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Berkshire Money Management lands in Great Barrington for good, with a $1 million office

Allen Harris photo

Allen Harris, chief investment officer and CEO of Berkshire Money Management based in Dalton, is bullish on his south county clients. His company just purchased a $1 million building on Route 7 in Great Barrington to serve them.

GREAT BARRINGTON — Berkshire Money Management is showing it is bullish on its south county client base by purchasing a $1 million building at 72 Stockbridge Road.

Following some interior renovation, the former Berkshire Boxing Club building will be transformed into an office for the independent investment-advisory firm.

Since October 2021, the firm has operated a satellite office in rented space at 322 Main St. in Great Barrington.

It will continue to be headquartered at one of the old Crane mansions, Model Farm, a 29-acre estate at 161 Main St., Dalton. That property was purchased in 2017 for $1 million under the name Model Farm LLC.

Allen Harris, chief investment officer and CEO of Berkshire Money Management, said buying property in Great Barrington, under the name Carvergirl LLC, shouldn’t be viewed as a real estate investment.

“Did we overpay? Probably. Are we paying too much in interest rates? Probably,” he said. “So it’s really intended to be an investment in the clients of the Berkshires and the clients of Great Barrington.”

He added, “But we are going to need people” at the new site. With 18 people on the staff, including two full time in Great Barrington now, Harris expects some to commute from Dalton to Great Barrington.

He said the larger quarters on Route 7 will allow meetings with more than one client at a time.

Of Berkshire Money Management’s approximately 800 clients, about 320 live within 40 miles of Dalton, 48 in south county.

And while many clients don’t mind doing their business by phone or through virtual meetings, they tend to prefer their initial interactions to be face to face.

Clients who are second-home owners from New York City may need help navigating the estate-planning tax of Massachusetts as they decide to make their south county residences their primary homes, he said.

Harris, 50, grew up in Peru and Dalton, graduated from North Adams State College (now Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts) and later took statistics and economics courses at the University of Massachusetts.

He worked for the former Smith Barney (now Morgan Stanley) and met Scott Hotaling when the two worked at the former Dion Money Management.

Founded by Harris and Stacey Carver with Scott and Sheila Hotaling in 2001, Berkshire Money Management launched with a financial newsletter that eventually went to 16,000 paid subscribers. Berkshire Money Management offices were initially in Dalton in the attic of Carver’s father’s business, BETNR Construction, and later in Pittsfield. The Hotalings left the business within the first few years of its founding. Carver stayed as co-owner and chief engagement officer.

Harris said he sold that newsletter in about 2006. At that point, smartphones allowed investors to get up-to-the-minute information about the world of finance.

“We had an office in the Berkshires, because that’s where we wanted to live,” Harris said. “But our clients weren’t really in the area.”

In fact, there were just a few. About two years later, the stock market crashed, and Berkshire Money Management’s portfolios were “intact,” Harris said, attributing that healthy circumstance partly to luck and partly to “cool moves.”

“We had extra money,” Harris said, coming out of that crash. Not long after that, Harris attended a conference at which financial expert Mark Tibergien was the speaker.

Harris told Tibergien that his profit margin coming out of that crash was 51 percent.

Tibergien challenged him.

“‘Why would you do that?’” Harris recalls Tibergien’s response. “‘You’re not going to grow if you’re holding on to this cash … and just serving the clients you have.’”

So Harris pursued clients in Berkshire County. According to its latest regulatory filing, Berkshire Money Management has 260 high net-worth clients with more than $635 million in assets under management. In addition, it has 470 clients of lower net-worth, with more than $177 million under management. Its total assets under management are more than $853 million representing a total of 1,924 accounts.

“I love Dalton. I grew up in Dalton and we’ve got great clients that are here,” Harris said. “But the second-home owners are moving into Great Barrington … or Lenox. … And for us to reach the people that we can help the most, it makes sense for us to be closer to them.”

Jane Kaufman is Community Voices Editor at The Berkshire Eagle. She can be reached at jkaufman@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6125.

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