Joe Duran, BCEMBA 04

CEO, Founding Partner
United Capital Financial PArtners
Newport Beach, CA

In a nine-figure transaction, Joe Duran, BCEMBA 04, sold his first company, Centurion Capital Management, to GE Private Asset Management in 2001 at the age of 34. With a book deal and a noncompete clause, the Zimbabwe-raised Duran “had had an amazing run, but didn’t know what to do next,” he recalls.


Duran already had earned a chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation but always felt the MBAs who worked for him knew something he didn’t. After researching a few full-time graduate programs, he chose the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA Program for its flexible schedule and academic rigor.


“It helped me lay the groundwork for my new business without sheltering me from the contacts I had built over the years," Duran says.


Now Duran is building yet another business, despite the challenging economy. At a time when the financial services industry is still suffering from the financial meltdown and resulting consumer wariness, Duran’s United Capital Financial Partners has been acquiring smaller investment adviser companies in an effort to build a national, centralized network of wealth managers, whose holistic approach he hopes will redefine the way investors receive services.


“Our industry traditionally sells investment products; they don’t sell a service that helps people live out their financial life,” Duran explains. “We deliver consistent service, just the way you want it, so you’re adequately funded to live out your life goals as well as your financial ones.”


To date, the firm boasts 28 offices around the country, more than 200 employees, and $10 billion in client assets. Since its inception in 2005, United Capital has been one of the fastest growing financial services firms in the country.


In addition to building his own businesses, one of Duran’s favorite roles is that of an entrepreneurial coach. His book Start It, Sell It and Make a Mint: 20 Wealth-Creating Secrets for Business Owners (Wiley, 2004) lays out his philosophies in an accessible, no-nonsense way. Duran admits it takes sweat equity to grow a business, but alchemy and self-reflection play a role, too.


“We are so accustomed with equating our identity as a person with our title,” explains Duran, who also has owned a yoga studio. “But at the end of the day we’re not here to work, we’re here to live.”

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