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A glimpse inside Russell's advisor event in Seattle

Invitees get full access to the big manager's top analysts who see volatility spikes

Monday, February 21, 2011 – 5:26 AM by Brooke Southall
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Erik Ristuben: By giving our advisor clients direct access to our global team of strategists, we are aiming to help them better understand the nuances and opportunities in the global investing landscape.

Brooke’s Note: Northwestern Mutual advertises itself as the 'quiet company’ but Russell Investments, which is owned by Northwestern, could also use that tagline. When I came into the RIA business as a beat writer in 2000, Russell Investments made lots of noise as a turnkey asset management program for RIAs. It had a fanatical following similar to what Dimensional Fund Advisors enjoys today for its mutual funds among certain advisors. By 2005, it had begun to rely much more heavily on companies like Northwestern and Dain Rauscher than RIAs for distribution. SEI and Genworth-AssetMark now mostly have higher profiles in the RIA market among TAMPs. That Russell held a conference last week in Seattle and invited some RIAs, I count as a good sign. Its a sleeping giant that should make more noise in the RIA world.

Russell’s Investments is forecasting a continuation of the slow, grinding economic recovery that will be the backdrop for strength in global corporate profits and strong corporate balance sheets, the company’s analysts told the heads of 30 RIAs and IBDs at a high-level briefing at its gleaming new Seattle headquarters held last Thursday. See: Russell Investments to leave Tacoma

Headline-grabbing risks

Yet Russell’s strategist team also expects periodic headline-grabbing risks to continue to cause volatility spikes, and that these will likely punctuate capital market moves.

The Russell Annual Global Outlook covered eight issues and themes that Russell believes will have the greatest impact on markets and asset returns in 2011, spanning the global equity outlook, the U.S. macroeconomic outlook, fixed income, Europe, emerging markets, currency, commodities and other real assets.

The event showed that there are major pitfalls to global investing but that the opportunities are more encouraging than discouraging, said Peter Rekstad, managing principal of TruNorth, which manages $165 million of AUM from St. Paul, Minn.

“I’m more inclined” to invest globally, he says

He said that the event served a couple of different purposes for him.

Exit the snowbank

“I did it to get out of the snowbank. I also came to Russell to help match portfolios to clients needs.”

Russell’s global team of investment strategists convened to speak with its advisor clients. The seven-member team consists of Erik Ristuben, chief investment officer, client investment strategies; Mike Dueker, chief economist; Andrew Pease, chief investment strategist, Asia-Pacific; John Velis, head of capital markets research, Europe; Steve Wood, chief market strategist, North America; Doug Gordon, senior investment strategist, North America; and Shailesh Kshatriya, senior investment analyst.

The team discussed how the global picture affects the conversations advisors are having with clients.

The event is as good as the quality of the assembled strategists, Rekstad says. He uses Schwab Advisor Services for custody and fulfills his plans mostly with Russell mutual funds.

“This has been the most remarkable meeting. Usually I see the U.S. folks but now I see the folks from Europe and Asia.”

Getting advisors attuned to global possibilities is the object of the event, Ristuben says in a release. Russell has $155 billion in assets under management as of Dec. 31 in its mutual funds, retirement products, and institutional funds, and is recognized for its depth of research and quality of manager selection.

Not as it was

“Russell is constantly encouraging investors to invest in the world as it is becoming – not as it was. Globalization continues at a rapid clip. By giving our advisor clients direct access to our global team of strategists, we are aiming to help them better understand the nuances and opportunities in the global investing landscape, so that they can optimize their clients’ financial plans over the long term.”


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