The Bycoff Group’s Emphasis on Asset Management in an Industry Emphasizing Coaching and Planning Is Resonating During Times of Increased Market Volatility
When Lorne and Doug Bycoff took their independent wealth management firm, The Bycoff Group, independent in 2020, they wanted to do something different for their clients.
Too often, the brothers say, investors get shoehorned into investment strategies that seemed too opaque and often missed the boat on where the most trendsetting companies were headed.
In an industry where the emphasis for many financial advisors has decisively shifted to planning, coaching and outsourced asset management using third-party strategies, the Bycoff brothers stand out with their adherence to directly building and managing client portfolios – Frequently referred to in the industry as the “Rep as PM (Portfolio Manager)” model.
Rep As PM Isn’t Dead
Under the Rep as PM model, Lorne and Doug Bycoff have been using their expertise in equity analysis and research to build portfolios around themes of sustainability, innovation and technology. Since going independent, they’ve built their fledgling business into a firm that manages more than $50 million in assets for individuals, businesses and institutions.
Natives of Hingham, Mass., the brothers started out their wealth management careers at Merrill Lynch, following tenures at several other prominent financial services firms, such as Point72, the hedge fund, as well as Honeycomb Asset Management.
We recently sat down with Lorne Bycoff, the firm’s CEO, and Doug Bycoff, who serves as the firm’s Chief Investment Officer, to get their insights on the Rep as PM model – And why their increasingly unique emphasis on this approach helps The Bycoff Group stand out more effectively in winning and serving clients.
WSR: It’s pretty rare to encounter such passionately pro-Rep as PM perspectives, especially among independent financial advisors who are in their 30s, like you. What drives your enthusiasm for being asset managers, first and foremost?
Lorne Bycoff: We founded the Bycoff Group in 2018 on the basic belief that there is a better way to build investment portfolios. Our approach focuses on the dynamic companies that shape our world – tech firms, consumer-focused companies, sustainable-energy innovators, to name a few categories – rather than spreading capital around to diversify for diversification’s sake.
We diligently invest in these companies and themes to drive portfolio growth. In so doing, we deliver access to our unique strategies and services to high-net worth individuals and families, as well as foundations, endowments, non-profits and other institutions.
Doug Bycoff: I’d also emphasize that we believe we can be an important component of any client’s investment approach. Digital technology makes it seamless to integrate multiple investment accounts in one view. That makes us very comfortable managing money alongside other strategies clients may be invested in because our portfolios scale to multiple clients.
WSR: Over the past several years in particular, industry pundits have been promoting the idea that financial advisors should fully focus on being holistic planners and financial coaches versus being asset managers. What’s your view on this trend?
Lorne Bycoff: We are sticking with the Rep as PM approach because we wanted to align the way we manage our money and our family’s money with the way we manage our clients’ money. We believe it’s the best way to manage money, and our results have born that out to date. We recognize that many advisors opt to outsource asset management because they don’t want to delve into the nitty-gritty details of equity research and analysis. How they want to service clients is their prerogative, but we have never believed that approach suited us and those we serve.
Doug Bycoff: Given our experience at elite investment management firms, including hedge funds and private equity firms, we believe we have the background and expertise to add value for investors as portfolio managers – value that they can’t get elsewhere. Our service model centers on the growth-driven portfolios we actively manage on our clients’ behalf, investing our own capital in the same strategies. This approach sets the Bycoff Group apart from many other financial advisors who may recommend third-party products in which they have no personal stakes.
WSR: In your view, how has financial planning become commoditized and cookie cutter in many instances?
Lorne Bycoff: Too often, advisors that outsource asset management shunt their clients’ capital into black-box strategies that don’t give them much flexibility or even transparency into where their money is going. Without a clear understanding of what’s driving results, it can be difficult to make investment decisions in a thoughtful way. We believe that clients benefit by being ‘closer’ to the strategies they are investing in.
Doug Bycoff: We’re fond of saying that our clients always have access to a Bycoff. That’s not just a slogan – our clients, by virtue of the personal approach we take with each one of them, have direct line-of-sight into how we are allocating their assets. They don’t necessarily get that with other advisors.
WSR: What are the top elements of a successful “Rep as PM” strategy for an independent financial advisor business, based on your experience?
Lorne Bycoff: Clearly, investment acumen is absolutely necessary. The market ebbs and flows, and there are times when investors should not “try this at home.” Professional experience also matters – having some years under your belt is important.
Doug Bycoff: In general, we feel clients should consider the overall package of what an advisor brings to the table – Being thoughtful, having good common sense and being a good person are all important attributes.
Michael Madden, Contributing Editor & Research Analyst, can be reached at email@example.com