What are you paying for?

A reflection:

I was very fortunate to be hired into the investment industry in 1981. Two gentlemen, Larry Zielinski and Ted Swedock, took a huge leap hiring a not very qualified candidate out of undergraduate business school to fill a role as an analyst in a small consulting group.  I was the first-non consultant or assistant to be hired.  The role’s responsibilities were vast, and the experience that I gained was immeasurable.

But, the most important knowledge that was shared with me was a comment that Larry made on the first day that I began working at Janney Montgomery Scott’s Investment Management Controls division.  Larry told me that anyone or any company can produce vast quantities of paper and/or fancy reports.  A consultant is only worth their salt if they have the ability to interpret the information that they are passing on and at the same time are willing to make recommendations based on their interpretation.

As I sit back today and reflect on my nearly 33 years in this business, I can’t help but remember how important those words were that Larry uttered to me in October 1981.  I’ve tried to follow his lead since day one.  Initially, I didn’t have a clue about how most things truly worked in the investment industry. Today, as we build KCS, we continue to live by Larry’s example.  We can produce all the fancy reports in the world, but they aren’t worth the paper they are printed on if we also don’t share with our clients and prospects our recommendations as to a course that they should follow.  We are Fiduciaries, and we take that responsibility seriously.

As you may know, every month we produce at least one article on an investment subject. We don’t pull any punches.  If you want to know how we feel on a subject, just go to our website and look under the heading “Publications.”  Everything that we’ve produced is there.  I don’t know how many other consultants/consulting firms are regularly producing articles, but they should at least be willing to take a stand on those subjects most important to their clients.

At KCS, we are concerned about retirement security for most Americans.  We do believe that the demise of the defined benefit plan will produce negative economic and social consequences for a large segment of our population.   We don’t think that the status quo approach to managing DB plans is working.  We believe that our clients and their beneficiaries need new thinking and approaches on a variety of retirement subjects.  We’ve articulated those.  Has your consultant? So, I ask again, are you getting what you are paying for?

Paradigm Shift or Back to the Future?

Paradigm Shift or Back to the Future?

Is the sun setting on the traditional advisory asset consulting with the dawn of the Outsourced Chief Investment Officer (OCIO)?  As biased advisory asset consultants, we really don’t believe that the day of reckoning is upon us! There remains a role for traditional asset consultants, but certainly an asset consultant’s role is evolving, and it is likely to continue.  Consultant specialist roles have been around since the early to mid 80’s, when both venture and real estate consultants first emerged, followed by consultants focusing on the broader alternative landscape.   KCS’s focus as the liability aware consultant is a unique specialty, too.  However, in most cases, the plan sponsor or asset owner retains day-to-day discretion over the asset base. With plan and fund sponsors outsourcing discretionary responsibility, the specialist role has been taken to a new level.