Fresh off its $225 million capital raise, alternative investments platform CAIS announced a new partnership with Focus Financial Partners to bring a customized version of its alternatives platform to Focus’ 84 partner firms.
Matt Brown, founder and CEO of CAIS, said this is his firm’s first enterprise-level customization at this scale, and he expects CAIS will continue to provide customized versions of the platform for other enterprises going forward.
“Alternatives has increasingly become an integral part of the asset allocation portfolio, especially as you start looking at high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth clients, which is where our partners mostly operate,” said Rajini Kodialam, co-founder and chief operating officer of Focus.
A subset of Focus partners have been using CAIS for over a decade, and these firms currently have approximately $30 billion on the platform, Brown said.
But those partners were looking for more streamlined and customized access to alternatives.
“It’s the entire lifecycle of finding and delivering alternatives as part of an integrated system which creates advisor efficiency, while increasing the client value proposition,” Kodialam.
CAIS has customized its platform down to the Focus partner level—the user experience is different for every firm.
“If you work for Colony Group and you log in to the CAIS platform or if you work for Strategic Wealth, those two journeys are going to be different based on what the needs of the firm are,” Brown said.
Further, each firm will be able to add its own sourced and identified funds onto the CAIS platform, and those funds will be available in a centralized location and get all the benefits of the technology, including automation, digitization and integrated reporting.
Some Focus firms, such as SCS Financial, are asset managers in their own right, and now will make their funds available to their partner firms. Focus also may have its own experts on alternative investments, and CAIS will provide a platform for them to educate others within the company and build a community.
Focus firms will also have access to CAIS IQ, the firm’s learning system, with content that will be tailored to each partner.
CAIS is also now able to meet the integration needs for each partner based on their vendor choices for reporting or custody.
“One firm may use Tamarac, one firm may use Addepar, one firm may use Orion. Based on where they are, we’ll integrate with all three of those firms,” Brown said. “We wanted to be able to create a platform that was flexible, customizable and personalized down to the advisor that met the unique needs of every single firm."
Focus has expanded internationally in recent years, with offices now in the U.K., Australia, Canada and the Asia Pacific region. Brown said he expects CAIS to expand internationally as well and bring the customized version of the platform to those markets. CAIS already has an office in Sydney, for instance.
CAIS recently announced it had raised $225 million in fresh capital, bringing the firm’s valuation to more than $1 billion. It will be using the latest funding to improve its client experience and eliminate administrative tasks for advisors, according to Shane Williams, chief technology officer at CAIS. It will also be adding to its technology team, which currently stands at 70 employees. Over the past year, CAIS saw its overall employee head count expand from 75 to 156 employees with plans to have more than 300 employees by the end of 2022.
CAIS works with more than 4,400 advisor firms/teams that have transacted over $15 billion in volume since its inception.