As an independent advisor, you’re always on the lookout for ways to enhance the value your practice provides to clients while keeping costs under control. With high inflation, occasional market instability, and a possible 2023 recession inbound, that can be an increasingly tall order to fill.
However, this can be where investment consulting services come in. Leveraging them could help you provide customized investment advice aligned with your clients’ goals, keep your documentation up to date with the latest regulations (including Reg-BI), and much more.
Just as importantly, investment consulting services can be an affordable answer for scaling your firm without adding significant overhead costs. Rather than hiring a full-time analyst or losing time to investment research and due diligence, you can outsource these activities (at, potentially, a fraction of the cost).
- Investment consulting services: what’s involved?
- The benefits of investment consulting services
- Choosing the right investment consulting firm
- Tips for working with an investment consultant
Investment Consulting Services: What’s Involved?
Hiring an investment consulting provider typically involves a team of experts specialized in investment research, analysis, and strategy development. These professionals may help develop investment policies and strategies, manage investment portfolios, and/or assist with delegated compliance tasks and documentation.
The exact services provided vary widely based on individual firms’ needs. For an independent RIA, a consulting firm may assist with both asset management and market research. For an independent broker-dealer, the service model may focus more on streamlining your Reg-BI compliance, documentation, and methodologies.
In many cases, the professional you gain becomes your CIO, but he or she is outsourced rather than joining you physically. This outsourced CIO (or “OCIO”) is available to consult with you as needed in multiple areas. You gain an actual team member, despite the fact that they work with you online (which I’ll explain in a bit).
This investment consultant can meet directly with clients, as you see fit, or remain strictly behind the counter. The decision is entirely yours: The right investment consultant will seek to blend their services into yours as much as possible rather than disrupt your team’s established systems and workflows.
The Benefits of Investment Consulting Services
The most obvious advantage of investment consulting services may be the freedom it can help you to recoup. If you’ve found yourself dreaming of getting back time to spend on clients and prospects, that doesn’t have to be a fantasy. Freed-up work hours are far from the only benefit, but their impact on your services (and possibly, your personal life) can be profound.
There are plenty of other advantages, however. For instance, you could gain access to a team of experienced professionals with specialized knowledge in various aspects of the financial industry. Imagine gaining a wealth of knowledge and the kind of been-there insights that you may not have around the physical office—without the usual expenses associated.
If you’re wondering how, the answer may be surprisingly simple: We’re talking about an outsourced CIO for RIAs and broker-dealers; not a physical hire coming under your brick-and-mortar roof. This executive truly joins your team, meaning that you can list the bio on your site’s Our Team page.
But in a sense, you get the best of both worlds. While he or she remains accessible day to day through the business week, you wind up paying far less than you might to bring an executive in-house. This is because you never have any bonuses to pay; zero.
You don’t have to provide benefits, either. All you have to cover is the compensation. Assuming you’re up to date on the firm’s ISP bills, that’s it. You don’t even have to cover parking or provide office space.
Humor me, if you would, for a minute:
- Imagine (or research) the cumulative costs of hiring a full-time executive to work in your physical office.
- Now, consider your profits from getting the same possible incoming financial boost without the usual expensive benefits package.
There are more advantages to the OCIO model than I have space to go into (and you have time to read) today. What I’ve presented is the very tip of the iceberg.
Choosing the Right Investment Consulting Firm
Granted, what I’ve presented is a best-case scenario. Not all OCIOs adhere to the standards we take pride in at Cornerstone. That’s why there are clear factors to consider when vetting prospective investment consulting firms.
First of all, you need expertise. Look for a firm with experience in the areas most important to your practice each day. Next, research what you can about their reputation. Look for firms with a strong standing in the industry. You may want to request references and read online reviews, as well.
While you’re at it, be sure to look for a firm that can customize its services to meet your specific needs. The right candidate could enhance your investment process without uprooting what works well for you. This may, for example, include developing policies and strategies to align with your clients’ goals and risk tolerance.
Tips for Working With an Investment Consultant
Lastly, once you’ve selected an investment consulting firm, here are some tips for working effectively with your OCIO.
- Define your expectations. Clearly explain your needs, including the scope of services, deliverables, and timelines.
- Maintain communication. Keep in touch to ensure that you and your OCIO are aligned on goals and strategies. This can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure that your practice stays on track with your objectives.
- Consider suggestions. The best OCIOs want your practice to succeed, long-term. So, stay open to constructive input, should it be offered. Remember that their experience could be invaluable for honing your services.
- Provide feedback. Provide regular, constructive feedback to your consultant on their performance and the impact of their recommendations. This can help them adjust their strategies and services toward your needs.
Cornerstone Portfolio Research is ready to exceed your expectations; not your budget.