better effect on their futures.”
The Long View: Yorkshire takes a bullish view. “Real estate is like the weather; it may cool off but it will eventually heat back up again. When it’s cool, that’s OK too. That may be the time to buy.”