Advisors may see alternative investments as tools to diversify client portfolios or as a way to attract high-net-worth clients looking for more sophisticated investment strategies. Yet adding alternative investments can be difficult. Custodians may not offer the type of streamlined or cost-effective solutions that make it viable for advisors to add alternative allocations to clients’ portfolios.
That’s why J.P. Dahdah came up with ALTS Forum, a gathering of likeminded financial industry specialists who discuss challenges and solutions in the alternatives space. “I realized we couldn’t address all the problems we were seeing on our own,” says Dahdah, CEO of Vantage Retirement Plans, a boutique alternative investment custody service. “We needed the heads of other companies to come together to discuss industry issues, share experiences and brainstorm for different solutions.”
With members that include an RIA, a securities attorney and a fintech company, the ALTS Forum meets once a month, alternating between locations in Arizona and California, where the companies are based.
One of the biggest pain points the group works to address is the fragmentation of alternative distribution that makes them difficult to manage, says Dahdah. The members share their varied expertise to find ways to eliminate frictions that exist with the purchasing, selling, and transacting of alternative investments. They hope to make the process less onerous so more advisors can take advantage of alternative options. At the same time, they want to find ways to educate people about the risks, real and perceived, posed by alternative investments.
“I think that right now we’re in a really exciting moment in the alternative asset industry where a lot of advisors are curious about them,” Dahdah says. “A lot of advisors are curious, and we want to help educate them and normalize the use of alternatives.”