Wirehouses are known to have significant support staff full of alternative investment account managers, sales desks, trade teams and other customer support crews. When breaking away from the wirehouse, becoming the CEO of your own advisory firm can be quite an adjustment.
If you’re like many advisors who utilize alternative investments, sourcing a strategic partner with experience managing the minutia of running an RIA practice can provide the foundation for long term success. They can help you select a breed of alternative investment platforms, integrated technology and more.
The Importance of Integrated Technology
Almost 40% of RIAs use alternative investments. In 2017, the total worldwide capital invested in alternative assets totaled over $9 trillion. Since many of these investment options are diffused and each is unique, integrated technology solutions such as SAF Platform, iCapital, PPB Capital Partners, and CAIS are beginning to play an increasingly larger role in the RIA office space — and for good reason.
There are many technology platforms designed to help independent-minded financial advisors streamline the process. For example, SAF Platform has an agreement with Rocaton whereby SAF provides the integrated technology solution and Rocaton is the alternative investment idea creator and due diligence platform. No two alternative investment platforms are exactly alike, and it’s recommended advisors consult with an expert to seek out the best resources to meet their individual needs.
Through centralized, custom fund menus, integrated technology platforms significantly improve a firm’s technology’s ease of use. Many of these platforms differentiate taxable and tax-exempt options, provide investment workflows and manage digital subscriptions.
The support available through integrated technology management platforms is an invaluable tool for any independent RIA with a penchant for alternative investments.
What Alternative-Focused Advisors Want When Going Independent
One item that advisors focus on when going independent is the ability to map over their assets. Sure, you can move those funds to a custodian or—if you absolutely have to—split the rewards with a broker-dealer. However, those options become incredibly difficult when dealing with proprietary wirehouse assets.
SAF, Altegris and other integrated management platforms help streamline that process. For example, SAF provides a paperless process to maximize the ease of use during the distribution and contribution management process. Other benefits include covering trails, communication with current managers and the ability to access a greater number of alternative investments.
This appeals to advisors for many reasons, including that the transitioning process for alternatives is typically better prioritized by a cloud-based management platform like SAF than by standard wirehouse tools.
Finding the right integrated management platform is key for breakaway advisors. It’s important to have a reliable partner who is not going to use their platform to push their own products on you.
That means selecting a platform that isn’t just a “placement agency veiled as a technology firm.” You might be looking for an ACATS equivalent to manage legacy alternative investments, or some kind of software to manage future investments when making the move to independence.
Whatever the reason you began your search for integrated technology solutions, the acquisition of new assets is secondary to the need for management technology.
Types of Integrated Management Technology Funds
There are two kinds of fund structures to consider: Direct investments and feeder funds.
Direct investments involve the RIA sourcing funds suitable for their clients. If the investor meets the accredited investment standards, the RIA is then able to purchase that fund. Direct investments in a limited partnership (LP) typically have higher minimum purchase amounts. One of the main reasons an advisor would opt into this structure is the fund may not be available as a feeder fund or master fund structure.
By contrast, feeder funds, often a LP, tend to be more efficient because it pools capital commitments of investors and “feeds” such a capital into a master fund which can have minimums as low as $50k. The master fund is tied to administrative technology which oversees and allocates the money. For example, if a wirehouse provides access only to the direct investment with a high minimum, the equivalent feeder may take a large piece of that and allocate it out to multiple $50k minimum investors. Those same investors might not have access to the direct fund because of the high minimums which can come out to be millions of dollars.
In theory, while it seems the feeder fund structure could be more complicated than direct investments into large LPs, the integrated technology provided through SAF Platform, iCapital, PPB Capital Partners and others, demonstrate this is not the case.
What To Do Now
Whether you’ve just started thinking about independence or you’ve already made the jump, now is the best time to start looking for an integrated technology solution that is the right fit for your RIA. Through the use of these smart asset management technologies, your firm stands to gain improved operational capabilities. The move to independence can seem daunting at times, but with the right partner to help you manage the minutia and recommend the best technology platforms, your firm will flourish.