May brings the 10th annual IA 25 (well, ninth if you don’t count our special 30th anniversary edition, “Thirty for Thirty,” in 2010), Investment Advisor’s editors’ pick of the 25 most influential people in the industry. Over the years, we’ve named people to the list for good influences, as well as bad, but ultimately, we feel everyone listed here will change the way advisors do business in some way.
This year includes some new faces and a few familiar ones. Unfortunately, print constraints being what they are, we were forced to cut—a lot—from the profiles in the magazine to fit everyone in. So, we’ll be publishing extended profiles online over the rest of April and through May. Click here to see a schedule of special IA 25 coverage.
Also in this issue, Savita Iyer-Ahrestani asks, “Is Russia another Arab Spring in the making?” She speaks with several experts on Russia to find out how political movements there are affecting the Russian investing landscape.
Plus, Bob Seawright explains why passively managed products have robbed active managers of market share and what they need to do to get it back. “Successful active management demands bravery,” he says.
Finally, Timothy Welsh of Nexus Strategy explains why advisors need to invest in technology now in order to take advantage of the tremendous return on investment it will provide.
Click through the following pages to see the May 2012 features. Click here to view the entire magazine.
Some people ride a wave, and some people create a wave. Elliot Weissbluth of HighTower is a creator and has changed the conversation on and about Wall Street and the role of advisors. His backers at the Chicago-based firm founded five years ago believed in his vision, and the many top wirehouse brokers who have bought into the HighTower approach have validated that vision.
It’s a simple approach: Clients can benefit from the intellectual capital of the biggest firms on the Street while being served under a strict fiduciary mantle. Those ex-wirehouse brokers benefit from HighTower’s growing scale and ability to force everyone from bond trading desks to RIA custodians to compete for their business. They also benefit from being part of an elite peer group that has input on who else can join the partnership, while retaining the independence to run their own specific practices in their own way.
“The old dialogue,” Weissbluth tells Group Editor-in-Chief James J. Green, “which was ‘independent good; Wall Street bad,’ was never an intellectually honest discussion. There’s tremendous value and innovation on Wall Street.”
Historically, advisors have underinvested in technology because they could afford to. For the last couple of decades, advisors have benefited from a general upward march of the markets, which translated into a nice annual raise based on an asset management fee. This “hidden subsidy” weakened management discipline, fostered manual processes and created larger operational footprints than are currently sustainable.
With today’s volatile markets and wirehouses shrinking themselves, combined with an onslaught of baby boomers just beginning to retire, the demand for independent advice has never been greater. Timothy Welsh, president and founder of Nexus Strategy, shares what advisors can do to get the most out of their technology dollar.
When a tearful Vladimir Putin accepted the Russian presidency in early March, his political opponents, who had endorsed the view that his victory was fraudulently won, were confident that the protests that began after a disputed parliamentary election in December were not a flash in the pan.
Russia and Russians were angry, they said, fed up of the allegedly undemocratic ways in which their politics have been run. They wanted change, they would fight for change, and they would continue to protest until they got the changes they sought.
Is Russia another Arab Spring in the making? Despite the serious political awakening that the Russian population is experiencing, most pundits and analysts have said no. But there’s no denying that political risk has become the No. 1 concern for anyone investing in Russia, undoubtedly leading some to cut back on their exposure to one of the largest emerging markets in the world. Savita Iyer-Ahrestani discusses this and other concerns with several experts on Russia.
Calling First Eagle Funds an “overlooked manager” is a bit like calling Warren Buffett poor or Bill Gross pedestrian; it just doesn’t fit. But how much do you really know about First Eagle Funds? Sure, it’s racked up fantastic performance and given us legendary investors like Jean-Marie Eveillard, but its history is just as fascinating, and the tradition in which it’s steeped is a big part of its success.
John Arnhold, First Eagle Investment Management’s chairman and CIO, is a scion of the family that started the firm in Dresden, Germany, in 1864. It’s quite a tale, and Arnhold sat down with Editor-in-Chief John Sullivan to explain it, along with the firm’s interest in Japan (post-natural disaster, as well as long before) and why alpha is simply a Greek letter.
When it comes to marketing financial services, it’s a numbers game. Getting the message to more people means more contacts, more prospecting meetings, more clients—or so the conventional wisdom goes. There’s a hidden number in that equation, however, that many advisors don’t consider—the number of hours spent following up and meeting with prospects who, for whatever reason, aren’t a right fit for the advisor’s practice.
Many advisors view marketing as casting a net. The bigger and more finely woven the net, the better, because fewer prospects escape. The problem with a big, tightly knit net is that it will indeed catch everything: those high-net-worth big fish, medium and smaller fish, along with tires, tin cans and weeds. The best advisor marketing nets actually need big holes in them – holes that let all the undesirable junk fall through and hold on to just the big fish. Natalie Hadley, corporate communications manager for Securities America Inc., explains how to get your net just the right size.
Paul Samuelson issued his famous “Challenge to Judgment” in 1974 urging money managers to show whether they could consistently beat market averages. Those who couldn’t, Samuelson argued, should simply go out of business.
Unable (or unwilling) generally to meet Samuelson’s challenge, active managers have steadily ceded market share to passive-style investment vehicles ever since. Although the idea took root slowly, passively managed funds now control in excess of 25% of all domestic equity fund assets. Bob Seawright explains how managers can work to take back that market share without taking on excessive levels of risk.
To help advisors gain a competitive edge by confidently embracing their leadership roles, Commonwealth Financial Network launched Power in Practice, a year-long business coaching program. In this first of a four-article series, Joni Youngwirth follows a group of advisors as they embark on the 2012 Power in Practice program, sharing key lessons and insights they pick up along the way.