Millionaires-only R360 club ‘filters out’ the ‘wrong people’

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Sometimes, even being rich isn’t enough to buy you what you want.

“Letting in the wrong people is the type of thing that will bring down a community,” said Charles Garcia, co-founder of R360, a new social and investing club for millionaires that makes Soho House look as easy to join as the Boy Scouts. 

The year-old private group is aimed at anyone with assets of at least $100 million; the sign-up fee alone costs $180,000 (although that does include three years’ worth of membership). But good luck getting accepted.

While there are plenty of people who qualify on paper — more than 20,000 families in America have wealth of that level — prospective Bond villains need not apply; only those with clean cash and a sense of higher purpose will squeak past the approval committee.
 
Take the cashed-up applicant who was turned down because his family wasn’t motivated to join him in pivoting away from frittering money on luxuries. Or the one who was 86’d because it was clear he viewed R360 as a chance to network and sell his investment services.

Pearl Katz feels like's with like-minded people, being in the R360 group.
Pearl Baker Katz likes that she can talk to fellow R360 members “about exactly how much money I have.”
Provided by Pearl Katz

“We filter out those folks pretty aggressively,” Garcia, 60, told The Post. “This is a conflict-free zone.”

Member Pearl Baker Katz said it’s a relief to be among people who understand the peculiarities of being rich.

“I can have a conversation about exactly how much money I have, which you can’t have with most people out in the world. It’s a community,” said the 57-year-old, who winters with her husband, Marcus, on Fisher Island in Miami Beach, and summers in San Diego. Her fortune derives from the student loan business she founded by borrowing a million bucks from her then-boyfriend, which she parlayed into a company worth $144 million when she sold it in 2009. That was enough for her to retire at just 44.

Of course, for members like Baker Katz, R360 does offer advice on how to invest — it would be a waste not to pool that brain trust — but this isn’t some cookie-cutter stock tip service. The club acts as an elite mashup of therapist, concierge and financial adviser. It can even offer unexpected benefits — like a date.

Co-founder Garcia said that wealthy straight women in particular still often struggle with a stigma around being the breadwinner. “We have several situations where [the woman making more money] led to a divorce,” he noted. Then, “when women are divorced and have a lot of wealth, all they’re looking for is a really nice person to share their life with, but they have a lot of trouble as men get very intimidated.”

In fact, it’s such a topic of discussion that Garcia is mulling a “thoughtful program around it” for 2022 as part of R360’s official remit.

Garcia, who is himself married to wife Christina, 50, with whom he has four kids, is a former US intelligence officer who ended up filthy rich after switching careers to wealth management and selling his company, Sterling Financial, in the late 1990s.

"More Than Money" by Michael Cole, co-founder of elite club R360.
Members are given the guidebook “More Than Money” by R360 co-founder Michael Cole.
Bloomberg Press

He ginned up the idea for R360 while studying on the venture incubation program at Harvard. What was missing, he wondered, for wealthy folks like him that existing informal groups didn’t offer?

Garcia had personally been involved with the efforts of Tiger 21, a “high net worth peer group” with much the same stated mission as R360, but wondered how it could be improved. So R360 offers what Garcia calls “an oasis for strategic wealth creators and their families to flourish.” For one thing, existing groups weren’t exclusive enough: Tiger’s annual member fees are just $30,000 and you only need $10 million in assets to squeak in. So he jacked up the fees, thereby shrinking the pool.

Every member receives a book that’s effectively the club’s manual: “More than Money,” by Garcia’s co-founder Michael Cole, onetime president of Merrill Lynch Trust. It offers a roadmap to deploying your wealth constructively on more than just fast cars and big mansions, so that the wealth lasts for more than three generations. It’s a holistic approach, encouraging the rich to think about things like human capital (Does your family have a defined purpose?) as well as social (What role do you play in the community?).

The name R360 is a nod to its higher calling, too — it stands for Raziel, the all-knowing angel from Jewish mysticism.

“He stands at the right hand of God, writing everything in the Book of Secrets, the everyday choices you make that lead you to the light or the darkness,” Garcia said.
 
There’s no physical clubhouse, but members come together 10 times per year in different locales, lured by a roster of blue-chip speakers, including Harvard professors and best-selling authors such as addict-turned-ultra-marathoner Charlie Engle and longevity researcher Dr. David Sinclair.

Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands.
Members have enjoyed a retreat to Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands.
Ingrid Abery/Shutterstock

The club’s roster is limited to 500 total members stateside and 500 abroad, who join solely by invitation or recommendation — but, so far, only 60 ultra wealthy folks have passed Garcia’s muster. Of them, 48 are partners in the group, having each invested
$350,000 for a 1.25 percent stake of the for-profit corporation.

Baker Katz is one of those founders. “It’s a safe space I can go to, and get help on anything I need in life, because we’re mentoring each other,” she said, noting that it was R360 connections that have helped her finesse plans for Deerhaven Gardens, the women’s rehab treatment facility she’s opening in North Carolina in January, having converting one of her luxury homes expressly for the purpose.

But she stresses that it isn’t all worthy do-gooding when you’re hanging with the R360 crew — there’s plenty of living the good life, too.

 Richard Branson
Garcia compares himself to Richard Branson (above).
Ingrid Abery/Shutterstock

“For me, it’s like having my own board of directors for my life,” she said, noting one of the membership bonuses was a trip to Richard Branson’s Necker Island. (“Every year, we do something with [Branson],” Garcia said.)
 
Those perks are another key benefit to ponying up to join. Regular rich people might have a Platinum Amex, or a Chase Sapphire card, but billionaires bank on R360 to act, at times, as a therapist, concierge, and insurance company as well as a private club. If you have a family office — billionaire speak for being rich enough to need an LLC to manage your life — there is gratis access to software essential for assessing investments.

As a welcome gift, R360 will arrange for a ghostwriter to document a new member’s life in a 200-page hardcover book. There’s cyber insurance overseen by the FBI’s former cyber head: Hit a panic button on your phone and you’ll get a response within 15-20 seconds anywhere in the world.

Break your back scuba diving in Bora Bora and the problem’s too complex for local doctors? Global Guardian, a 24/7 worldwide security firm, has more than 50 air ambulances at members’ disposal.

Global Guardian website.
Among the club’s perks is access to Global Guardian, a security firm that can rescue members should they fall ill anywhere in the world.
Global Guardian

“It makes it seem like a bargain, so we [are] very choosy with who we let in,” Garcia
explained. 

He also holds himself to pretty lofty goals. “I’m very similar to [Branson],” he said. “I spend a third of my time on investments, one-third on the things I’m passionate about, and one-third using my God-given gifts for the benefit of humanity.”
 

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