Addepar CEO Eric Poirier recently sat down with Geller Advisors’ Chief Investment Officer Robert Wedeking and Chief Client Officer Scott Bush to discuss how Geller remains resilient despite protracted market volatility. Geller, an independent investment manager, provides customized investment strategies for approximately 25 families with $9 billion in assets under management.
Leveraging lessons learned
When the pandemic hit, Geller quickly pivoted to accommodate a remote workforce and very anxious clients. Rob Wedeking says, “It was a scary time with no real historic context in terms of global impact, other than an event like a war. We had an almost instant drop in equity markets, fixed income and credit markets.” As Scott Bush explains, Geller’s emphasis on “maniacal execution” meant first ensuring their own team was supported in all respects in order to reassure and calm their clients.
The team at Geller learned how to be agile during the pandemic and leveraged those lessons when facing the unexpected turns of 2022.
Working remotely, the Geller team was prepared with the technology and timely data they needed to answer pressing client questions including: “Where do I stand now and how am I positioned?” Importantly, the investment team had the expertise and the right information to ease client fears and temper decisions that might have led to liquidating portfolios and going completely to cash. As Scott Bush puts it, “We cleared out the bramble getting in the way of good, quality decisions that a family needs to make for their future.”
Ensuring access to the data you’ll need
Geller’s clients often have a substantial portion of their wealth in illiquid or thinly traded assets, such as hedge funds and private equity, a practice that’s increasingly common for larger portfolios that are allocated over longer time horizons and designed to withstand market cycles. As market volatility and dislocation disrupt certain investment processes, it creates opportunities for counter-cyclical offerings and deepening client relationships by thoughtfully shifting portfolios to benefit from size, scale and duration of private market investments.
“When you manage private investments, you get pretty much one data point a month from your hedge fund, and with private equity, everything's on a lag. How can we know if those valuations are really accurate?” Wedeking explains. He uses technologies to validate how a manager said an opportunity would perform versus how it actually plays out in the performance data.
Staying focused on opportunity
While Wedeking believes volatility will continue for the foreseeable future, he does see some interesting investment opportunities ahead. “We have the central banks with their thumbs off the scale, so it's created a lot of opportunities for trading strategies. The world looks very interesting again for global macro commodity traders. Actually, I think, for alternative investments also – there's a potential to be in this new golden age again, where they can actually make money.” Wedeking notes “this volatile range, where we're kind of stuck” also presents other opportunities in bonds, private equity and some niche, though slightly “boring” strategies that he covers in more detail in the replay.
From the client’s perspective, Scott Bush explains, "I see this time as an opportunity to really bring back alpha opportunities. Now, whether those are boring things or sexy things — as long as they ladder up to actually helping clients deliver on their goals and objectives, then we're succeeding and able to grow a more lasting business."
Watch the entire interview here.