Depending on your position within the industry, there are some inconveniences working outside of the traditional structure of investment advisors registered with broker/dealers. For instance, we evaluate every investment product our clients use and this requires some upfront work when we begin the due diligence process for new clients. When we first reach out to investment managers to let them know we are evaluating their products, they are usually aware large institutional clients are using their products, but they don’t usually know we are acting as their fiduciary or their investment consultant. For ERISA 3(21) relationships, existing recordkeepers, on-platform representatives, and investment management teams may not know about our involvement until we introduce ourselves.
We often speak about the direct benefits of being an unaffiliated advisor (avoiding conflicts-of-interest, providing unbiased advice, adherence to best practices, etc.), but there are subtle, indirect benefits to being outside of the system. For example, it is easier to determine a service provider’s baseline of service when you first approach them. Imagine you are a busy investment manager and you get a phone call from someone you know to be wealthy and deeply influential. Might you, or your staff, be on your best behavior for that phone call? An average person, calling the same busy investment manager out-of-the-blue, might have a more representative experience. When service providers work with a stable of affiliated advisors, the timbre of the relationship can be influenced by the known assets under management.
We are delighted to be named as one of Plan Adviser’s Top 100 Retirement Plan Advisers for 2014. We are even more pleased to have earned this accolade outside of the traditional structure, so the quality of our work on behalf of our clients is what speaks loudest.