After World War II, British automakers launched a valiant attempt to sell products beyond the Empire. Several U.K. marques introduced themselves to the U.S. with cute, tiny roadsters that stood out from the chrome-bedazzled land yachts from Detroit. Just imagine the 11 foot long, 1,455-pound Austin-Healey pictured above parked next to a 23 foot, two and a half ton Cadillac Eldorado of the same vintage.
While the British invasion from Austin-Healey, Morris Garage, Triumph, and Jensen (among others) won a few sales, most ultimately surrendered, retreating to their island home. The problem was that their products, though eye-catching, were unreliable. Oil leaks, busted clutches, and faulty electronics were typical. A car buyer in the 60s had to face certain tradeoffs: be stylishly stranded on the side of the road, or just drive a Ford like everyone else.
If the Brits had developed their mechanical prowess to the same level as their styling, we would all be driving MGs today. As it happened, the Brits failed to evolve, and the Japanese replaced them with practical and reliable transportation that ultimately challenged the U.S. auto industry in a way the British could not, further one-upping the Brits with their own ragtop – the Mazda Miata.
RIA Practice Management Insights
Since the start of the American experience with the pandemic, we’ve noticed our clients spending more time working “on” their business as opposed to simply working “in” their business. No doubt the work-from-anywhere model has given many people a perspective on their firms that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. We see changes afoot in the industry as a consequence which we believe will outlast WFH.
Our clients are spending more time working “on” their business as opposed to simply working “in” their business.
Consolidation gets most of the headlines in the RIA press, but too many examples of consolidation are really capitulation – selling out is a path to sidestep lingering practice management issues like sustainability or succession.
Despite what you read, not everyone wants to sell. Over the past year or so, many of our clients have used the “pause” in their normal work lives to reassess their marketing plans, compensation schemes, leadership issues, technology integration, and ownership. Most aren’t simply playing practice management whack-a-mole but are looking at these issues in a holistic and strategic way to strengthen the internal mechanisms of their firms and build a more sustainable platform.
RIAs need to grow their systems, processes, policies, and infrastructure just as fast as their AUM.
We’re seeing a subtle, but growing, emphasis on professionalizing the independent investment management industry. RIAs are no longer an assortment of small, scrappy practices for lone wolfs who don’t want to work at wirehouses or bank trust departments. As the decades wear on and the billions under management accumulate, many RIAs have become real businesses. These businesses need to grow their systems, processes, policies, and infrastructure just as fast as their AUM. And there are threats paired to opportunity: with fee schedules and margins under pressure, many firms who have avoided confronting change can no longer afford to do so.
A New Conference
In this spirit, we’ve decided to put together a virtual conference for RIAs that is focused entirely on operational issues – from staffing to branding to technology to culture – issues that are as easy to ignore as they are vital to success. The RIA Practice Management Insights conference will be a two half-day, virtual conference held on March 3 and 4.
A virtual conference for RIAs focused entirely on operational issues – from staffing to branding to technology to culture
The topic list is unlike that of any other investment management firm forum. We’ve attended and spoken at plenty of great conferences that cover investment products and M&A, so we’re not going to plow that ground ourselves. Instead, we have gathered an impressive list of thought leaders who have built careers out of professionalizing the “back of the house” to support the best investment management products and services.
Please join us to get their wisdom on how your firm can evolve to become a more sustainable, profitable, valuable enterprise.