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Centralization at the core of scaling alts adoption


Over the past 24 months, demand for alternative investments within the independent wealth channel has been accelerating. That acceleration is twofold: More independent wealth advisors are adding alts allocations to traditional 60/40 portfolios many for the first time while asset managers have facilitated this movement as they increasingly seek access to wealth management

The independent advisor community and asset managers are now focused on each other, and as a platform that brings them together, we are seeing what happens at that unique intersection firsthand. The number of funds on the CAIS Marketplace has doubled, and our network assets have grown to nearly $4.5 trillion across more than 34,000 financial advisors. 

Adoption driven by centralization 

The desire for centralization during a time of expanding possibilities is at the core of what we see among the wealth platforms, and CAIS can help with that. We can cater to advisors who prefer to use the CAIS Marketplace, where every offering is independently reviewed and diligenced by Mercer. At the same time, advisors can leverage CAIS Solutions for ideas they source and diligence on their own by using our trade and post-trade technology versus manual processes for completing subscription documents and scraping PDFs for reporting. The CAIS platform automates these processes, saving advisors and their teams hours of work. 

Advisors benefit from centralization as it helps them streamline the alternative investment life cycle. Rather than navigating various platforms to access, source, and manage their alts, they are saving time and effort by coming to one platform where they can do it all. With that in mind, we have built a platform that any advisor in the independent wealth community can come to as their one-stop shop. Across CAIS Marketplace, CAIS Structured Investments, CAIS Solutions, and CAIS Custom Funds, we provide advisors with a platform that centralizes how alts and notes are sourced, facilitated, and monitored. This centralization creates significant synergies across all four business lines, leading to efficiency at both the advisor, operations, and asset manager levels and enabling scalability in alts adoption. 

Asset managers focus on the independent wealth channel 

We see that asset managers who want to be in wealth are building their sales teams and expanding their product set. That product set leverages the structural innovation we have seen over the last four years, enabling asset managers to bring their institutional strategies in more wealth-centric structures to the wealth channel. At the same time, they realize that they need to rethink their engagement approach to the independent wealth community as there are tens of thousands of advisors who are making their own decisions. This open architecture of choice is a great opportunity; however, it comes with a big challenge for asset managers. The independent wealth channel is still fragmented, and being able to engage with advisors at scale is quite difficult relative to a wirehouse.  

With that in mind, CAIS is building tools for asset managers that enable them to understand where advisors are and what they are interested in. We can equip asset managers with the tools to engage with advisors and share their product and firm story at scale. We provide tech-enabled support and align the distribution teams of our asset managers with the CAIS team to help them connect with advisors. 

Combining our technology platform with real-world experiences 

In addition to expanding the products available on the CAIS Marketplace and growing the advisor network, we have invested significantly in our technology to empower both advisors and asset managers. Our technology team is now eight times what it was three years ago, enabling our organization to automate processes throughout the entire alternative investment life cycle for a more seamless and efficient alts experience. As we build upon and enhance our technology, independent wealth firms overcome alts ops challenges and help them scale their alts allocation.  

However, we recognize that technology alone cannot do everything, so there is a continued investment in human-to-human engagement, exemplified by initiatives like CAIS Live. 

What is CAIS Live? CAIS Live was born after the last CAIS Alternative Investment Summit, the alts industry’s marquee gathering of independent advisors and alts managers. What we realized was that the community of advisors and asset managers that joined us at the Summit truly enjoy being together live, learning from each other, and building this community of peers. And we sat back and thought we should do more. 

So, we decided to take this on the road, making it more often and more regionally based in a more intimate setting and creating an experience where we connect the alts ecosystem throughout the year and across the nation. The essence of CAIS Live is bringing together peers to learn from each other. 

CAIS Live will consist of both “Open” events for all advisors in a region and “Private Events” specific to larger wealth management platforms that want to host their own alts events powered by CAIS. The large wealth management platforms, both RIA and IBD, are increasingly interested in bringing alts capabilities to their advisors and end clients. With CAIS Live, in partnership with our advisor clients, we can continue to deliver the support they need to drive awareness, engagement, and adoption of alternative investments within their network. 

The bottom line 

As more wealth management firms recognize the value of including alternative investments in client portfolios and asset managers seek out the independent wealth channel, we think the demand for centralization of alts on CAIS is likely to increase. Our platform’s ability to streamline identifying, transacting, and monitoring alternative investments makes it an attractive option for advisors and asset managers alike. 

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