Inspired By Her Intrepid Father and Experience, Christina Lewis Launches a Multi-Family Office

The daughter of Black businessman Reginald Lewis is rethinking what a family office can and should be.

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Christina Lewis in her home office. (Photo by Cindy Johnson)

Christina Lewis was forced to think about what it meant to be wealthy, and how that wealth should be managed, at a young age.

When her father, Reginald Lewis, the trailblazing businessman and founder of the first black-owned business to generate $1 billion in annual sales, died at age 50 in 1993, he left behind a fortune and instructions that his daughters were to be more than just the beneficiaries of that wealth — they would be the stewards. Christina Lewis met with financial advisors for the first time when she was just 13.

Now, after three decades of working closely with a variety of professionals across half a dozen financial services firms, Lewis has a refined single-family office in BFO21. But the “philanthropreneur” also has an abundance of knowledge and experience that she wants to share with other people who are navigating different phases of managing their own wealth.

She’s received great advice from legacy companies but “there’s a void in the marketplace,” Lewis told Institutional Investor. A new generation of wealthy people is emerging (more new billionaires are wealth inheritors than creators now) and many groups of them — including women and Black families — want their wealth managers to be more responsive to who they are.

To help fill that void, Lewis has started the multi-family office Beatrice Advisors, named after her father’s company, TLC Beatrice International. “A family office that aligns with our needs and our values from the beginning. We don’t need to inject inclusive principles, start a diversity program to have a diverse team or woman-led [team]. We have a diverse team. We’re a proud equal opportunity employer. We’re doing this this way because it’s who we are,” Lewis said.

Meredith Bowen, the chief investment officer of BFO21, will also be the president and CIO of Beatrice Advisors.

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“We view our role as both an education-oriented role in the early days. Then, in the future, in a support role where I think traditional services tend to impose their views on families about what is best for the family. We really want to hear from families what is best for them and help guide them to defining it,” Bowen said.

Great investment management and professionalism are nonetheless expected by those clients. But, like Lewis, some want to be more involved than others. “I want to drive the car; this is my life. I want to be in the driver’s seat, but what I need is an advisor and a company that advises me on what the dashboard is saying. How much fuel is in the tank, how fast am I going?” Lewis said. “Where I don’t want to be is tinkering with the engine. And that’s what Beatrice is offering.”

Lewis dedicated much of her time during the past decade to philanthropy, as the vice chair of the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation and through other initiatives and organizations, and Beatrice is another important avenue to making a difference.

“This venture of a multi-family office comes from a learning that I’ve had, which is that a profitable, privately owned business is, I think, a hugely impactful means to affect change. Change in this country and in the world,” Lewis said.

Want to read more stories like this? Subscribe to Officium, a biweekly newsletter for family-office employees by Michael Thrasher, a senior reporter at Institutional Investor based in New York.

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