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Friday, October 30, 2020

What Is This $14B-AUM Fund Firm's Chief Hunting For?

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

The chief of a $14-billion-AUM, mostly subadvised mutual fund firm in Colorado is looking to expand his product lineup and subadvisor suite in several areas.

Laton Spahr
SS&C Technologies
President, Alps Advisors
"Year one was really getting the infrastructure in place in order to be able to go out to these stranded alpha boutique managers," says Laton Spahr, who took over a year ago as president of SS&C's Alps Advisors [profile]. "There's no shortage of active investment managers out there that are struggling for growth."

Denver-based Alps Advisors now has a team of 85 people, including a national accounts team and a team of 11 wholesalers, Spahr tells MFWire. They partner with about 12 subadvisors and index providers, and Alps Advisors now offers four mutual funds, nine ETFs, and two closed-end funds. Spahr says he spent his first year on the job focused on initiatives like "rounding out" Alps Advisors' proprietary investment capabilities (his second hat there is an equity PM), reorganizing the sales structure (which includes specialist focus for each partner firm as well a national team of generalists), and "building a much more investment-oriented culture."

"It was really an asset-gathering culture," Spahr says. "What hadn't really been focused on was the investment capability of the team at Alps Advisors."

In terms of filling his product pipeline going forward, Spahr highlights several key areas of interest: thematic ETFs (they partner with a pair of index providers to off three thematic ETFs, and he wants to add a couple more providers); active, semi-transparent ETFs (he expects to partner with all the providers in that space, to offer different structures for different managers); alternatives (perhaps to power interval funds); and closed-end funds (for strategies focused on long-term, less-liquid investment).

The first layer of building out Alps Advisors' lineup, Spahr says, involves finding existing strategies that aren't getting "the attention they deserve and taking them out into the sunlight." The second layer involves looking at the firm's existing subadvisor allies and asking "What new capabilities do you believe you have that we can help you grow?" And the third layer is M&A, perhaps two or three years down the line, if their distribution and partners are going well.

"Yeah, we're looking for acquisitions," Spahr says. "First we're kind of planting the seeds." 

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