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LVW Advisors LLC, owned by Pittsford financial adviser Lori Van Dusen, has hired a former investment and venture capital specialist at Eastman Kodak Co. as its managing partner and chief operating officer.
Kim Pugliese, 52, left Kodak on March 9 as managing director for intellectual property licensing and director of strategic product group IP support. She is scheduled to start Monday at the individual and institutional investment firm in Pittsford.
"When it was time for me to consider a change, I was able to take a timeout and reflect on what was important to me and what I wanted to do going forward," Pugliese said this week. "This opportunity with LVW came at a great time.
"I knew I wanted to go someplace where there was tremendous growth opportunity. I wanted to be in a small environment but working with a big skill level, a sharp group of people. And I wanted to be in a place where there was high integrity and a collaborative team approach."
Richard Van Kuren, managing partner since Van Dusen launched her firm in October after three years as the local office of Convergent Wealth Advisors LLC, will become a senior partner. He has been a Van Dusen associate for more than 15 years.
"Kim is really going to be managing," Van Dusen said. "She's going to be managing people and process. That's her role.
"Kim has been working with our interim COO, who's great and who realizes she's working herself out of a job. She's been in early, working with Kim one-on-one over the last couple of weeks."
LVW employs 15 people, including Pugliese, after opening in October with 11 Convergent associates.
"As far as the technology, or platform, the team has built, I buy into the holistic approach with clients," said Pugliese, who joined Kodak in 1984 after being an account executive at money manager Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Inc.
"Many years ago, I worked at one of the big wire houses, and I know what it's like to have fees related to specific products. I don't buy into that approach. Lori is now completely independent. There's a wide-open ability to solve the client's problems with the best possible solutions."
LVW advises on $3 billion in assets from 37 clients, as well as some $700 million in endowments and family office assets. Business has increased by 20 percent, Van Dusen said, in LVW's five months in existence.
"But we're pretty selective," she said. "We're trying to solve the whole client problem. I would call it the ultra-high-net-worth space, and then small to midsize institutions, foundations and endowments.
"We have selectively been growing, and we're certainly very interested in growing. That's one of the reasons Kim is coming on, to figure out how to optimize both our people and technology better."
Wealthy private clients account for half the business, with private foundations and non-profits related to health care and education the other half.
"She has a diverse set of clients," Pugliese said. "The financial markets are becoming more and more sophisticated, and Lori's clients are becoming bigger and with more complex problems. It's great to offer them more of a one-stop approach to solving their financial needs."
Van Dusen and Pugliese, a Penfield resident, first met 10 years ago.
"I guess I would say we kind of had an instant connection," Van Dusen said. "We have a lot in common, and we've just stayed in toucPPh over the years. She's grown in terms of her career and responsibilities, and the timing was just kind of right.
"We were looking to leverage the top of the firm, a lot of what I do. She has, in my opinion, the right combination of skills to do that. It all came together relatively quickly, but I knew we were going to be making a hire."
Van Dusen said in October that she planned to add three employees, including a COO and a chief technology officer.
"It kind of morphed into more than just a COO," she said. "We'd been outsourc-ing our COO/CFO responsibilities, which has worked great.
"But at this point, and at this stage of our growth, I felt like we needed to bring that internally, and we also needed someone who had a skill set to work with our client base, too, and sit on our investment committee. Kim has all of that."
Van Dusen made the hire two months sooner than planned, she said, after talking to Pugliese.
"I talked to several people, and a lot of them were very accomplished," Van Dusen said. "I think they would've done a good job in that CFO/COO role. But I really needed someone who would fit as a right brain/left brain person.
"It's someone who's used to being analytical and solving problems but has the investment skill set, too."
Kodak's filing for bankruptcy protection in the early morning of Jan. 19 played a major role in Pugliese's decision to leave the company after 28 years.
"It has to factor in, right?" she said. "I have many more years to work. I like to work, and I like to be challenged. I like to build things. I like to grow things."
Pugliese was vice president of Kodak Ventures Group, analyzing investment opportunities, negotiating and structuring agreements, and managing Kodak's venture capital portfolio and associated commercial relationships.
"That requires investment," she said. "It's also a more longer-term (return on investment) kind of play. You're not going to get the big pop the next quarter. No one really has the stomach for those kinds of activities today."
Pugliese most recently oversaw Kodak's IP market, leading a team that established and launched the company's patent-licensing program.
"We brought in over $3 billion in royalty revenue since the inception of the program," she said. "That's pivotal to the bankruptcy proceedings.
"I was at Kodak for quite a while and had many great opportunities over the years. I had a variety of positions, a great opportunity to make a difference and add value while I was there, and to grow personally."
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