Burney Company, a $2.4 billion AUM registered investment advisory firm in based in Reston, Va., is adding Goldman Sachs Advisor Solutions as a custodian to access the firm’s alternative investment platform and take advantage of their customized service model.
GSAS will become one of multiple custodians supporting Burney, which has provided proprietary, quantitative equity investment strategies to individual and institutional clients since 1974, as Burney continues an expansion into other asset classes.
“We run active strategies,” said Burney President and Chair Lowell Pratt Jr. “We put a lot of value on the intel that makes those strategies work and have a lot of resources that we pull in but, with Goldman, we gain access to really the mother lode of intel for all the other asset classes, as well as the equities.
“We’re going to find ways to incorporate their analyst inputs into our regular process and then, beyond that, we are embracing alternatives,” he said. “Our base model would be an allocation model of 60/20/20. Alts have made a really big difference for us for the past several years, and that's with somewhat limited ability to go after the best ones. With Goldman, the door becomes wide open in terms of what we can pursue in terms of alt opportunities.”
Burney has already begun bringing clients with more sophisticated asset allocation and diversification needs onto the GSAS platform, in a transition process that has been mostly digital.
“We work with pretty much all the custodians, so we have a perspective of what to expect at each place,” said Pratt. “This is as streamlined as any of the onboarding processes I’ve seen.”
“We’ve approached this almost from a subtractive mindset,” explained GSAS Managing Director Richard Lofgren. “And it really was about leveraging digital technologies because it’s critically important to open all those accounts accurately, but the less time an advisor can spend with a yellow highlighter and ‘sign here’ tabs, probably the better.
“So, we’ve taken some of that pain out of it and increased efficiency to allow Burney advisors to have better conversations about why and what’s possible,” he said. “And less about, ‘I need you to sign here, here and here.”
Lofgren declined to divulge how many firms have transitioned to the GSAS platform since it launched in the fall of 2020 with the acquisition of Folio Financial, other than to say “a lot.” Onboarding of new clients happened slowly and quietly at first, but Goldman has added no less than five firms to the platform since April, including Modern Wealth Management, Ashton Thomas Private Wealth, Prime Capital Investment Advisors, Sargent Investment Group and Creative Planning.
“What we’re seeing is a consistent drumbeat of advisors who are realizing that as their clients’ wealth is growing, they’re requiring different things, different approaches, perhaps a more robust platform or taking advantage of new investments that are out there in the marketplace,” he said. “And firms like Burney are realizing there’s a different way to do things.”
Founded by Brig. General John C. Burney, a pioneer in quantitative equity management, Burney Company has expanded its organizational model to include Burney Asset Management, which runs the proprietary quant process for the active equity part of the business; Burney Wealth Management, which provides comprehensive wealth management; and Burney Advisor Services, offering investment strategies as an outsourced service.
The firm is owned by Pratt and six other working partners, employing a team of around 40 professionals managing close to $2.5 billion for fewer than 2,000 clients, according to a Form ADV filed in late March, including an investment company, 15 corporations, a handful each of retirement plan providers and charitable organizations and almost 900 ultra-wealthy individuals.
Focused on organic growth, Burney isn’t pursuing M&A opportunities any time soon, but Pratt said the door is always open to advisors with an active investment mindset and interest in accessing more alternative options.
“There's just not a lot of firms that are out there that can support that, and it’s something that we are professionalized in,” he said. “So, I think that there's a niche of advisor out there that could find it very beneficial to associate with us in either some sort of partnership capacity or just plugging into the support that we can provide.”