Simon Wotherspoon (left) and Andrew Polson

Institutional investment researcher Frontier Advisors has expanded its client base, partnering with self-licensed advice practice Perks Private Wealth.

The partnership is the first of its kind for Frontier, which primarily advises institutional clients with $600 billion in funds under advice and is best known for its work with industry funds.

Perks is a self-licensed, South Australian-based wealth advisory firm with 200 staff and $1.2 billion in funds under management.

Frontier CEO Andrew Polson tells Professional Planner the researcher has partnered over the last couple of years with boutique investment consultant Context Capital to bring more institutional- grade advice to the wealth market.

“For time now we’ve been looking at the wealth space and probably about three years ago really started talking with some partners in the space,” he says.

There are plans to growth further in the market, but Polson says the aim is to “walk before we run”.

“This is a slightly different arrangement not just for the prospective clients but for also platforms to understand how this can come together,” Polson says.

“For us, both on our own and with Context, we are looking at that part of the market closely and indeed there is a solid pipeline there. We see this becoming a much bigger part of our business in time.”

The other areas Frontier has expanded into include small institutions in the endowment and not-for-profit market, including universities and governments.

Polson says more than half of the firm’s clients now come from outside the super fund sector.

“We’ve been diversifying our business for many years now, since probably about 2014 that journey started for us,” Polson says. “More than half of our clients now come from outside the superannuation fund space.”

Frontier will provide advice, but decision making is made by the Perks Private Wealth Investment Committee, which is chaired by Christo Hall.

Hall’s experience includes helping to oversee the $35 billion Asian Fundamental Equities team at BlackRock. More recently he was CIO of Australian investment manager Ellerston Capital. Currently he also holds non-executive director positions at FundsSA and AMP Superannuation.

Frontier will provide independent oversight of Perks’ governance structure and the advisers will have access to Frontier’s technology platform, research and market insights.

“We have been on the path for the last number of years [for] how do we institutionalise or at least give institutional strength to our investment committee so we can have the best access to research… and how do we blend that with a personalised service,” Perks Private Wealth director Simon Wotherspoon says.

“We went out and spoke to all the big institutional-strength asset consultants and went through a process and ultimately concluded Frontier was the right choice for us.”

While Wotherspoon says PPW drove the partnership the fact that Frontier were interested in getting into the wealth space helped.

“It’s been extremely difficult to have this quality of research and capabilities and sophistication connected with a private wealth firm, certainly one that’s self-licensed and not having linkages through to a bank,” Wotherspoon says.

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