The WSR Wealth Exemplar Awards for Alternative Investments Firm of the Year go to the top three firms that provide a platform for helping financial advisors align alternative assets with their retail investor clients.
Earning its second Wealth Exemplar Award in a row, CAIS continues to hold a leading position in alternatives, supporting over 32,000 financial advisors who oversee more than $4 trillion in network assets. The firm’s marketplace for advisors provides access to over 120 managers, and the firm provides custom funds services and structured notes access, in addition to due diligence by Mercer and education through CAIS IQ online learning.
In October, the firm launched a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform called CAIS Solutions that centralizes and streamlines alternative investments for advisors, regardless of source. In the same month, it expanded its menu of strategies with launches and additions from the alternative asset managers Apollo Global Management, Ares Management, Bain Capital, Blue Owl Capital, the Carlyle Group, Fidelity Investments, Franklin Templeton, KKR, Neuberger Berman, Nuveen, Partners Group and StepStone Group.
In November, it announced a partnership with BNY Mellon’s Pershing to offer over 300 alternative investments from CAIS to users of the Pershing Alternative Investment Solutions through the NetX360+ custodial platform, with no custody or transaction fees.
Freestone Capital Management
Founded in 1999, 70% of independently owned, fee-only Freestone Capital Management’s 26 advisors own equity in the firm. Of the firm’s $8.7 billion in assets, almost $2.3 billion are in alternative investments. The firm boasts a 95% client retention rate and has averaged $113 million per advisor in new client assets under management (AUM) for the past three years. The firm maintains five offices in three states: Seattle, Washington; Anchorage, Alaska; and three in California – San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Santa Barbara.
With services ranging across tax, philanthropy, insurance, estate planning, investment management and financial planning, Freestone places emphasis on alternative investment strategies including private equity, real estate, niche specialties, multi-strategy and hedges. The firm provides funds in such niches as Kentucky bourbon, affordable housing, manufactured housing communities and litigation finance.
Opto Investments emerged on the scene from operating in “stealth mode” with a $145 million investment in September 2022 and quickly moved to solidify a position in wealth management as a private markets investment platform with over 300 RIA users and $700 million in commitments. The firm’s business model positions it as a partner with advisors and their clients. It incorporates a due diligence process and multi-manager approach to curating investment opportunities.
In September 2023, the firm enhanced its custom fund offerings aimed at advisors’ high and ultra-high net worth clients, enabling white-label fund strategies for private credit, equity, real estate, venture capital and infrastructure. The firm also forged partnerships with Merchant, tru Independence and Nitrogen last year. In April, the firm announced the formation of an advisory council. In July, it was named the Best Alternative Investment Platform in the FinTech Breakthrough Awards.
Michael Madden, Contributing Editor & Research Analyst at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at email@example.com.