Every good surfer has to be ready for the right waves.
In the case of the San Francisco-based Forward
, the firm is positioning itself for what its executives see as an evolution in the institutional channel.
"We believe something is happening here. There is significant growth in the institutional market," Clay Smudsky
, managing director and head of distribution for Forward recently told MFWire
Part of these preparations include the recent hiring of Brad Schluter as vice president, institutional sales
"Brad is a very seasoned and highly regarded institutional client service professional, has worked in all areas of the institutional market place," Smudsky said.
This is only the beginning for Forward though. Smudsky said that the firm "looks to commit more resources" to this area in the near future, partly because he and his colleagues seem some important trends in this market segment.
For instance, Smudsky said "there is growth in the family offices and some of the larger wealth management platforms that we deal with.
There is also what Smudsky describes as a "convergence" between the institutional consultant and broker dealer segments of the industry. Namely, that institutional consultants are serving more broker-dealer teams as they increasingly look to outsource their research and management due diligence functions.
He said that positioning Forward to take advantage of these trends "is important for us to gain share in the marketplace."
"We recognize this as an important part of our distribution model and a very important part of our growth in the broker dealer market," he said.
Forward also has two other areas of focus in terms of distribution.
It has a strategic relationship team, which according to Smudsky, "basically deals with the home offices of many of the larger broker dealers and custodians we do business with."
"Manager research, product selection and platform availability is critical to the future business at any major broker dealer. We have a very established team but we will probably be looking to grow that presence in the near future," he said.
Then there is what Smudsky refers to as the "intermediary" channel, which he describes in this way:
Some call it retail or broker-dealer. In our intermediary group. In our world, there is a strong commitment to the financial advisor that works as one of the larger broker dealer or independent broker dealer firms. The Morgans, the Commonwealths, the LPLs, the Merrill Lynches, the financial advisors we serve.
This has been an important source of growth for us over the years. This is a space to which we are especially committed.
Smudsky says that an important element of Forward's intermediary strategy is education.
"Forward is focused on educating advisors in the intermediary channel. We rely on technology and thought leadership and delivering that thought leadership on the field through the field sales force, through technology and webinars and white papers," he said.
Forward completed a month ago a 22-city roadshow, connecting clients with senior PMs and senior executives to discuss the challenges of investing in a low interest rate environment. During that time, the firm had also launched two funds.
"It was original. It was fresh. It helped us engage our customers face-to-face to discuss a real problem."
Stay ahead of the news ... Sign up for our email alerts now