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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Frost Bucks for Platform Attention

Reported by Anastasia Donde

Frost Investment Advisors, a $10 billion firm out of San Antonio, Texas, recently launched its Frost Aggressive Allocation Fund (FCAAX), a third in a series, and is doing a big push to ramp up all three funds' presence on the major custodial and wirehouse platforms. The firm already has some of its older funds on the Schwab, Fidelity and Pershing platforms and recently got them unto TD Ameritrade and UBS as well. Tom Stringfellow, the firm's President and CIO, told MFWire that he wants to get the newer fund on those platforms as well, and to develop relationships with some of the other platforms, as well as major RIAs.

The Aggressive Asset Allocation fund was launched earlier this month and follows the Frost Moderate Allocation Fund (FIBTX), which was started eight years ago, and the Conservative Allocation Fund (FDSFX), which was launched two years ago. The firm manages $3 billion in the Frost funds and has $10 billion overall in a variety of other equity and bond mutual funds, some of which are sub advised by external asset managers.

The firm had $1.5 billion in mutual fund assets when it launched in April, 2008, and has grown to $3 billion since. Stringfellow said he is targeting 15-20 percent growth per year. The investment shop spun out of Frost Bank and Stringfellow said it was to avoid perceived conflicts of interest when it comes to managing money within such an environment.

"There are a lot of questions about investment advisors within a bank structure and there is still a perception of issues with it," Stringfellow said. He also thought a separate asset management arm would be a better platform for launching more strategies and growing the business.

SEI provides distribution, back office help, administration, transfer agency, some compliance and board help to the Frost funds, as part of its Advisors Inner Circle trust. Stringfellow said Frost looked at other administrators and distributors of this sort but were very concerned about costs and bring the fees down, so SEI was the best provider from that perspective. Frost pays SEI about 9 basis points for its services and the number slides down as the assets grow.

The firm also recently nixed a sub-advisor on its small-cap strategy, Denver-based Cambiar Investors, and took the management in house. Stringfellow said this made more sense because the two firms were competing for business on that strategy from the same intermediary channels. 

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