With investor trust declining, it may seem like a bad time to launch a new asset management firm, but that’s exactly what Balentine has done.
After launching last month with $250 million in assets under management and $1 billion expected by the end of the summer, Balentine’s employee-owned firm seems hopes it is exactly wha what investors want.
“We listened to our clients and they told us two things: they were confused about who they could trust and they were looking for people that could act more nimbly and with greater agility than most asset mangers,” Adrian Cronje, Balentine’s chief investment officer said in an interview Thursday.
To gain clients trust, he said, his team created an independently-owned firm that is not a broker-dealer, which means it does not trade or manufacture investment products.
“We are positioning ourselves as client advocates to sit on the same side of the table as our clients do,” he said. “We are in the business of doing one thing and one thing only: to be an asset strategist.”
Cronje said Balentine can move more quickly than other firms because they make agreements with clients ahead of time so that the firm can rebalance and make investment decisions on their own. This mean that advisors don't have to wait three months for investment committees to meet. “We combine the best of traditional consulting with the agility of money management,” he said.
The response from new clients has been overwhelming, Cronje said. A lot of endowments and family foundations, he said, are excluding any firm that is affiliated with a bank or a broker dealer or any firm that is manufacturing its own proprietary products.
Balentine’s client and partner assets will be held at Pershing, a Jersey City, N.J., based subsidiary of Bank of New York Mellon Corp. [BK] Alignment with clients and lack of financial conflict are key cornerstones of Balentine's overall management philosophy, the firm said.
Robert M. Balentine, the company's chairman, said that the time is right for the firm.
“We emphasize creativity and process because we see investing as both art and science," he said. "Our unconventional thinking on markets, risk, asset allocation and investment selection challenges convention, and our clients benefit from this approach.”
In creating the team, which has 17 staff members, it specifically sought senior advisers with direct experience managing large pools of capital, Balentine said.
The new company is backed by Rosemont Investment Partners, LLC, a private equity investor in asset management companies.