Robert Wolf, 32 Advisors, Measure

Robert Wolf


Business Advice

Editors’ Note

Prior to forming 32 Advisors, Robert Wolf spent 18 years at UBS where he held several senior positions including Global Head of Fixed Income, Group Regional CEO and Chairman, and President and Chief Operating Officer of the Investment Bank. He joined UBS in 1994 after spending approximately 10 years at Salomon Brothers in Fixed Income Sales and Trading. In addition to his role at 32 Advisors, Wolf is a member of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. From 2009 to 2011, he was a member of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. He serves on the Undergraduate Executive Board of the Wharton School and on the Athletic Board of Overseers at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as on the boards of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, the Partnership for New York City, and the Children’s Aid Society. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy. Wolf graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Economics in 1984.

Company Brief

32 Advisors (32advisors.com) is a boutique consulting and advisory firm serving public and private companies, hedge funds, private equity firms, money managers, governments, and other institutions.

What was your vision for creating 32 Advisors?

It was clear to me that there were business opportunities in the marketplace that were exciting and quite different from what I had been focused on during my near 30 years on Wall Street. I began to recognize gaps in areas such as infrastructure, inbound investment, and exports. For example, the U.S. share of annual global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows fell by more than half between 1999 and 2012. While the U.S. has recently reclaimed the top spot as the leading destination for FDI, it is now competing head on with the likes of China, Canada, and Mexico. In addition, while U.S. exports have increased, they represent a lower percentage of GDP than those of other developed economies.

These gaps provided our firm with opportunities to support organizations facing cross-border development roadblocks with highly tailored advice. In addition to these business opportunities, I felt that 32 Advisors would help create jobs and bolster the U.S. economy.

Would you provide an overview of your services and how these service areas have evolved?

After coming up with two bookends centered on FDI and exports, our advisory services have grown systematically. 32 Advisors has developed into a cross-border business advisory firm, providing services in three strategic areas: global market access, international trade and project finance, and strategic intelligence. Under the broader umbrella of global market access, our product offering entails U.S. inbound investment advisory, international investment and expansion support, and strategy and business development. The International Trade & Project Finance team at 32 Advisors focuses on export finance, private capital raising, and project and infrastructure finance. Our Strategic Intelligence offering includes economic and public policy advisory, strategic communications, and drone advisory.

We have evolved over the past year by increasing advisory services that support and facilitate cross-border business. When one looks at our business as a whole, it is clear we are well-positioned as a team to advise sovereigns, especially in emerging countries and new democracies, who are looking to develop and put in place key infrastructure and public/private partnerships to enhance economic growth and reduce poverty.

Do you anticipate increasing your service offerings and are there natural extensions for the firm?

We are actively looking to augment the number of product offerings we provide and we have added principals based outside of the United States to increase our geographic reach. We would like to continue to expand internationally.

We recently added Measure, a 32 Advisors Company, which is our turnkey drone advisory business that provides a truly game-changing service for industrial and commercial businesses. Measure’s value to clients includes two components: the Advisory component provides consulting services to help our clients understand drone technology, map out specific uses, select the best aircraft and cameras produced by more than 1,000 manufacturers worldwide, and realize the benefits of aerial imagery; and our Drone as a Service® offering provides turnkey operational services so drones are airborne for clients as-needed and on-demand. We are not drone manufacturers or software providers and, thus, our interests are aligned with those of our clients who pay for what they need, when they need it, without having to make large capital investments.

Where will the growth come from for 32 Advisors?

We are working very closely with private companies, NGOs, and sovereigns in several sub-Saharan African countries. In particular, there is great opportunity in project finance deals supporting infrastructure, telecommunications, and energy. In our drone advisory work, we are seeing nonstop demand in areas such as precision agriculture, power and energy, border and facility security, and wildlife anti-poaching.

I recently attended the President’s U.S.-Africa Summit held in conjunction with the Commerce Department and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the enthusiasm in the room for private investment into Africa was just incredible.

Would you highlight the global expertise and reach of the firm?

Our senior professionals have transacted billions of dollars of deals in more than 60 countries. We are comprised of business and public sector leaders with many years of senior level experience in Washington, on Wall Street, and around the globe. Our clients consist of domestic and international corporations, public entities, governments, financial services firms, and high-growth businesses.

You have assembled a seasoned group of executives at 32 Advisors. How critical has this been to the growth and success of the firm?

We have highly respected leaders at 32 Advisors, ranging from former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, Austan Goolsbee; to former Founding Executive Director of SelectUSA, Barry Johnson; to former Export-Import Bank executives Kevin Varney and John Schuster, and so on, and their expertise is indispensable to our firm. Much of our work is cross-functional, and in many instances, our principals work collaboratively. This enables 32 Advisors to bring our experience and know-how to bear on challenging problems in a more holistic fashion.

What are your key priorities for 32 Advisors as you look to the future?

I am very excited by what lies ahead for 32 Advisors, but there is always more work to be done and never enough time in the day. We are just over a year-and-a-half old now, and we are very focused on strengthening our presence in key geographic regions and remaining a respected firm by only doing business that we would be comfortable reading about.