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