We can help you design and execute your Investment Philosophy.
Investment management and market research (your portfolios or ours)
- Provide regular account review and rebalancing (based on your criteria, to ensure accounts are invested according to their investment model)
- Offer assistance with special asset strategies
- Create client-ready, customizable quarterly advisor communications on broad market topics
- Create weekly market missive communications and index/investment performance
- Provide access to communication with a full-time CFA team and investment committee
- Generate periodic commentary on market action and/or timely topics
Investment management and market research (FocusPoint models only)
- Provide investment research/recommendations
- Offer ongoing investment monitoring and due diligence
- Measure model performance and value added
A Solution that Makes Sense
When it comes to portfolio management, we’re unique.
Remember that all of FocusPoint’s systems truly have been designed entirely by advisors, for advisors.
Because of our background as advisors, we have unique insight into the challenges you may be facing. That’s why, several years ago, our founder decided to create what he felt was the perfect solution. Our portfolio management process was designed – and continues to evolve – around what advisors really need.
Here’s what makes our portfolio management solution different:
First, we know how important it is for you to remain in control of your client experience. This is why we’ve created a unique system which allows us to manage portfolios for you, at your discretion.
At the same time, we know that in a perfect world, you probably wouldn’t be spending very much time on investment research. You’d prefer to be doing what you enjoy most and do best: meeting with clients and/or gathering assets. Advisors who work with us are freed up to do just that.
We believe our system is a perfect solution since the vast majority of the research and maintenance work is done by our investments team, so that at the end of the day you’re able to make informed decisions – yet spend only a handful of hours each month on portfolio management.
Next, we realize every advisor’s situation is unique. It’s likely that you may need us to build around existing assets and accommodate accounts of various types and sizes.
That’s why our portfolios are FLEXIBLE – they can be customized to accommodate specific needs and clients. We’ll help you get all of your existing assets and accounts organized – immediately and based on what’s best for your clients. Unlike other money managers, we never force everything into cash – we work together with you to do what’s in your clients’ best interests.
We can also implement your investment philosophy or models of your construction. Our models are designed with a particular range of return in mind; for example, you might put a more conservative client who needs a 7% rate of return into a particular portfolio – which is designed to return, net of your fee (which includes ours) between 7-8% over a 20-year basis. In terms of performance, our goal is to outperform a perfect blend of benchmarks by 150-200 bps.
Finally, we know you are fiercely independent. We are a true private label solution. FocusPoint is completely INVISIBLE to your clients. One of the main things that sets our services apart from other providers is that we never require your clients to sign an agreement with us; we support you, the advisor.
We don’t dictate how you manage your practice; we simply provide you with tools, leverage, and a highly scalable business model. On a similar note, our systems are non-proprietary; we designed them to be compatible with any planning process or software you might use.
Within our systems, advisors can run customized client presentations, including a planning checklist, investment policy statement, and complete, clearly defined investment philosophy. You’re welcome to use anything we have already created, or edit whatever you like to suit your unique needs. Everything advisors create from our systems displays their own unique RIA logo, color scheme, and brand.
In summary, advisors who work with us have been amazed at the simplicity of our systems and the strategies our team can provide. They find they are able to consolidate most assets into a streamlined, manageable, controlled fee environment, while increasing revenue and the intrinsic value of their business.
Your Investment Philosophy
We can help you design and execute your Investment Philosophy.
A significant piece of what we help advisors to do is design a truly effective and customized investment process based on what they plan to do for clients going forward.
We will initially help you to create and incorporate a clear, executable Investment Philosophy which can be used with and delivered to your clients.
Advisors may choose to utilize the Investment Philosophy we built for our original practice with some slight modifications. In this scenario, we work with those advisors to design several models based on that philosophy which can look and feel they were customized for their clients.
Our 10-person Investment Policy Committee constantly reviews the investments within each model and provides insight on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to all advisors
In summary, you’re using your own customized Investment Philosophy to design model portfolios to accommodate all of your clients’ needs. Concurrently, you are utilizing the expertise of a trusted portfolio management team who makes ongoing recommendations – and keeps you apprised of anything you need to know in order to make the best informed decisions for you clients.
You’ll be speaking knowledgeably to your clients about their portfolios, yet you’ll be spending a limited amount of your valuable time on the investments themselves…
One Advisor’s Experience
Hear from one advisor who uses FocusPoint about what makes our portfolio management offering different:
“What makes FocusPoint’s portfolio management offering different from the other money managers you’ve used?”
Flexibility. In addition to the transparency.
At the time I started working with another money manager, I couldn’t move existing positions into an account. So if I had clients with low cost basis or investments they owned for sentimental purposes and so forth, my hands were tied. They couldn’t try to work a model around them – FocusPoint could, which to me was a huge advantage.
FocusPoint’s system also allows me to be able to work with some smaller accounts. I have a good client with a 700k IRA, but his wife has a 5k Roth. I don’t want to have to say to them, “I can manage your account, but I can’t do yours.” With another money manager there were minimums, so it was not for everyone. With FocusPoint it was nice to have that flexibility of being able to work with small accounts when necessary. It wasn’t that I was going to out prospecting for 5k accounts, but when you have clients who have smaller accounts in addition to their larger accounts, you want to be able to accommodate them.
And I also have much more involvement in the investment process – being able to move positions in and hold them. Yes, I outsourced the investments in the first place to not be involved, but I think at some level you want to have some control. I never want to have to tell my clients, “They did this” or “They did that.” I now can honestly tell my clients, “This is what we did” when we made a strategic decision to move out of high yield bonds, or trimmed back on real estate, for example.
With typical money managers you don’t have that luxury. You can’t delay changes to a client’s account based on what you think is best. It’s whatever they decide to do – even if you don’t agree with it. You don’t have the choices you have with FocusPoint. I can opt out of or delay recommendations based on what I think is best for my clients.
What’s interesting is that when some FocusPoint partners talk to other advisors about their investment process—and what makes us different from a typical money manager advisors might be used to—often times it appears that the advisors who work with FocusPoint are spending a lot of time on investments simply because they have so much knowledge about it, when in fact they’re not spending very much time on investments at all. How much time would you say you need to spend on the investments piece of your business in order to feel comfortable?
At this point, I do a little of my own due diligence, but no more than 1-2 hours a week – and that might be a lot.
When a change or recommendation is being made, that’s when I go into my mode of doing a bit of research on my own. For example, FocusPoint proposes that we sell XYZ fund and use two new large cap positions. Okay, now it’s time for me to do a bit of research on my own to help me make that decision for clients ultimately, but I definitely don’t do this regularly. I’m not looking for “better” options out there than what is recommended by FocusPoint’s investment committee, because I have complete confidence in them, but I do think it’s important that when I speak to my clients, I can do so intelligently about why I made those changes.
It’s what works for me.
I can run any type of performance or management reports I want, but as far as being actively involved in the investments process, I’m relying on FocusPoint almost totally.
Ideally that’s how it’s supposed to work – so that you have some time to step back and consider any recommendations the investment committee might make – which really puts you in a position of being in control and being able to talk to clients very knowledgeably about what’s happening.
The agreement my clients have is with us, not with FocusPoint.
I looked really closely at some other turnkey asset management programs and just decided I didn’t feel comfortable with any of them. I just knew there had to be an option better out there which would give me more control.
The discretion on the accounts falls to us, not to FocusPoint. Ultimately it helps me to feel better that I’ve done everything I could to make sure that these are suitable recommendations for my clients and I’m on top of things.
I know I’m doing what’s best for my clients and that’s why I continue to stay involved at that level. I’m comfortable with that responsibility.
The Ideal Solution?
Read one industry journalist’s take on the ideal third-party money manager.
As you consider whether and how to incorporate investment management services into your practice, here’s an interesting recent article written by Bob Clark of Investment Advisor.
To our knowledge, we are the only firm in our industry that does exactly what he suggests the ideal third-party money manager would do in a perfect world.
The clients need to be yours, not theirs. Because they take discretion over the portfolios, some management services feel the clients are theirs, communicating with them directly, and making it far harder, if not impossible, to fire them. In my view, if a third-party manager isn’t a service clearly offered through your practice, you’re just asking for trouble. All client contact, and explanations for all changes in client portfolios or not changing them should come directly from the advisor.
The cost has to be reasonable. The temptation of third-party managers is to charge some ridiculous amount of money for their expertise, perhaps because they do too much work with wire house brokers. Even though their cost is part of that “higher fee” which you are well worth, there are limits. Maybe in another ten years or so, I’ll change my tune about this too, but 200 bps seems the upper limit on financial advice, and 150 basis points more reasonable.
You need to have some involvement in the investment process. The problem most advisors have with management services is that they lose the ability to have input into the investment process, and to customize client portfolios. Both are important aspects of the services that advisors are offering their clients. Obviously, portfolios need to meet each client’s specific needs, and just because you’re not managing the portfolio, doesn’t mean you don’t have good ideas or responsibility for what’s in them. I think advisors would have more comfort with third party managers if they had more input to the management process.
How We Do It
We can help you to streamline ALL of your client assets into one system.
One of the most common questions we hear from advisors is this:
“How can you possibly take the hodge-podge of stuff we have and essentially fit it into three or four models…some big accounts, some small accounts?”
This is often a real stumbling block for advisors. We all know that having more consistent portfolios really enhances an advisor’s ability to provide a high level of service to the client, largely because we simply know the portfolios better and can make changes more quickly and easily when required.
However, most advisors don’t believe there is a clear and concise way to take all the divergent assets they have accumulated over years and years and cram them all into a neat package that is more manageable. We have built appropriate models for large accounts, small accounts, annuity accounts and even socially responsible investors. We’ve created systems to monitor special assets like individual stocks or even limited partnerships. We want to remove obstacles to you satisfying your client’s real needs and wants. The constant theme for your transition team should be, “How can we move ALL assets into a fee-based business model?” We have been dealing with this scenario since our company’s inception and have therefore developed systems to accommodate these assets.
FocusPoint’s transition team reviews every account. We confirm each client’s basic asset allocation, derived from their individual need for return and their risk tolerance. From there we begin looking at the specific allocation, meaning we determine what weightings are in each specific asset class (small cap, large cap, mid cap, international, specialty equity, government bonds, intermediate bonds, and specialty bonds). Then we can evaluate all the assets held in the account.
We will look for all of the following: cost basis issues, surrender issues, and securities that cannot be sold (deciding if we need to exchange them into another sub-account or build the portfolio around them). We know each portfolio can be a little different.
To give a clearer picture to our process, here is a typical example of a client’s taxable portfolio:
|Security||Value||Date Sold||Cost Basis|
|XYZ High Yield Bond Class B||$45,000||2002||$50,000|
|ABC Fund Class A||$40,000||2000||$45,000|
|DEF Fund Class A||$65,000||1998||$75,000|
The advisor has determined that the client needs an allocation of 70% stocks and 30% equities.
In this example, we would start with the funds and look at cost basis, recommending the following:
We would sell the ABC and DEF and capture the $15,000 in losses.
Next, we would talk to the advisor about the bond annuity to see if we should think about selling it. In this scenario there would be no tax issue; it would just be a matter of asking, “Is it out of surrender or not?” Let’s assume we could sell it. (Now we have $180,000 in cash and $170,000 in securities that cannot be sold at this time.)
Our next step would be to evaluate if XYZ is the manager we want to use for specialty bonds. Our CFA team determines the best manager XYZ has and we decide to make the recommendation to exchange these B shares for XYZ’s Growth & Income Fund. We capture a $5,000 loss and don’t trigger the back-end load.
Now, we would look at the variable annuity and the sub-accounts that are offered to the client within it. We see that PIMCO’s Bill Gross is running the bonds for them and want to use him for the bond allocation, so we allocate a portion of the annuity to the government and intermediate bond position. They also have a good large cap manager so we allocate the rest of the annuity to that manager.
At this point, we have dealt with all the securities that we cannot sell and we would use the remaining cash to purchase securities in the remaining asset classes.
In the above scenario, we have achieved the proper allocation that the client and advisor wanted – and happened to capture a $5,000 loss.
From this point forward, our experienced team would manage the portfolio in an active manner. We would also flag the B shares so that we know when they should be converted to A shares. We have now captured all the information about the portfolio inside our streamlined systems, and the advisor has all the information at their fingertips (i.e. cost basis of the overall portfolio, information about B shares, and the original cost of the annuity with purchase date).
Now this portfolio can be effectively and efficiently managed.
As for the portfolios themselves, we currently manage 30+ models:
We also manage Individual Stock and Income Distribution portfolios.
Each of these models is designed for specific accounts and size. Companion accounts have four asset classes and are managed for accounts under $40,000. Extended Focused accounts are managed with all asset classes but one fund per asset class. They are designed for accounts ranging in value from $40,000 to $125,000. Extended accounts are designed with all asset classes and multiple funds per asset classes for accounts above $75,000.
This is just a quick overview of how we help advisors pull in and then manage all accounts on a fee-based business. Our team is happy to go through this with you in greater detail at any time.
Meet the Investment Management Team
Advisors we support can either hire FocusPoint to execute their preferred investment strategy, or choose to utilize our investment management process and portfolios, while maintaining their own brand identity and relationship with clients.
In either case, advisors can benefit from our team’s research and investment expertise to assist them (with management of their own model portfolios or ours). When advisors opt to take full advantage this area of our comprehensive services menu, FocusPoint offers them access to a full-time, 7-person Investment Policy Committee. We employ a CFA with over 25 years of investments experience who leads the Investment Policy Committee, on which our chief compliance officer, as well as two financial advisors, serve on a rotating basis. The committee, who meets at minimum monthly, exists to make investment decisions for our firm in accordance with our highly disciplined investment philosophy.
Our unique investment process – which has been in place for over 20 years – allows us to emphasize customization with each and every client you support. We have the ability to deal appropriately with everything from legacy assets to highly appreciated individual stock positions. Our firm has also developed systems which enable us to hold just about all of your clients’ assets; this can greatly simplify those clients’ lives as they receive one consolidated statement from you.