Altair Advisers aims to grow by playing to the strengths of its people, according to its CEO.
“Together, as a team, we make the whole thing better,” Rebekah Kohmescher, the firm’s CEO, said at this week’s Insite 2021 conference organized by BNY Mellon’s Pershing. We’re “not just an assemblage of advisors anymore.”
Specialization is key for the Chicago-based registered investment advisor firm, which has 53 employees, according to information on its SEC form ADV.
“My strength is working on the business, not in the business, so I’ve specialized,” said Kohmescher, who is responsible for the overall management of the firm while also serving as head of compliance.
“I have partners who are client facing who are very good at serving their clients and not as good at bringing in business, so I’ve allowed them to specialize,” she added. “And I have the reverse — people who are really good at bringing in business, so I give them the time and the capacity to do that.”
One of the ways of ensuring that Altair continues to remain an independent, employee-owned firm is by extending ownership opportunities to new partners, according to information on the firm’s website.
In January, for example, Rachael Halstuk Mangoubi and David Lin joined the Altair ownership group.
Altair’s main goal is to provide investment planning advice, according to Kohmescher.
Ben Harrison, co-head of wealth solutions at Pershing, noted at the conference that the guidance clients are seeking from advisors has evolved.
“It’s not that clients don’t continue to have expectations around the traditional blocking and tackling, the investment management,” he said. “But the expansion of what they expect from their financial professional and wealth manager around the areas of focus of their lives is critically important.”
For Altair, this means looking at clients not as individuals but as family units. The firm has around $6 billion in client assets, mostly from high-net-worth clients, according to information on its SEC form ADV.
“Firms that are working with high-net-worth families like we are really need to think of their clients as families, not as one person, and they need to figure out how to serve a family,” Altair’s Kohmescher said.
This includes helping parents “communicate the mission of their money” to the rest of the family, she said. “That’s a real discipline that we can help our clients with, in the same way that we help them decide on asset allocation.”
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