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Knights of Columbus Launches Investment Advisor Program

The Catholic fraternal service organization will bring its investment strategies to individual retail clients for the first time.

The asset management division of Knights of Columbus, the Catholic fraternal service organization dating back to 1882, has launched a new investment advisor representative program seeded with about 100 advisors from its existing insurance business. The program has $28 million in assets so far, but the firm expects that to grow to $300 million by this time next year.

Advisors come under the firm’s existing RIA, Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors (KoCAA), which currently manages about $30 billion in assets for institutional clients. Up until 2015, the RIA managed assets solely for its parent company, but expanded in 2015 to serve institutional investors. Now, the firm will bring its investment strategies and advice to individual retail clients for the first time.

Knights of Columbus decided to launch the IA program out of demand from existing insurance clients for help with investments and charitable giving. The firm has over 1,000 insurance agents, said Thom Duffy, vice president of investment strategy at KoCAA.

“We’re taking these folks who already have financial backgrounds, who are already working directly with clients and understand their financial circumstances and now rolling in not just protection with insurance but the growth opportunities available with investments,” Duffy said.

While the asset size of the unit is still relatively small, the firm is bringing in $2 million a week in new assets, and advisors have an average account size of over $150,000. They currently have advisors in 33 states, but Duffy expects to reach 200 advisors in all 50 states and the District of Columbia by year-end. AssetMark serves as the RIA’s custodian.

The program does not currently have an aggressive recruiting campaign. Duffy expects growth to come primarily through the insurance business. All of its current advisors are Catholic, since that is the clientele they serve, but the firm is open to bringing on non-Catholic advisors.

“If other folks came to us and said, ‘I’d like to be an advisor,’ we’re happy to entertain that. But, obviously, our niche is the Catholic niche, so somebody who is going to work in that environment would have to appreciate and be able to connect with clients at that level,” Duffy said.

The firm has a lineup of nine mutual funds and 85 model portfolios, which invest with Catholic values. That means all of its investments comply with United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) guidelines.

“Everything the bishops say is not suitable for investment—we don’t invest in it. Conversely anything they don’t put out of bounds is something we would consider,” Duffy said.

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