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Rating:AB's Chris Bricker Knuckles Down on Expertise Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Friday, March 07, 2014

AB's Chris Bricker Knuckles Down on Expertise

Reported by Tommy Fernandez

Chris Bricker, head of AllianceBernstein's alternatives business, hates it when his clients get bad surprises. Which is why the 22-year AB veteran is working to significantly bulk up his teams of product experts devoted to alternatives.

"The most important thing is to get client outcomes right. There is a huge need for education around exactly what these products do. This is the next generation of portfolio diversification. We need more product management folks to make sure we are clearly articulating our message. We need more alternative specialists who can do client facing meetings," Bricker told MFWire.

AB is growing carefully, but steadily in the alternatives space, with roughly eight products that fit within the category now. Bricker said that his firm will likely add "a handful" more such products in the coming 18-months.

His team will use AB's "existing distribution footprint" to sell the products. No new wholesaler hires per se are expected. Rather, Bricker is looking to hire more product management and alternative experts to help these sales folk tell the complicated story that is alternatives to the firm's clients, many of who are high-net worth investors.

Over the past year, Bricker has also steadily built up AB's alts leadership team, bringing in between six to eight outside hires onto his team, including Michael Conn, who now serves as head of strategy and development for AB's fund of funds group.

Conn, who previously worked at TCW, inadvertently gained media attention by taking notes during a meeting of the group known as "Project G", consisting of TCW executives who discussed in the summer of 2009 plans to fire then-manager Jeffrey Gundlach. Gundlach, of course, later left the firm to start DoubleLine. Conn's notes were later used as evidence in lawsuits filed after the firing.

Bricker said of Conn: "He's done a broad range of things. He certainly takes on challenges, having done a number of different things in his career."

"We didn't necessarily want somebody who had specifically done funds of funds their entire life. We wanted somebody to take this business and growing it broadly. We loved his raw talent and creativity," Bricker said. 

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