Investing is Not Just About Risk/Return
What are the benefits of having a third-party portfolio manager to manage one’s accounts?
Ron Medley: Whether using a third party or an in-house portfolio manager, a key benefit is having a relationship with the portfolio manager in order to have a communication channel that can provide feedback beyond just the price and the news headlines of the day. The ability to get a view into the investment decision-making process can help provide the necessary feedback to inoculate you from the emotion that only looking at price and headlines can generate. Once you have that feedback, you can achieve certainty of process and peace of mind, given the variety of possible outcomes from the market. As an example of our practice, we use volatility as a factor for investment selection. Our research has shown that the risk/reward of owning lower volatility portfolios has generated a couple percent more return for about the same risk as the market over the last couple decades. We construct portfolios that are dynamic in their ability to adapt when unexpected things happen in the market and we can also build custom variations of this approach, which are unique to each client. Generally, once clients learn about how we implement the investment process and experience owning a portfolio constructed and managed this way, emotional energy can be channeled toward much more productive areas.
Our research has shown that the risk/reward of owning lower volatility portfolios has generated a couple percent more return for about the same risk as the market over the last couple decades.
What mechanisms do you use when identifying risks and opportunities for MSAM’s clients?
Ron Medley: What’s most important here is the ‘What, Why and How’ for the client: What are your beliefs and your mission? ; Why are we doing this? ; How do we tap into the positive emotion that is driving you and help you step toward making your vision reality? We listen first. And then we work to understand how we can help provide clarity to help turn those emotions, concerns and goals into positive actions.
What sets your firm apart from other asset management companies?
Chris Pelley: There are almost one million investment advisers around the world. We all look about the same and most people aren’t entirely sure what we’re talking about or how to differentiate us. But we all have three deliverables as follows:
- Comprehensive financial planning – We pull together strategies and views tying life goals and expectations. We are also aligned with both tax and legal advice.
- Portfolio design – Working to develop custom asset allocation profile and investing the portfolio accordingly.
- Education – We encourage our clients to ‘invest their time before they invest their money’.
At MSAM, we add a special fourth dimension that is often the primary focus on enhancing our client relationships. We are very mindful about making useful ‘connections’ that can help our friends’ companies, careers, children and charities. We believe that the way people invest their time is even more important than the way they invest their money. We open doors that enhance the quality of their lives. They reciprocate for us too.
What are some of the challenges that investment advisers in the US have been facing over the past year in relation to changes in what customers expect in terms of products and services?
Ron Medley: We have an overabundance of investment products - there are as many funds as there are stocks they invest in, and this is not only because of the proliferation of funds and ETFs. There are also less companies going public. Although the value of the market as a whole has grown, the US market had almost twice as many public companies 20 years ago. More and more, it seems investment capital is chasing companies long before they are accessible in the public markets. Historically, over the last century, small companies offered a 3%+ return premium over large companies. But with less small companies being public, we have to find more ways to access quality small companies. Alternatives, as an asset class, have attracted a lot of investable assets and are projected to become 15% of the investable universe by 2025, a recent PwC study has shown. We’ve invested a lot of energy in developing ways to allocate to alternative asset classes, such as private equity for example, in order to continue to broaden our access to the investable universe for clients.
Alternatives, as an asset class, have attracted a lot of investable assets and are projected to become 15% of the investable universe by 2025,
What strategies do you implement to ensure that your clients’ goals and objectives are achieved?
Ron Medley: We’ve got a full toolbox to work with, but it’s all about the journey, not the destination. We follow a structured process that has certainty in its steps, use a variety of solutions, enabling and advocating client significance in purpose and making useful connections, and we work to focus client conversations in areas that will help them have the greatest impact. Through a culture of continual discovery, we make adjustments as necessary, given whatever changes life or markets bring.
Additionally, investing is not just about risk/return – it’s also about innovation, impact and purpose. When we have built a trusted relationship with a client, worked together to position a portfolio overall to take care of a client’s financial planning needs and move conversations toward fulfilling the client’s greatest purpose, I know we are on the right track. We are happy to play whatever small part we can in helping our clients change the world for the better, one trusted relationship at a time. And it all begins with a conversation.
What two or three things would you look for in an adviser if you were seeking one?
Ron Medley: Trust and a willingness to invest in the relationship to create it. I’d also want to know that they weren’t going to waste my time with a bunch of product features and benefits without a depth of expertise in the approach and the process. I’d also like to be in the hands of professionals who experience both the up and down sides of the market, and who prepare themselves for the uncertainties, instead of just reacting to whatever crosses their path.
Finally, I’d like to know that we could learn from one another and make each other better. We’re only as good as the quality of the team we surround ourselves with.
Ron Medley has a passion for building custom investment portfolios - he works with advisers and clients to build, manage, protect and transfer wealth. As the President of Moloney Securities Asset Management (MSAM), Ron leads a team of over 50 independent advisers who provide wealth management services to clients primarily in the US, with some international exposure. Ron joined the Moloney Securities family of companies in 1999, after working for a mutual fund company and an insurance company in the 1990s
MSAM is a registered investment adviser, affiliated with Moloney Securities Company, Inc., a broker/dealer. Headquartered in St. Louis, MO, MSAM has a correspondent relationship with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and has advisers across the US operating as MSAM or affiliated entities.
Chris Pelley, Managing Director of the Pelley Group, has been in the financial services industry for over 30 years and has a passion for helping investors make better decisions. He’s spent over 11 years working abroad for world-class financial institutions including Shearson Lehman Hutton where he specialised in retirement planning for corporate executives in NYC. In 1994, Chris founded Capital Investment Management Company (CIMCO), with the goal of offering clients independent investment advice. In 2014, he joined RBC Wealth Management and chose to affiliate with MSAM as an independent adviser in 2016.