Your Virtual Ensemble®

Overview

In the September 2005 issue of Investment Advisor, our founder coined the phrase Virtual Ensemble® to help describe FocusPoint’s service offering.

In his words:

The solution to many advisors’ dilemmas may be a Virtual Ensemble®, a group of independent advisors from around the country, who have similar business philosophies and have consolidated all non-client-related activities through a completely Web-based centralized engine. This Virtual Ensemble® could be set up as some sort of co-op arrangement. Another possibility would be to outsource various functions to a variety of providers.

If the main job of an advisor is to serve clients and build the business, it seems that a virtual turnkey business solution would free the advisor to do just that. Interestingly enough, as we have implemented the Virtual Ensemble® structure, we have found that this model works not only for solo practitioners but also for groups of advisors, even traditional ensembles. Wrapping the Virtual Ensemble™ support system around a traditional ensemble practice adds even more operating leverage to the equation. For solo practitioners, the Virtual Ensemble® creates an alternative to the traditional ensemble. With a streamlined business, breaking through the million dollar mark may not be necessary to match, or even exceed, the industry profitability benchmarks.

Critical Elements

Regardless of the specific solution, here are some of the critical elements we believe should be incorporated into the Virtual Ensemble® concept:

  • Advisors would own and operate their own RIA. This allows them to maintain their identity within their own community and continue developing their own brand.
  • Advisors should be able to choose a broker/dealer affiliation, provided their b/d allows them to operate an outside RIA.
  • The Virtual Ensemble® structure should be invisible to the client who should only have a relationship directly with the advisor.
  • The core of the Web-based engine should be a fully integrated client relationship management and portfolio management system.
  • Ideally, further leverage would be obtained by providing advisors with virtual document management technology to allow them to have truly Web-based, paperless offices.
  • All investment research would be centralized, but advisors should be able to fully participate in the investment selection and management process, if they so desire.
  • Each advisor would have investment discretion for his clients.
  • The system would provide the ability to manage all of the client’s assets, regardless of size or type of account.
  • The system would provide real-time tracking of all back-office activities, including account transfers, trades, and client distributions.
  • The advisor could run all investment proposals and reports via the Web, at any time and from any place.
  • Instead of focusing on research, trading, downloading, reconciling, reporting, portfolio management, and monitoring, advisors would spend their time developing client relationships and growing their businesses.
  • High quality client communications and reports should be provided that would go out under the advisor’s signature and branded with their firm’s logo.

Make It Easier

  • Practices with assets under management of up to $40 million to $50 million should be able to easily operate with only a single staff person.
  • Transition guidance and coaching, along with a team of transition specialists should be available to help the advisor make a quick and profitable transition to the fee—based business model.
  • Ongoing business coaching would help advisors maintain a profitable business while finding a balance between their personal and professional life.
  • The Virtual Ensemble® would have the scale to continue developing systems and the resources to purchase state-of-the-art technology that would be prohibitive for individual advisors.
  • Advisors in the ensemble would have the scale to obtain compliance services, marketing support, case design, and financial plan writing services utilizing top talent while paying preferred rates.

Think of FocusPoint as your Virtual Ensemble®, allowing you to enjoy all of the economies of scale and synergy of a traditional ensemble while keeping your independence and remaining in control of all decisions relating to your business.

The Leverage, Independence, and Support You’re Seeking

The world has changed significantly, but our Virtual Ensemble® service offering continues to stand the test of time.

Many advisors are looking for a business model which offers them all the economies of scale and synergy of a traditional ensemble, while allowing them to truly keep their independence and remain in control of all decisions relating to their practice—and their clients.

The Virtual Ensemble® offers advisors the independence, leverage, and support they desire…without the need to join a larger firm. How is this possible?

Here’s what the concept looks like: A group of independent advisors, across the country, with similar business philosophies, are able to consolidate/delegate their non-client-facing activities to an experienced back office team, through a completely Web-based, centralized, integrated suite of non-proprietary technology.

Why consider the Virtual Ensemble®?

It’s Your Business

  • You own and operate your own RIA; this allows you to maintain and develop your identity and brand, within your local community.
  • The Virtual Ensemble® structure can be virtually transparent to your clients, who only have a relationship directly with you.
  • You enjoy a significant amount of leverage, without the need to join a larger firm.
  • You’re able to redirect your time and energy to client relationship and business growth.
  • Keeping a broker/dealer affiliation is up to you.
  • You have the option of leveraging a corporate RIA structure, while keeping your own brand.

A Team of Experienced Professionals Back You Up

  • Your dedicated relationship manager serves as your central point of contact for all back office activities.
  • Practices <$100 million AUM can operate with as few as one staff person.
  • Transition specialists help you make a quick and profitable transition to the new business model.
  • Your practice development team helps you to maintain/develop your unique brand, message, client pieces, and marketing/sales strategies.

You Plug Into an Integrated, Non-Proprietary Suite of Technology

  • The core of the Web-based engine is a fully integrated client relationship and portfolio management system.
  • You can view real-time tracking of all back office activities—including account transfers, trades, and client distributions.
  • You have the scale and resources to continue developing systems and to purchase state-of-the art technology that could otherwise be cost prohibitive.

Choose Your Unique Investment Management Options

  • You can adjust your level of participation in the investment selection and management process.
  • You keep investment discretion for your clients.
  • You can manage most of your clients’ assets within one system, regardless of account size/type.
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