Market volatility and political uncertainty—how many times have we heard that answer to the question, “What are advisors’ biggest concerns?” A lot, but it was Will Clemens’ follow-up that caught us off guard.
“These are smart people, and the investment management business is a good business,” Clemens, CEO of Zephyr Associates, said. “They’ll figure out a way to make it work and be successful; they just have to know the math. With all the volatility and uncertainty, they’re understandably anxious, which is why vendors need to step it up and work that much harder.”
And “step it up” he has. Since taking over the research and analysis division in January 2010, Clemens has doubled the size of the firm’s support and consulting staff. More surprisingly, it’s not as if Zephyr’s growth exactly warranted such a move.
“Business has been good—not great—for a lot of our customers,” he noted. “It has a ripple effect. But as a boutique service provider, it’s at a time like this that I want to provide even better service and differentiation.”
Zephyr was founded in 1994 and is headquartered in Zephyr Cove, Nev. (how cool is that?), with additional offices in Memphis, New York and London. The RIA market currently comprises 16% of their total clientele and is their fastest growing segment. Clemens took time to speak with Investment Advisor about the firm, its offerings and the benefits of providing more with less.
Let’s start with the obvious question; what makes your research and analysis tools different from the gazillion other providers out there?
Let me start by saying there are no perfect research and analysis tools available. Each has their strengths and areas of specialization. What we offer are tools that can be customized so the advisor “can do it their way.” Secondly, they can choose the source of the data they’re using. For instance, if they have a trusted source for mutual funds, but a different source for hedge funds—heck, even for something like art collections—if they’re able to be monetized, they can incorporate all those data sources. So those two factors really set us apart.