My Next Step

I’m a huge fan of standing on the shoulders of giants to learn as much as I can from others. When I started this website a couple years ago one of the first things I did was study the writing styles and websites of some of my favorite blogs. The two that I spent the most time on were a couple of guys I’ve been reading and following for a number of years — Barry Ritholtz of The Big Picture and Josh Brown of The Reformed Broker.

Over time I got to know both of these guys as we realized we had a lot of shared ideas on the investment business. I never set out to advance my career through this blog. For me it’s always been more of a learning exercise and a way to shape and share my thoughts. So if you would have told me that someday I would be working with Josh and Barry, two people that I have an enormous amount of respect for, I would have said you were crazy.

Well, sometimes life is crazy. Today I’m excited to announce that I will be joining Barry, Josh and the rest of the excellent team at Ritholtz Wealth Management as Director of Institutional Asset Management.

When they started their firm a couple years ago, Josh wrote the following in his announcement:

Our mission, then, is clear: We are here to help clients navigate the complexities of the present while preparing them for the future – with the Big Picture in mind at all times. Our job is to build successful, goal-oriented investor portfolios with an emphasis on historical context, situational awareness and common sense.

I emailed him that day with a note of congratulations, but also told him how much the firm’s mission resonated with me. As we continued a dialogue over time he eventually asked me what I would like to do with my career. Here’s what I laid out for him:

  • There are tons of small and mid-sized institutional funds — foundations, endowments, pension funds, etc. — out there that are being mis-managed. They’re getting poor, and often conflicted, advice. They’re investing in things they don’t understand. The fees they’re paying are too high. Most haven’t established any legitimate guidelines or investment policy statements. And most importantly, their portfolios and investment plans aren’t taking into account each organization’s specific mission. Many consultants and advisors are more concerned with creating clever portfolios than paying attention to an institution’s goals.
  • Early on in my career I worked with a consulting firm that helped smaller and mid-sized institutions create investment plans and goals-based portfolios. This is always something that I’ve wanted to do on my own because I think it’s a space that could use a fresh look.
  • I’ve always worked on the institutional side of the business, but I’ve received a number of requests from readers over the past couple of years to help them invest their portfolios. Since starting this blog I’ve become more and more interested in helping individuals reach their financial goals.

One of the things I’ve realized over the years is how important it can be to work for a company you believe in, with people that you like and respect. This is something that you can’t really put a price on, so as I’ve advanced in my career this has become more and more important to me.

I told Josh that my role at the time as part of a small team that managed an endowment fund that was close to $1.5 billion was very interesting, but I’ve always wanted to venture out on my own and help other organizations and individuals.

He finally stopped me and said, “Why don’t you come do all of that for us?”

So that’s what I’m going to do. It was a no-brainer. Not only do I get to work with Josh and Barry, but I’ve had the chance to get to know Michael, Kris, Patrick and Erika, as well. They’re all great people who not only love what they do, but they also love helping their clients.

I’m going to be building out a high quality institutional asset management division within RWM based on the following guidelines:

  • Complex markets do not require complex solutions.
  • Every organization and fund is unique, so they require personalized advice and investment planning.
  • Meeting an organization’s mission is always going to be goal number one.

Outside of CalPERS and the Ivy League endowments, the institutional investment industry is something of a mystery to most outside observers. There are actually over 80,000 charitable foundations in the United States. Ninety-nine percent of these funds have less than $100 million in their portfolios.

The majority of these charitable organizations, along with many municipal and corporate pension plans don’t have the time, resources or expertise to invest institutional level portfolios or create the comprehensive investment plans they require. This is through no fault of their own; they’re more worried about running the day-to-day operations of their organizations. Our plan is to fill that void by acting as a fully-staffed outsourced investment office.

I also get to help bring in individual clients who can work with the CFPs on staff to develop their financial plans.

And things here on the blog will remain the same. I may touch on some topics I haven’t been able to cover in the past, but I’ll continue to focus on utilizing common sense to explain and try to better understand the complexities of the world of finance.

This is a very exciting time for me both personally and professionally. I think we’re going to do some amazing things at Ritholtz Wealth Management. Take a look at the groundbreaking behavioral fee reduction that we announced just last week, as an example.

Please feel free to reach out to me or the team at RWM if you think we can help in any way.

Read the press release for more:
Ben Carlson Joins Ritholtz Wealth Management as Director of Institutional Asset Management (PR Newswire)

 

 

 
Download PDF

Full Disclosure: Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be advice, research or an invitation to buy or sell any securities, please see my Terms & Conditions page for a full disclaimer.

What's been said:

Discussions found on the web
  1. BrandonJRiley commented on Sep 22

    Excellent news Ben. Congratulations.

  2. LeviLevi commented on Sep 22

    Congratulations!

  3. Thias @ It Pays Dividends commented on Sep 22

    Congratulations and best of luck in the new position Ben! Sounds like a great opportunity with a great firm.

  4. studentdotcom commented on Sep 22

    Congratulations to you, Ben. I wish you luck.

  5. JAK78 commented on Sep 22

    Congrats!

  6. Jarrett Płonka commented on Sep 23

    Please accept my sincerest congratulations and best wishes for this exciting and deserved development!

  7. Mark Massey commented on Sep 23

    As a reader of your blog for over a year, I welcome you to doing exactly what you want to do. You will enjoy it very much. Best wishes to you.

  8. NMW commented on Sep 23

    Great news! I’ve been a faithful reader of your blog for several years and have not only learned so much from you but have also applied what I’ve learned to my world as a portfolio manager for trust accounts. Like the institutional investment industry, the trust management industry has its own unique issues, but I’ve found that the common sense approach (with special attention paid to fees and behaviorial biases) that you advocate works just as well in the world of trusts as it does anywhere else. The knowledge I’ve gained has given my role working in a fiduciary capacity new meaning and I love feeling like I’m providing a genuine and valuable service in my job. I’m very happy for you and wish you nothing but the very best in the future.

  9. Sanctuary WS commented on Sep 23

    GREAT MOVE AND POWERFUL PARTNERSHIP! Shows the power of social media to connect smart, like minded people.

  10. drc commented on Sep 23

    congrats! best of luck.

  11. Sunil Reddy commented on Sep 23

    Great News. Congrats. You definitely earned it & truly deserve it.

  12. Learning Value commented on Sep 23

    Congratulations, Ben! You have joined into a great team! Best of luck! Greetings from Mexico!

  13. Grant commented on Sep 23

    Congratulations, Ben! Wonderful news. I just love your blog and your book, and wish you all the very best.

  14. Ravi Dawar commented on Sep 23

    Congratulations Ben. I look forward to more enlightening blog posts in the future.

  15. Patrick Newcombe commented on Sep 23

    Was on Linked In earlier and just happened to to see if you had an update. Way to go, Ben. I’d say this is a very big deal. Congratulations to you!

  16. Hurrow commented on Sep 23

    Congratulations Ben, I hope it works out for everyone!

  17. Wake commented on Sep 23

    Such a great story…now get to work!

  18. John Richards commented on Sep 23

    Oh wow, I’m jealous – you’re going to have a blast! Can’t imagine anything better than getting paid for having this kind of fun. Congratulations and best of luck!

  19. Casey commented on Sep 23

    Congrats Ben. Huge fan of your writing. While I’m a big fan of Barry Ritholtz and Josh Brown, I was surprised to see how high their fees are. While I was impressed with their announcement to lower fees over time based on loyalty – fees in excess of 1% are still very high. Again love your contributions to our industry and wish you the best with your new venture.

  20. Ben Lis commented on Sep 23

    Congrats, Ben. Best of luck in the new position! Sounds exciting and worthwhile.

  21. Taking Stock commented on Sep 23

    Ben: You are young and way ahead of the curve. The public sees the average advisor as a salesperson taking care of their own interests first. You started out with your client’s interest first and foremost. You also think in terms of value, that is the benefits or value that you actually provide to others. In essence, that is long term thinking (building a trustworthy business) vs. what all too often happens, an “advisor” providing “advice” that means maximum returns to the advisor and “good luck to the investor”. And on to the next susceptible individual.
    I’ve travelled this path at least two decades and probably more than that ahead of you. I’ve witnessed both sides. I can say unequivocally that you are firmly on the right side. Those on the other side that I worked with in the 1980s, who looked after themselves first are, thankfully, long gone from the business.
    I’ve always believed, if you provide something of value regardless of the area in which you work, that value will be recognized, sooner or later. And if in the rare case it is not, you can still feel good about yourself because what you have done is absolutely right and honorable.
    You are on a great path and have found that path far earlier than most. Keep it up. You will be rewarded for doing what is right.

  22. Gregory commented on Sep 24

    Congratulations! Don’t forget to write this blog! NEVER:)

  23. Financial-Fitness commented on Sep 25

    Congratulations, and best of luck! Sounds like a great fit based upon your description above.

  24. J. Money commented on Sep 25

    Woahhh so cool! congrats man! blogs just open a wide world of opportunities, don’t they? exciting stuff 🙂

  25. John Thees commented on Sep 25

    Hearty congratulations, Ben. So glad you will continue the blog. It is one of my favorite sources of the articles I send out each month and I contiune to learn from you. Best of luck in your new position.