Gerber Kawasaki Wealth & Investment Management in Santa Monica is the latest money management firm to adopt an automated financial adviser product. Gerber’s proprietary mobile app, Money Map, provides budgeting and analysis technology, and also connects users directly with Gerber’s advisers if they have questions.

But Gerber Chief Executive Ross Gerber doesn’t want his new app lumped in with competing robo-adviser offerings such as one from San Francisco brokerage giant Charles Schwab Corp., which use asset-allocation algorithms to construct portfolios.

“We consider ourselves the anti-robo-adviser application,” Gerber said. “Financial planning is not a simple thing. This is where the robo-advisers fail. They aren’t advisers, they’re algorithms.”

The firm’s app provides budgeting tools, market news and even a stream of the firm’s Twitter feed. Another social element allows people to see what tools others are using on the app in real time. And, most importantly, users can call or email the Gerber’s financial advisers directly through the app.

“Essentially, what we wanted to do was put our firm on people’s phones,” Gerber said.

The app is free to download and users don’t have to have existing accounts with Gerber. CEO Gerber said that he hopes the app’s features attract users that eventually turn into clients.

Burning Wealth

As tax day approaches, charitable gifts that reduce obligations to Uncle Sam are on everyone’s mind. The cultural institutions that traditionally receive the lion’s share of philanthropy from high-net-worth individuals tend to be blue-blood, old-line institutions like bucolic East Coast liberal arts colleges, art museums and orchestras.

But as new tech and entertainment stars are born, wealth in Los Angeles is changing, and so too are the beneficiaries of that wealth.

Nadia Allaudin, who manages about $300 million for the Century City office of Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management, said there’s been a sea change in the way some of her younger clients parcel out their cash.

“You’d be surprised,” she said. “A lot of them are giving to places like Burning Man and the Esalen Institute.”

Esalen, an alternative learning center in Big Sur, and Burning Man, an annual gathering in the Northern Nevada desert that defies description, deliberately lack any traits one would typically associate with the very wealthy or the causes they tend to support. And that might add to their appeal to those in the philanthropic class, Allaudin said.

“There are a lot of nontraditional brokerage clients,” she said.

Raising California

Banc of California Inc. is one of the few local community banks actually growing right now. In fact, it’s happening so fast the bank needed more money to support that growth.

“We have the nice problem of seeing growth that’s starting to outpace our capital,” said Steve Sugarman, the bank’s chief executive. “The additional capital will enable us to meet market demand.”

The bank, which is headquartered in Irvine and has executive offices in Beverly Hills, announced March 31 that it would be selling $175 million in 10-year senior notes, which will carry an interest rate of 5.3 percent, plus 4 million shares of preferred stock, which have a 7.4 percent coupon.

Banc of California has about $6 billion in assets, and Sugarman said this capital raise will allow it to increase its assets even further.

“Following this, we’re now fully financed to continue to grow the bank up to $10 billion,” he said.

Sugarman said low rates and a strong market environment for investment-grade corporate debt, which Banc’s was rated, made raising money in this manner appealing.

“It was a combination of a low interest rate and strong demand for senior securities – specifically for banks like ours,” he said.

C-Suite News

Century City investment bank Houlihan Lokey has hired John Perkins as a managing director in its strategic consulting department. He was previously with Boston consulting firm Bain & Co. … El Segundo broker-dealer network Cetera Financial Group has named J. David Ballard executive vice president and chief operating officer. He previously served the same role for AIG Advisor Group in New York. … Downtown L.A. investment firm TCW Group has hired Simon Park as a managing director in its domestic fixed-income group. He was previously with JAE Credit Management in New York. … MUFG Union Bank in San Francisco has appointed three new members to its community advisory board, two of whom have ties to Los Angeles. Hyepin Im is chief executive of Korean Churches for Community Development in Koreatown and Tunua Thrash-Ntuk is executive director of West Angeles Community Development Corp. in South Los Angeles.

Staff reporter Matt Pressberg can be reached at or (323) 549-5225, ext. 230.

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