June 10, 2013

Loring Ward Hosts ‘Anti-Product’ Event

The asset manager shares stories on business building, creativity and more at recent conference

Asset manager Loring Ward likes to focus on helping advisors with softer issues, says President and CEO Alex Potts. It did so at its June conference, which wrapped up Thursday in Monterrey, Calif., and it’s engaging in such conference to grow its new (non-turnkey) business.

“It’s an anti-product conference,” Potts (left) said in an interview with AdvisorOne, “with no big banners and no formal sponsors.”

Motivational speaker Juliet Funt, for instance, discussed the important of white space. “You have to block out creative time, shut off your gadgets and deliberately create space rather than give in to cognitive overload from technology and information flows,” he said.

There were also talks on getting referrals, understanding and changing habits. “We were told by one expert that it’s best to communicate with client when something is cold rather than wait until it gets to be a hot topic—like risk tolerance,” Potts said.

The turnkey asset management provider (or TAMP) works with about 850 RIAs and other independent registered reps that rely on Loring Ward portfolios, which are included in platforms used by their “neutral custodians,” such as Fidelity, Pershing (BK), Schwab (SCHW) and TD Ameritrade (AMTD). These relationships represent about $7.7 billion in the client assets managed by the San Jose-based TAMP, Potts explains.

Loring Ward also is expanding its work as a strategist for 800 or other advisors affiliated with independent broker-dealers like Royal Alliance and Securities America. This represents nearly $1 billion in client assets under management for the asset manager.

“This new business is growing rapidly,” said Potts. “It’s for reps who, for example, are moving to a [purely] fee-based business and want help with trading, investment methodology, marketing materials, goal planning and other work [involving] behavioral finance and managing client relationships.”

Dimensional Fund Advisors is Loring Ward’s main asset-class provider, and the relationship goes back to 1990. DFA is looking to add a profitability screen to some of its asset-class-based portfolios, and the 80 financial advisors attending the recent Loring Ward confab got the chance to hash out portfolio issues like risks vs. rewards in person with DFA Co-CEO Eduardo Repetto.

Potts says that the asset manager will share more academic research with advisors at its October conference. “This will be heavy on investment topics and will also include talks on working more with CPAs and estate attorneys,” he said. “The aim is to help advisors do a better job at running their businesses.”

Loring Ward tries to do as much of the heavy lifting of portfolio management as it can for advisors. “We are in the efficient-market camp, so we don’t worry about the next hot manager or what the currently hot manager is doing. This frees us up to take care of clients rather than simply focus on performance.”

That focus, Potts says, should help the asset manager expand its new business while aiding advisors in their quest to do the same. “It’s all about helping advisors with research on investments, growing the business side of their practice or, even better, managing their lives," he said. "We bring resources to them.”

Advisors have a big need for such resources, Potts adds, because they “want simplicity.” Maybe they’ve been mainly selling one line of mutual funds for a while and want to branch out. “We become an adjunct to that,” he noted.  

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