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Investment firm marks 25 years in business

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Quarter-century and counting: Hugh Barit, chairman and chief executive officer of Performa. The firm is celebrating 25 years of operation this year (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Investment management firm PRP Performa Ltd is celebrating 25 years in business.

The employee-owned firm, located on Church Street, Hamilton, was founded in December 1992 and has been managing the assets of captive insurance companies ever since.

Hugh Barit, chairman and CEO of PRP Performa, believes he always had the entrepreneurial spirit.

“I knew I did not want to answer to anyone and I have always had the passion to open my own business,” Mr Barit said.

He completed high school and college in the US and started working for IBM in New York for five years.

“After working for IBM, I moved to Europe where I had the opportunity to learn about investment business. I was hired by a German investment firm and went on to live and work in Munich, Zurich and London and to learn this business,” he said.

When he returned to the island, he started working for Bobby Rans at Matuschka Rans Ltd on Front Street. Mr Barit was 28 years old.

He attributes his earlier success to his determination, hard work and a little bit of luck.

“I worked very hard to get where I am. Also having people who believed in me helped, with a little bit of luck,” Mr Barit said.

After working with Mr Rans, he branched out and formed PRP Performa. The catalyst for the firm’s growth, Mr Barit said, was the union it formed with Orbis Investment Management Ltd.

“Orbis manages $32 billion in assets. They are a very successful global equity investment firm and they run the equities for our clients,” Mr Barit said.

“We forged that partnership in 2002 and it has been beneficial for both firms.”

The arrangement has led to Performa taking care of asset allocation and fixed-income management for clients in house, while Orbis takes care of global equity investments.

The secret of Mr Barit’s success? Forming and keeping relationships, he said.

“It has been successful because we build personal relationships with our clients,” he said. “It’s not about a service provider but being a partner with your clients.

“Now, as a partner, you can get fired if you do a bad job, but that’s why it is important to build that relationship and it is what differentiates us from others.”

Maintaining good relationships with colleagues is also important.

“My employees are like a family, I have always said family comes first to them,” Mr Barit said.

“Working for a small firm is not for everyone, I have hired people before but the job hasn’t really worked out for them.

“If my staff has personal situations that come up and they need to take some time off, I advise them to go do it, just make the time up, get your job done.

“Some people just need to clock in at 9am and clock out at 5pm and have a list of to-dos from their employer.

“That’s not the kind of person we look for here, it’s someone who can manage their time, whom you can trust if you need to take some time off and know they’re not going to take advantage of that.”

Mr Barit, himself a Bermudian, also stressed that he has an all-Bermudian staff.

On November 1, Mr Barit will be hosting his 25-year client-appreciation event at his family home.

“We have over 100 people coming to my house to celebrate our 25 years,” he said. “Many of these people have become great friends — it makes the business that more fun when you have that relationship.”

Throwing the event in his own home rather than a restaurant makes it more intimate and personal, Mr Barit said.

“We have an old family property built in the early 1800s,” he said. “It’s the first Georgian-style house built in Bermuda, and I am fortunate to now be the current caretaker of it.

“My children talk about living there, carrying on the heritage and that means a great deal to me, so we have decided to have the celebration at the house,” he said.

“It’s very personal, inviting our clients to my home. It really exemplifies the fact that client relationships are what it’s all about.”

Quarter-century and counting: Hugh Barit, chairman and chief executive officer of Performa. The firm is celebrating 25 years of operation this year (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)