Strengthening M&A Wave Remapping RIA Landscape
The rapid pace of consolidation in the RIA business is creating new realities for advisors.
Matthew C. Straut is head of the Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) channel at OppenheimerFunds. He and his team are responsible for distributing the firm’s investment strategies to RIAs and personal investing platform participants.
Matthew has more than 20 years of experience in sales, sales management, and business management roles in the asset-management industry. Before joining OppenheimerFunds in 2014, he was a vice president at Wells Fargo Asset Management, where he oversaw the RIA and Personal Investing Platforms, and Defined Contribution Investment Only (DCIO) Channels.
Matthew was responsible for creation and execution of a business plan to grow sales and gain market share in these rapidly growing segments of the advice market.
Matthew has a B.S. in marketing from Providence College, and has earned the Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA®) designation. He resides in Hanover, MA, with his wife and four children.
What do you consider the greatest challenges today for the RIA Channel, and how are you helping your clients address them?
For all the value they can offer clients, RIAs today, I know, are having to fend off challenges from multiple directions. Robo-advisors are becoming more prominent in the industry. The regulatory landscape and the U.S. Department of Labor’s fiduciary proposal in particular, are creating more uncertainty for the RIA community and their clients. Wealth managers also have to continually evaluate their investment selection skills relative to passive investments. The multitude of investment options have become even more diverse, so advisors have to thoroughly understand the increasingly complex investment landscape available today, in addition to keeping up with developments in all the traditional asset classes. Adding to the mix is the fact that a huge transfer of wealth is taking place in our country, and the evidence suggests a majority of advisors lose their relationships with families when the money moves to the next generation.
It can feel overwhelming, but I know the best RIAs can rise to every one of these challenges. As a firm, we are committed to providing resources, insights and a partnership that can help RIAs address these challenges.
What is unique about what OppenheimerFunds offers the RIA Channel?
One of the differentiators lies in the approach we take when serving our clients. Our business plan calls for each consultant to identify a small, but clearly-defined group of firms which are best suited to find value in a relationship with OppenheimerFunds. We aren’t trying to be all things to every RIA, but rather employ a significant focus on a smaller subset of the universe, allowing for stronger relationships, centered on deeper engagement.
Our dedicated consultants are experienced working in this channel. They can explain in detail the investment options we offer, and they are connected with our portfolio management teams so they can share in-depth insights on the markets and the opportunities our portfolio teams are identifying.
We also provide access to national experts on issues like wealth transfer, family dynamics and connecting with millennials, and we share these experts’ insights in ways that can be easily understood and immediately acted upon. We are invested in helping RIAs generate and preserve wealth for their clients, and we are committed to helping RIAs enhance and grow their businesses.
I think what truly differentiates us is that we understand the key to success in this business isn’t pushing our own agenda. It’s about taking the time to understand what clients are hoping to achieve, and then helping them find ways to reach those goals.
Why did you get into this business, and what are the personal goals that drive how you conduct business with clients?
This was the right career choice for me because it enables me to combine the two things I enjoy most and believe I have some skills with—working and connecting with people, and analyzing and evaluating data to gain a competitive advantage. It’s fun for me to have a job that requires using both sides of my brain—the logical and analytical capabilities required to understand investments, and the creativity and empathy needed to make real connections with people who have a range of backgrounds and personal styles.
Building relationships, as everyone who works in this business knows, takes time, but nothing is more rewarding than when you’ve built people’s trust in you, and you can make a meaningful difference in their lives as you help advisors and their clients reach their personal goals. The satisfaction which comes from that interaction is what drives me each and every day.