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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

A Distro Trio Focuses On Helping Boutiques

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

A trio of veteran marketing and distribution executives from an Empire State fund firm are launching their own distribution ally to fundsters.

Steven Lee "Steve" Chun
Focus Distribution, LLC
Today co-founders Steve Chun, Luke Theeuwes, and Keith Thompson unveiled Focus Distribution, LLC. The marketing and distribution firm will be supporting boutique asset managers, with a particular focus on small ETF shops.

Focus' first client will be Miller/Howard Investments, the fund firm where they've been working together for over a decade. Like Miller/Howard, Focus is based in Woodstock, New York. At Miller/Howard, Chun (based in Woodstock) served as director of product and marketing development, Theeuwes (based in Houston) as national sales manager and a board member, and Thompson (based in Philadelphia) as principal and eastern division director.

Luke Gerard Theeuwes
Focus Distribution, LLC
Cathy Johnson, head of marketing at Miller/Howard, did not immediately return a call for comment.

The vision is to help small firms (with less than $1 billion) suffering from "holes in their marketing and distribution strategies," Chun tells MFWire. The Focus team has particular experience in gaining distribution in the wirehouse channel, Chun notes, whereas many boutiques focus their efforts on the RIA and regional B-D channels. Thus, the Focus team can focus purely on a channel or two, while leaving the rest to the partner firm.

Keith David Thompson
Focus Distribution, LLC
"We're not asking for all distribution," Chun says. "We can be really flexible."

The Focus vision is also about "the whole concept of curation," Chun says. They're not looking to team up with dozens of boutiques: instead, they want to focus on supporting a handful of companies.

"We're really looking for unique ideas ... We want things that fit together well," Chun says. "We envision working with four to five long-term partner firms."

"Some of these smaller ETFs and asset managers provide real value and are positioned to carve out meaningful places alongside these behemoths," Theeuwes states.

"Our objective is to represent a diverse lineup of asset managers that can help solve the biggest client and consultant concerns," Thompson states.

"We're in talks with a couple of different firms," Chun adds. "We should have some announcements certainly by the end of this month."

Watch for the trio to build out their team, too, but selectively.

"This is not about unlimited numbers of wholesalers. It's about being really targeted, using digital marketing," Chun says. "It's no longer cold calls and branch walkthroughs.:

Chun joined Miller/Howard in 1999, and since then he served as director of operations and director of sales and marketing before shifting to director of product and marketing development in 2019. Earlier on, he worked at Paperhouse Productions.

Theeuwes joined Miller/Howard in 2007, serving as western division director and then rising to national sales manager in 2019. Earlier on, he worked at U.S. Trust, Managers Investment Group, and Van Kampen. He is an alumnus of the University of Houston.

Thompson also joined Miller/Howard in 2007. Before that, he worked at Ashfield Capital Partners and as an FA at Morgan Stanley. He is an alumnus of Rutgers. 

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