EXCLUSIVE: Burney Selects Goldman Custody, Firms Discuss Future Of Custodial Space

Julius Buchanan, Editor in Chief, Wealth Solutions Report

$2.4 Billion RIA With Proprietary Investment Management System Chooses Goldman, Firms Expand On Custodianship For Alts And Customized Portfolios

Reston, Virginia-based RIA Burney Company, with $2.4 billion in client assets, announced that it will add Goldman Sachs Advisor Solutions (GSAS) as a custody provider.

Burney’s President and Chairman, Lowell Pratt, Jr., said, “Goldman Sachs provides us with the access and resources to differentiate our client experience to support sophisticated client needs. Our relationship with Goldman will continue our 50-year legacy of delivering excellence to our clients.”

Lowell Pratt, Jr., President & Chairman, Burney Company

Founded in 1974, Burney provides financial plans, retirement plans, personalized portfolios, investment management and wealth management advice. The firm has worked with multiple custodians for decades. “We believe in providing our clients choice when it comes to custodians,” said Pratt, who has 37 years of experience in wealth management.

“GSAS offers a superior alternatives platform, enabling our advisors to access sophisticated solutions that extend beyond the traditional 60/40 model,” said the firm’s Managing Partner, Adam Newman. “By using GSAS’ platform to execute a cost-efficient alternatives strategy, we’re better able to serve the financial objectives of our clients’ unique needs.”

Adam Newman, Managing Partner, Burney Company

Richard Lofgren, Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, said, “We are excited to work with the team at Burney, and their selection of GSAS as a new custodian reinforces our belief in more custodial choice. We look forward to providing them with access to our innovative tools as we continue to deliver solutions that raise the bar on client experience.”

According to Lofgren, the momentum behind recruiting Burney one week after announcing a relationship with Creative Planning comes from “an increasing appetite by the end investor, who realizes and recognizes the importance of independent advice and guidance. We’re seeing inbound inquiries from advisors as they’re saying, ‘Clients’ needs are changing and there’s an increasing demand for us, and you help satisfy that piece so we can provide a different approach to solving needs.’”

Custody For Alts

Richard Lofgren, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs

To support alternative investments well, Lofgren states that a custodian needs to provide three things: transparency in the process, strong operations and access to responsive teams. Transparency should cover the entire process, including adding and servicing investments on the platform, subscription agreements and bringing clients into the alt investment.

“Strong operations are critical because clients are looking to us to be accurate,” he said. “Access to responsive teams could be a variety of different things including the thought leadership team, the business development team or the client services team.”

According to Pratt, accessing many of the better alternative investments is logistically burdensome at most custodians, but he expects a difference with the new relationship. “With GSAS’ innovative technology, this process is streamlined. Furthermore, our alternative investment opportunity set is greatly expanded.”

Custody For Customized Portfolios

Pointing out that his firm specializes in active equity investment management, Pratt states that GSAS will broaden his firm’s ability to build custom portfolios across other asset classes, and access to Goldman’s research will benefit his firm.

Lofgren points out three areas where custodians can focus to provide firm support for customization: strong and innovative technology, analytics and timeliness. The technology is employed in providing digital onboarding and in transparency in the subscription process. With analytics, Lofgren says that advisors should be able to see where relevant items are on a dashboard and go deeper as needed.

On the third item – timeliness with reporting information – Lofgren says that an advisor should “be able to touch the data and get it back out. That timely data could be from feeds that we’re providing to portfolio management systems, CRMs or trading systems. We need to provide that data back to advisors in two-way integrations so they can use and digest it to make decisions.”

Future Of The Custodial Space

Pratt says that the custodial space has witnessed great strides forward for cost reduction and use of technology, but “legacy custodians still leave a lot to be desired with the way they do paperwork. Going forward, enhancing the digital experience and offering differentiated investment solutions should be the focus.”

When I look at the independent space, I still think we’re in early innings of solutions that could be covering advisors, technology platforms and perhaps even folks that are contemplating getting into fintech or the back- or middle-office space to support advisors,” said Lofgren. “I’m very optimistic that what we’re seeing is more ‘blue ocean.’”

Lofgren continued, “You hear us talking about constantly evolving our offering, constantly evolving the platform, and part of that is because the needs of clients continue to evolve as well. You’re seeing folks roll over significant assets in a corporate retirement plan or selling a business – they need some advice and guidance, or want to travel or spend time with family – and really want the professional to help.”

Julius Buchanan, Editor in Chief at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at jbuchanan@wealthsolutionsreport.com.

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