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Curian Closure Has Rivals Ready to Strike

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Curian Capital is closing early next year, a move that has rival asset managers eagerly inviting investors and advisors into their offices.

The Denver-based provider of turnkey asset management programs (or TAMPs) is owned by Prudential PLC (PUK) and has been run as a unit of Jackson National Life Insurance. Last year, Prudential said it had about $12 billion in client assets and a loss of about $27 million.

The decision to stop taking on new clients as of July 31 and leave the business entirely on March 31, 2016, has shocked some industry players, including one that hopes to attract Curian clients to its own TAMP.

“Nobody has ever seen anything like this in their careers,” said EQIS Capital CEO Scott Winters, in an interview with ThinkAdvisor. “The idea is that there are lots of clients and investors that are scared right now, and we are here to support them and ease that transition in any way that we can.”

EQIS is headquartered in San Raphael, California, and has about $1.3 billion in assets and 14,000 clients. It specializes in helping investors buy fractional shares of stocks in separately managed accounts with a $25,000 minimum.

“Curian has always been our closest competitor in term of functionality, and we always admired their commitment to separately managed accounts and being able to serve the mass affluent investor,” Winters explained in a statement.

The executive says EQIS is spreading the word that it is “the natural fit for any client or advisor who wants to move their assets,” and it has “put together a transition team to ease the process for both advisors and investors.”

Naturally, other players in the asset management field are reaching out to Curian’s advisor and investor clients, too – such as Folio Institutional and Loring Ward.

“The offering that Curian brought to the table, which utilized the Folio concept, was a forward-thinking and frontier approach,” said Steven M.H. Wallman, founder and CEO of Folio Investing, in a statement on Monday. “Folio, with its advanced technology, is the obvious alternative today, and we want advisors who are interested in continuing to apply this pioneering approach to know that they have a home here.”

Alex Potts, president and CEO of Loring Ward, explained in a statement: “The most important thing in this situation is taking care of advisors and their clients. To this end, Loring Ward is making our Regional Team available to provide support to any advisor who is trying to work through the issues involved – or who simply needs a sounding board during this challenging time.” 

Curian opened 12 years ago, when the competitive landscape and market trends “favorably supported the business,” according to Mark Mandich, Curian’s interim president and CEO.

“Given the industrywide changes in technology, product offerings and market size, Curian has determined that it is no longer commercially positioned to provide clients high-value investment programs over the long term,” he said in a statement last week. “This was a difficult decision. We appreciate the loyalty of our clients, business partners and staff and remain committed to assisting them throughout this transition.”

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