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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Montage's Henson: Advisors Give You Only 20-Seconds

Reported by Tommy Fernandez

For Gary Henson, president and chief investment officer of Montage, every pitch to a potential RIA or private bank client rides on a crucial 20-second opportunity, when the client just, just, might be open to what you are offering.

After all those initial calls, after all the chit chat and conversations about kids, teams, ya-ta-ta, ya-ta-ta, the target's mind opens up 20-seconds to the crazy idea of actually buying funds from you.

It's up to you not to screw that up.

"You only have 20-seconds to get a decision-makers' attention. You have only that time, maybe less to win or loss their heart and mind," Henson recently told MFWire.

Much of Montage's recent success, such as last year's 56% jump in AUM to $20 billion, and its product launch lineup for this year, is the product of Henson and his colleagues focusing their sales and product development strategies such that Montage sales folk don't blow those crucial 20-seconds.

Henson and his colleagues hired an additional 15 sales and distribution folk last year to promote Montage's lineup to advisors and private banks, which are the firm's major targets for this year.

We made a conscious decision to get some of the private banks. Simply because the gatekeepers are very sophisticated and are looking for product is uncorrelated. Many of our products fit these characteristics. With private banks, once they make a decision, the flows are significant and constant. They love to discover boutique managers. They want to find people before everybody else has found them.

So, gatekeepers want to meet boutique managers. You don't have to fight as hard to get an introduction. However, you have to fight really hard to get through their due diligence process, which is long and arduous.

One of the keys for success with both target markets, according to Henson, focus on products that provide little downside. The Sortino Ratio is big with Montage's PMs and sales folk. Henson also makes certain to strictly divide the functions of sales and advise between two different kinds of staff. He jokes that the advice folk are those who go to a party, have a drink and talk to two or three different people. The sales folk are those who yuk it up with 15 or 20 people and follow up with all them with cards and calls soon after.

A key strategy in Montage's sales folk, leveraging all the business practice insights from sister company, Mariner Wealth Advisors. For example, at RIA events like Schwab, Henson frequently brings experts from Mariner to discuss their own best practices on running an advisor business. Montage also regularly picks the brains of his counterparts at Mariner when it comes to product development as well.

"We understand how RIAs work and willing to share best practices. We know very well what their lives are like, what it's like to talk with clients all day long," he said. 

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