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A meeting set up by a former classmate helped Barry Leslie '08 double the size of his asset management firm.

An introduction from the network helped Barry Leslie '08 make an acquisition that more than doubled the size of his firm

Start Me Up: Barry Leslie ’08

An introduction made through the Kellogg network helped Barry Leslie double the size of his firm.

By Hal Conick

12/14/2015 - Editor's Note: In the Start Me Up series, the Kellogg School spotlights members of the Kellogg community who are bringing bold entrepreneurial visions to life.

Barry Leslie ’08 started working as a wealth manager immediately after graduating from the University of Michigan and set a simple career goal: $25 million in assets under management.

“It was like, ‘Hey, if I just get there, then I’ll coast,” he said. “But things change over time.”

While attending Kellogg’s Part-Time Program over three-and-a-half years, Leslie’s goal grew to $100 million in assets under management. This past June, he was able to exceed that goal through the help of a referral from another Kellogg alum.

And with one transaction, the Chicago-based Leslie Global Wealth, LLC grew from $60 million to $132 million in assets under management.

“That’s incredible growth, right?” Leslie said, seemingly still in awe.

Keeping in touch

Leslie says keeping in touch was the key to securing the acquisition. One of the first classmates he met at Kellogg gave Leslie’s name to a 76-year-old wealth manager who was looking, unsuccessfully, for a successor and did not want to sell his clients to a big company.

The owner of the business lived right next to Northwestern’s Ryan Field and was very familiar with Kellogg. He called Leslie, and after two years of work, Leslie finally closed the deal this summer.

“It’s exciting. I have to be cognizant of the recent firm growth, though, and implement new strategies that allow me to continue to provide superior service to my clients,” Leslie said.

This is where Leslie says his Kellogg degree will come into play. He reflected on all of the entrepreneurial and strategy classes he took — knowledge he will now be able to fully put to use.

“I still pull out some of my old binders; I have everything at my office,” he said, noting that he has already been looking back at old notes to help make this transition as smooth as possible.

New business, new goals

As Leslie’s business has expanded, so have his goals.

“I’m only 39 years old,” he says, “so you realize, ‘Okay, if you can improve by $70 million at the drop of a hat, there’s no reason I can’t hit $500 million eventually.’”

Because this recent acquisition brings his firm above $100 million in managed assets, Leslie Global Wealth, LLC is now registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as a Registered Investment Advisor.

The potential and stakes have never been higher. After managing one or two employees over the last few years, Leslie says he’ll need to hire and manage a larger staff.

From here, he wants to see even more business acquisitions and business growth, but he will first need to meet with all of his new clients and ensure his newly doubled company is on the right track.

“The real work for me is actually about to start,” he said. “I’m going to start getting in face-to-face and doing phone calls and integrating the new clients into my firm.”

Meeting of the minds

Leslie points to the Kellogg network as the catalyst for much of his success. He’s made three acquisitions since 2011 and received much of his confidence and support from friends he’s made at Kellogg.

Specifically, Leslie cites the Kellogg Entrepreneurs Organization for the help and support it has given him.

KEO is an unofficial club that retired Kellogg clinical professor of entrepreneurship Barry Merkin formed for students who were or aspired to be business owners. Leslie continues to meet with this group of Kellogg alumni and says they have been extremely helpful.

“We share ideas; we bounce ideas off one another; we say, ‘Hey I’m really struggling with this, can you help me?’” Leslie said. “I’m still meeting with them and it’s, what, six years later? We’re all Kellogg alumni, and we each own our own business. It’s pretty neat.”

From the referrals, advice and peers who have become clients, the network has been invaluable to Leslie and his business.

“It’s the network that I think is extremely powerful. It works well for you if you let it,” he said. “If you’re not taking advantage of that, you’re missing out.”

Read more in the Start Me Up Series: