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Friday, June 06, 2014

RidgeWorth's Parikh Talks Expansion, Offers Biz Advice

Reported by Anastasia Donde

RidgeWorth Investments' CEO Ashi Parikh isn't wasting any time following RidgeWorth's buyout from SunTrust Bank. As he's previously told MFWire, he has his sights set on acquisitions, product development and further distribution efforts. Ridgeworth has $50 billion in assets under management, 70 percent of which are in fixed-income and 30 percent in equities. Of that, $25 billion is in long-term mutual funds, all of which are sub-advised by Ridgeworth's own investment boutiques.

Ashi Parikh
RidgeWorth Investments
Parikh says he's been open to bringing on external sub-advisors but hasn't come across attractive opportunities there yet. Meanwhile, one of Ridgeworth's subsidiaries, fixed-income specialist Seix Investment Advisors, is working on building out its short-duration and tax-exempt bond offerings, as well as starting up several CLO products. In terms of acquisitions, Parikh said he's interested in bringing on international and global equity capabilities, as well as alternative sources of income, like real estate.

Parikh said the firm has historically pitched its mutual funds to the broker-dealer, RIA and DCI-O channels and would like to have deeper relationships with the four major wirehouses. Parikh says many of the firm's funds are well represented on these platforms, but he'd like to get more listed, as well as to ramp up investments in the funds via those platforms.

"The advisors want outcome-oriented solutions, they don't want product, so we're thinking about how we can add value to the advisors and make their practice easier: what kind of tools and resources can we offer them? In terms of coaching and education, what can we give them?" Parikh said.

When Parikh is not hopping on and off planes for client meetings and conferences, he likes to teach basketball to his kids. He has three sons and one daughter and has been living in Atlanta for the past eight years, having joined Ridgeworth in 2006 from Eagle Institutional Growth Advisors. "I do enjoy coaching multiple sports quite a bit. I like to stay involved with kids. I like teaching kids and mentoring kids, and I'm pretty good at it," Parikh says.

For networking purposes, Parikh says he enjoys the Investment Company Institute events the most, while his distribution personnel also tend to like the Mutual Fund Education Alliance courses and events. The firm has 70 people in distribution and 210 employees in total. The buyout was funded in part by Lightyear Capital. The Ridgeworth CEO recently shared some business challenges, goals and advice with MFWire. Here are some tid bits from that conversation:

MFWire: What have been some of your biggest career challenges?
Parikh: One of the constant issues is whether the market is going to be cooperative or not and do you have strategies that are going to be in favor with the marketplace? Obviously cycles come and go and strategies are going to fall in and out of favor at times. And it's a competitive industry, with many large, well-established players, so talent management and retention becomes very important. We feel very good about the way we're partnered with our talent.

MFWire: What's your strategy for retention?
Parikh: First and foremost, we want to create an environment that people want to be in and where they feel they can grow in their careers, so that involves continuous innovation and keeping everyone in the loop in a collaborative way. We also offer multi-year employment contracts and equity ownership to our key portfolio management and distribution people.

MFWire: What was the biggest highlight of your career?
Parikh: Way back when, I was named one of Barron's Top 100 mutual fund managers, but now this deal is the biggest highlight. Being able to lead a successful management buyout is a once in a two-decade type of opportunity, and it's especially exciting when it's with a firm like LightYear that understands the business and can continue to help us grow, build out our product set and better serve our clients. This is a starting gate for the next chapter.

MFWire: What's your advice to younger people starting out in asset management?
Parikh: It's an absolutely fabulous business. First and foremost, don't forget how fortunate you are to be in this business and to learn as much as possible. So learn, keep your ears open and continue to hustle. The most important thing, even though it's kind of a cliche, is you have to do the right thing for the client. If you do that, you'll have another client tomorrow, and the next day and the next day. 

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