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June 9, 2014

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Tiger 21: Millionaires Helping MillionairesThis under-the-radar group aids super-rich people in coping with the problems of Glenn Hunter | Published 6.11.2012When banker Jody Grant and energy mogul Kelcy Warrenbegan exploring plans for Warren’s naming-rights gift towhat’s now Klyde Warren Park, the earliest discussions tookplace at Warren’s island-estate off Honduras, at a meetingof something called Tiger 21.

Both men are members of the Dallas chapter of Tiger 21,a little-known “peer-to-peer learning group” for ultrahigh-net-worth individuals. The group discreetly helps thesuper-rich preserve and grow their money and deal with theproblems that often accompany great wealth.

Founded in 1999 by New York real estate entrepreneurMichael Sonnenfeldt, Tiger 21-an acronym for TheInvestment Group for Enhanced Returns in the 21stCentury-has nearly 200 members in 18 chapters aroundthe country.

Members, who are carefully vetted with background andother checks, must have at least $10 million in investablenet worth. Preferably, it’s money they made themselves.They pay annual dues of $30,000 and meet once a monthto discuss such topics as philanthropy, family dynamics, estate planning, and new investment opportunities.

Periodically they also undergo something called a “portfolio defense,” where members open up their holdings to scrutiny-andsuggestions-by the whole group.

“High-net-worth individuals suffer from what I call isolation disease,” says Bill Case, a Plano-based mergers-and-acquisitionsspecialist who chairs the Dallas club. “They tend to live in good neighborhoods, with big gates and big doors. They sense thateverybody’s after them for something, and it’s hard to find peers.

“You can’t share this stuff at your country club,” Case goes on. “Some of the guys in the foursome may not have significant wealth.”

Tiger 21’s Dallas chapter, which was established in 2007 and is still the only outpost in Texas, includes several groups of 12 to 14members each. Although the membership rolls are not publicly disclosed, Case says, “you would know most all of them.” Mostmembers tend to be “behind the scenes,” he adds, “doing very important things with their resources.”

They represent industries such as insurance, banking, oil and gas, robotics, and private equity, Case says. Some are fifth- or sixthgenerationTexans. Monthly meetings last all day behind closed doors at tony spots like the Ritz-Carlton hotel or the Old Parklandcampus here, or at a luxury home in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

While most Tiger 21 members in Dallas stay under the radar, a few agreed to talk with D CEO for this story. One is Marvin E. Blum,an attorney with an estate-planning practice in Fort Worth. Blum says the membership’s expertise in various fields like medicine,art, and travel has been invaluable to him, as has the group’s investment advice. When he realized during the meetings that he was”overinvested in stocks,” Blum recalls, he diversified his portfolio with real-estate-mortgage instruments.

Another member of the Dallas group, Larry Mueller of Cuvee Ventures, a Denver-based private-equity fund that invests in highendresidences, says he most appreciates Tiger’s “very candid perspective” on financial issues, “without someone trying to sell yousomething.”

That appreciation is shared by Janet Jensen, another member of the Dallas chapter who made her fortune in private equity.”Money brings you a lot of nice things, but it’s a huge responsibility,” Jensen says. Tiger 21 “is a place where I can go where I feelsafe and really express what’s going on, and the other members will give me their best thoughts.”

Proving, it seems, that the 1 percent need TLC, too.