WP recently spoke with an Oakville-based firm about its past, present and future. Despite five years of success it still faces key challenges when it comes to business development.
Every investment firm, large or small, faces the same goal: grow your business incrementally every year in terms of the number of clients, assets under management, etc. The latter in a bull market is easily accomplished while the former no matter how good you are is a much more elusive target.
Bellwether Investment Management got its start as a discretionary investment manager a little over five years ago. Targeting the high net worth individual, CEO Bob Sewell described its investment process as follows: “We use a North American dividend growth model or strategy. We’re looking for any company that trades in North America that pays a dividend and grows that dividend over time is potentially something we look to invest in. We manage everything on a North American basis versus Canada and the U.S. which is the traditional mutual fund business. We then have a risk overlay that we call ‘beta management’ that allows us to dial up or down the risk in the portfolio depending on how we see the risks in the market.”
With more than $100 million in assets under management Bellwether has laid the foundation for future growth. It doesn’t hurt that its performance since inception is almost 17 percent on annualized basis. Offering three pooled funds that take advantage of its North American dividend growth income solution, Bellwether’s next $100 million in AUM shouldn’t be nearly as difficult to obtain.
At least that’s what you would think.
However, the investment gathering business is as competitive as they come and even though Bellwether has been a success from day one, it still needs to knock on a lot of doors in order to continue the growth trajectory it’s on.
That’s where Michael “Pinball” Clemons comes in.
Joining the firm a little more than two years ago, the former Toronto Argonaut coach and player brings a level of enthusiasm to his role as senior vice president of business development that’s likely unmatched in the industry. As Sewell says, “Mike’s all about transparency and integrity… he helps us [Bellwether] open doors. It helps our brand for sure.”
Sewell was quick to remind WP that having one of Toronto’s most iconic figures on staff doesn’t necessarily guarantee sales. Ultimately, awareness is the key to Bellwether’s growth.
“It’s a matter of getting in front of the right people,” says Sewell. “Once we do our close rate is very high.”
Bellwether, like any relatively new firm, faces an awareness deficit. Look for Sewell and company to overcome this challenge in the years ahead.