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Miami magic: meeting the city's independent players

Miami magic: meeting the city's independent players

Last month Citywire’s Raj Dhaliwal headed to Miami to catch up with the local investors getting back into their routines following the disruption of Hurricane Irma.

 As we touched down in the Magic City last month, the Citywire contingent – Samantha Muratori, deputy editor Michelle Abrego, head of the Americas Marissa Lewis and me – didn’t quite know what to expect.

Of course, we had seen the news coverage of Hurricane Irma, but the first thing that struck us when we arrived was the amount of debris still strewn across the streets.

It was especially evident on many of the side streets, where tidemarks were still clear on buildings, shattered glass still lay on the ground and street signs were still knocked down. Miami had been spared the worst of the hurricane, but the city’s southern neighbors in the Keys weren’t so lucky.

We had a packed itinerary, meeting with CIOs, investment analysts and financial advisors to learn more about their businesses in the offshore industry.

To kick-start our trip, we sat down with Fernando Pardo, managing partner at Global Reach Advisors (GRA), which is an affiliate of the Global Securities Group (GSG).

GRA is an independent investment advisor specializing in wealth management services for high net worth families and individuals in Latin America. Pardo founded GRA in 2013 after more than 20 years in the industry. Most of his clients have been with him throughout his career, and it was with their encouragement that he decided to leave the big banks behind to become an independent advisor.

In order to provide a more secure future for his Latin American clients, Pardo offers global solutions that adapt to their actual needs.

Many of them want to leave a mark on this world, he says, and this is reflected in their strong interest in socially responsible investing, helping both their native communities and their new homes abroad.

Later that week we stopped by the offices of Unimar Financial Services to have a quick chat with president and CIO Jacobo Gadala-Maria and assistant vice president Richard Hutchings.

Unimar is a registered investment advisor providing discretionary asset management to individuals and institutions through separately managed accounts and privately-offered pooled investment vehicles.

The firm was founded in 2011 by Gadala-Maria with the launch of the fixed income Unimar Total Return Bond Fund. The company has grown considerably in the past six years, and now manages a total of $300 million in assets.

In the summer of 2016 the firm partnered with Insigneo to launch the Global Manager Focused Growth Fund – a daily equity fund on the Pershing platform. Unimar serves as the investment manager while Insigneo takes care of the investment advising and fund selection process.

With both of these funds on their platform, Unimar is able to create portfolios for their clients depending on their risk appetites.

The following day, a heavy downpour had me slipping and sliding down Brickell Avenue to the offices of the Ballestas Group, a Bolton Global Capital affiliate.

Once inside and dry, I met with Colombian brothers Andres and Felipe  Ballestas, both of whom are managing partners, as well as Felipe Jaramillo, a portfolio manager. Ballestas Group is an independent wealth management firm serving clients in the US, Mexico, Colombia and Spain. The brothers have a combined 51 years in the industry, having spent the majority of their careers at Merrill Lynch.

Their primary focus is wealth preservation for the families they manage. They rigorously control the exposure to investment risk while also taking advantage of market opportunities.

They do this by building four model portfolios that allow them to reduce the downside risk in the market and make the necessary adjustments depending on their client’s financial goals and liquidity needs.

The brothers see wealth management not just as a question of managing investments. Their offering combines investment consulting, wealth and asset protection and relationship management. They take a lot of pride in getting to know their client families thoroughly. Andres and Felipe share the responsibilities of business development, meeting with clients and managing risk across client portfolios.

Jaramillo was brought on to the team in 2015 as a portfolio manager and his responsibilities include portfolio construction, research and leading the investment team. Another important member of this team is Jorge Pena, a client associate, who was also hired in 2015 and who has been given the responsibilities of direct client support and customer service.

The firm kindly allowed us to sit in on their weekly investment committee meeting, in which they do a fundamental and technical market analysis, an asset allocation and risk review, a discussion of investment ideas, and also look again their performance attribution.

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