The headline is intriguing, if a bit misleading, and the folks at Curian Capital LLC who make the claim are quick to point out that providing such a low-minimum entr?e into separately managed accounts is only part of what they have to offer advisors. The company’s management–including James Vitalie, executive VP of strategic planning (formerly Foliofn Institutional president), and Allan Chiulli, executive VP of marketing and research (formerly of Jackson National Life’s National Planning Holdings)–doesn’t claim that the firm is interested solely in small advisors. They present Curian primarily as a way for commission-based advisors to ease the pain of transitioning to a fee-based compensation model, while providing the diversification, customization, and tax efficiencies of separate accounts.
A subsidiary of Prudential plc, the U.K. insurer and bank (no relation to Prudential of the U.S.), Denver-based Curian began offering in March a $25,000 minimum investment separate account program, a Web-based product that provides access to 10 to 20 style-specific managers per account, and can accommodate more than 500 individual securities. While access to Curian’s Custom Style Portfolios (CSPs) starts at $25,000, much larger accounts are, of course, accommodated and encouraged, using fractionalized shares of up to 1/100,000th of a share. The company is self-clearing.
A demo of Curian’s offering showcased an all-electronic investment and reporting platform (called WebFlow) that is highly customizable and easy to use. The simplicity comes from its straightforward Web interface: since all the “paperwork” stays electronic, accounts can be opened in as little as 24 hours, the company says. The customization comes in several ways. In setting up separate accounts, for instance, the client can make social exclusions of types of stocks and can exclude specific equities. The platform also performs online tax lot monitoring and accounting. There is online support, and a support center staffed by humans that’s open 11 hours a day. WebFlow provides an online proposal generator, compliance monitor, and electronic filing.