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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Want to Triple Your AUM? Be Stubborn

Reported by Tommy Fernandez

When Cole Smead goes on a sales call to talk with an advisor or platform executive, he usually starts off with an apology.

"I tell them, 'Hey, I'm really sorry. Here are some new data-points on our fund. Nothing has really changed'" the director of marketing and sales recently told MFWire. "We have had only an 11-percent turnover in our portfolio. When you only do one thing and you have a very informed opinion, people already know what you think."

Call them the one-trick pony that done good--real good. The Seattle-based Smead Capital Management [profile] has grown its Smead Value Fund to $430 million, more than triple the $132 million assets the fund held at the beginning of the year. It passed the $400 million market earlier this month.

Smead attributes the success to performance, of course, but also a stubborn devotion to one message: their belief that the U.S. equities market represents the best opportunity for investors over the next five years.

"When you do just one thing, what the hell else are you going to talk about?" he said.

Smead said the firm has been focusing a lot of attention on custodian networks and wirehouses, especially Merrill Lynch and UBS, with whom they just started a relationship in recent weeks.

"Wirehouses are a great opportunity. We can't find any other one-trick ponies that are trying to introduce themselves in that space," he said.

Smead's firm, which has just seven people, relies on both a "ground assault" as well as an "air assault" strategy.

Cole Smead leads the ground assault, visiting with advisors and the platforms at least every 90-days.

"We just get to sit there and indoctrinate and brainwash people to our discipline," he said.

Chief executive and chief investment officer Bill Smead handles the air assault, via weekly investment missives explaining his strategies.

"The missives on their create a great connection with investors," Cole Smead said.

He said that the company intends to stay relatively lean in the near-term, possibly hiring one or two more salespeople depending on how well they do.  

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