Separately Managed Accounts are accounts in each client’s name. Their assets are held and managed individually. There are no funds or accounts where assets are aggregated and then managed. This gives SS&A the ability to shape each account specifically to the client’s needs without having to compromise.
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We invest the majority of the assets we manage in accordance with a discretionary management agreement. This means that we generally do not consult with a client prior to completing a transaction. We manage client portfolios according to the IPS (Investment Policy Statement) created and agreed upon by the manager and the client, thus allowing us to execute in an efficient and timely manner a strategy the client has agreed to in principle.
We can custody nondiscretionary accounts for clients in most situations. We like to have all of a client’s securities on our platform for ease of management and planning, so we will custody these accounts for clients without managing them.
No, assets are held in accounts with independent custodians. We primarily utilize Fidelity Investments but also use other custodians when the situation calls for it.
Performance for client accounts is measured in a number of ways. The most important from a long term perspective is whether the portfolio performance is in accord with the demands of the IPS and the returns the client requires to meet their investment objectives. Performance is also measured versus various broad market indices and minimum return bogeys. Although we cannot publicly report performance on this site for compliance reasons, we will happily share our past returns with interested parties. The investment professionals at SS&A have a demonstrated track record of performance that clients have found very satisfactory.
On a quarterly basis, SS&A provides in-depth statements reporting clients’ holdings, performance, and when appropriate, tax information that details how each dollar is invested. Additionally, the custodian provides monthly statements detailing transactions and holdings. Clients may view the holdings information in their portfolio real-time via the Client Access portion of our website.
We manage our client’s assets proprietarily in-house. We do not sell products or funds or receive any sort of fee or monetary compensation from any of our custodians. Fidelity Investments is the custodian for the majority of our accounts. We feel that they provide very high quality custodial service and responsiveness. Also, the relationship with Fidelity provides us access to many functions outside of our “core competencies.” Some of these include: back office functions (tax reporting, statement generation, etc.), 529 plans, annuities, and 401k administration. We view access to the resources of such a major financial institution to be a key advantage. Our relationship with Fidelity allows us to leverage the advantages of being a small and independent firm while still offering sophisticated service and account management capabilities. Our relationships with other custodians are similar though not as significant.
Our clients have online access to view their portfolios through the Client Access portion of this website. The information is real time and shows holdings, transactions, tax information and additional useful data.
For accounts (or a family of accounts) at Fidelity over $1 million, each equity transaction costs $8.00 (up to 3,000 shares). This is one of the lowest institutional trading costs available. The trading cost is essentially a fee paid to the custodian. The transaction fee is debited out of the account at the time of trade and included in the cost basis of the security purchased or sold on a pro rata basis. Accounts that are not custodied at Fidelity may have differing commission structures.
The letters CFA after a name denote that the individual holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. The CFA designation is granted only after the candidate has garnered the requisite work experience, has committed to following the CFA Institute ethical guidelines and has successfully completed a rigorous program of testing covering fields of micro- and macroeconomics, security valuation (equity, debt, derivative instruments), portfolio management, quantitative methods and ethics. Has SS&A, any affiliate, officer, or principal been involved in any claim or litigation or other legal/regulatory proceedings, investigations or disciplinary actions relating to your investment activities? Neither SS&A nor any of its employees have ever been involved in any professional impropriety whatsoever.
Typically, the minimum relationship size that we will accept is $250,000. This is not a hard and fast rule, and certain circumstances warrant exceptions.
We charge an asset level fee that is administered each quarter on the average monthly account balance for that time period. We believe this structure aligns our interests more directly with the client’s interests. Making client accounts grow safely and investing within the parameters of the IPS is our number one objective. We abide by a fee schedule that takes into consideration the size of the account. Our fee structure is entirely transparent with the flat percentage fee being the only fee SS&A receives. There are no hidden or undisclosed charges or costs. We do not collect any other form of compensation such as 12b-1 commissions or sales loads.
Gregory Smith says it best: “Mackay and I started this business because so many in our industry have failed to put client’s needs in front of their own. Too many advisors push products that clients do not need or understand. Some wealth advisors prefer to impress with financial jargon, overly complex strategies, or frequent (often costly) tactical maneuvers. We wanted to be different. We offer simple and customized solutions to complex problems that help our clients achieve the things they want most from money: obtaining an independent retirement, educating the next generation, caring for aging parents, and creating legacies that last.”
Our current client relationships include individuals, corporations, foundations, 401k plans, trusts, pensions, and profit sharing plans.
No. SS&A is a Registered Investment Advisor. We do not collect fees from transactions; there are no fees or kickbacks received by SS&A. In most cases brokers are compensated according to the level and frequency of trades generated in a client’s account via mutual fund loads, 12b-1 fees, annuity sales and transaction costs. In contrast, we charge a flat percentage fee on the average monthly balance of the account irrespective of transaction volume or product. We feel this structure better aligns the interests of the client with the incentives of the manager. There is no benefit for SS&A in excessive trading and no incentive to put a client in high fee products. Rather we benefit from the real performance of the portfolio and its alignment with the IPS.
SS&A is wholly owned by its employees. We have no parent company or subsidiaries. SS&A employees largely manage their personal money in the same way we manage our clients’ money. With both our personal wealth and ownership in the firm dependent on the success of our clients, you can rest assured that the long term success of our clients, and thus the firm, is our sole focus.
We are available for as much or as little communication as the client desires. We have found that some clients prefer a hands off approach and only meet with us once a year, the minimum we require. However, some clients prefer more frequent communication and we speak with some as often as once per week. We help facilitate communication with the other professionals involved in managing your wealth by coordinating with each client’s accountant, lawyers, and other money managers to ensure their estate is cared for from every angle. Being proactive about potential client needs or adjusting circumstances is another facet of caring about the relationship. If there is something that can be done or should be done to improve a client’s financial picture we will discuss it with the client. We realize that our clients have enormous faith in us by entrusting us with their financial well being. At a minimum we feel that clients should feel a level of comfort and familiarity with us. Tough questions can be asked and tough, honest answers are given in return.