I know you all missed me these past two months, but don’t worry I’m back and have been living it up in Ohio.
Well, I say living it up. In fact, the whole trip hit a major hitch. Despite spending so much time with due diligence professionals, it turns out my own research efforts fell short when booking this trip, and I didn’t realize how far apart Columbus and Cincinnati really are.
As you can’t fly between the two cities, I thought booking a Greyhound bus would be the best solution. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only person with this idea – so I didn’t manage to get a seat.
Uber has its critics, but it sure comes in handy when a girl needs a ride! So I put my boss’s gripe about expenses to the back of my mind and sat back to enjoy a two-hour trip to Cincinnati. But first, I have a day in Columbus to tell you about.
I started out meeting three members of Nationwide Fund Advisors’ manager strategies due diligence team (pictured below, left to right) – Jessica Lau, Adam Messerschmitt and Luke Garland (no relation, I promise). Nationwide Fund Advisors is the investment advisor for the Nationwide mutual funds, housed within two trusts.
The manager strategies due diligence team oversees $65 billion of actively and passively managed assets, which are allocated to 34 subadvisors, including its affiliate Nationwide Asset Management.
Nationwide funds are offered throughout Nationwide Financial, in variable annuities, variable life insurance and on retirement platforms. The funds are also distributed through Nationwide’s financial advisor broker-dealer channel.
It has been a busy 2017 for the team, which is set to launch its first exchange-traded funds (ETFs) this September. In May, Loomis Sayles AA-rated manager Aziz Hamzaogullari was selected to run the Nationwide Loomis All Cap Growth fund, launched on 1 June. He will also run a sleeve of the NVIT Multi-Manager Large Cap Growth fund.
Other recent manager picks include Richmond, Virginia-based Thompson, Siegel and Walmsley as a subadvisor on the $900 million NVIT Multi-Manager International Value fund, and Wellington Management Company as a subadvisor on the Nationwide International Small Cap fund.
For these picks and others, the team tries to identify differentiated active managers who are not overly benchmark conscious and have a unique investment process.
After the long and admittedly very expensive Uber ride from Columbus, I finally arrived in Cincinnati to meet Tim Paulin (pictured, left), Brooks Wilhelm (pictured, right) and Brad Watterson at Touchstone Asset Management.
Paulin leads Touchstone’s investment strategy, subadvisor research and product management efforts. Watterson directs the subadvisor research team manned by Wilhelm and another analyst. At the moment they work with 18 subadvisors across 35 mutual funds.
They recently announced the acquisition of nine retail funds and four variable annuity products from Sentinel Asset Management – a deal which is expected to be completed at the end of the year and bring assets to around $20 billion.
Touchstone’s funds focus on what it calls ‘distinctively active’ single strategy, single manager funds across the asset class, geographic and style spectrums. It also offers fund of funds subadvised by Wilshire Associates, which uses Touchstone’s products and third-party ETFs.
Paulin and Wilhelm were kind enough to take me to see the Cincinnati Reds stadium after our lunch. Even though they’re not the top of the league, the stadium was quite a sight to see.
My last meeting of the day was with Ted Finlay (pictured below) at Fifth Third Bank, which manages $34 billion for individuals, corporations and not-for-profit organizations through its trust and registered investment advisory businesses. Finlay is the head of manager research for the private bank, and his team is responsible for research across mutual funds, separately managed accounts (SMAs) and ETFs. On the recommended list there are 150 mutual funds, 35 SMAs, and 75 ETFs. There is typically low turnover on the list and it’s a mix between boutique and larger asset management firms.
Finlay said 85 private bankers and internal portfolio managers use his team’s research. The group also manages discretionary model portfolios, most of which are made up of active and passive vehicles. On the active to passive debate, Finlay’s main concern is what impact outflows will have on active shops. But he’s not against index investing and his team is currently researching smart beta products for use in portfolios.
Luckily, while I was at Touchstone, Tim (a good friend of Ted) told me to make sure that the Fifth Third gatekeeper took me to Graeter’s Ice Cream & Bakery after our meeting. I ended up with a black raspberry chocolate chip ice cream on my way to the airport. What a sweet way to end the day!
My name is Amelia Garland and I am a relationship manager at Citywire. My aim is simple: to get to know the professional buyers across the US and engage with heads of manager research and due diligence, directors of investments and anyone who selects third-party products for their platform.
I am constantly on the road, if you would like me to pay you a visit, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a ring at 646-532-6301. Don’t forget to tweet @GarlandGoesWest if you would like me to visit your city.
Next stop Chicago!