REP.: Focus has 100 advisor partners and $50 billion in assets. Last month it announced a deal in which the consulting firm Mercer agreed to provide research for your advisor firms. How did that come about?
Rudy Adolf: One of the great things when you have scale is access to research capabilities. One of our partners tells us what needs they have. We go through the market and try to find the best vendor. And then we create the relationship through the holding company for all our partner firms. There’s an umbrella agreement that sets out the core terms of the relationship. If somebody raises their hand and says, “I want to be a part of that,” they can step into an established relationship. The terms are significantly better than if they accessed it directly.
Mercer is a gigantic consulting and advisory group targeting very large institutional investors, their core clientele. They have built a terrific track record of superior outcomes, a very high level of professionalism. It’s very powerful, and it’s quite unique for firms in the RIA space to get access to these types of capabilities.
REP.: What’s the average size of your partner firms?
RA: Minimum AUM is typically $400 million to $500 million.
REP.: What do institutional researchers offer your advisors?
RA: It starts with the macro outlook, economic trends as they develop,
what it means for financial markets. Then it gets into manager research, what are the right types of managers by asset class.
REP.: How much of the demand for this research is being driven by your partners?
RA: All of it. Access to highly sophisticated institutional research was a priority for a number of our partner firms. We do very little “If you build it, they will come;” that’s not our philosophy.