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Friday, June 21, 2024

Mercer Expands Private Market Access

Mercer Advisors, a wealth management and financial planning business with $60 billion in client assets, is expanding its private markets reach with the launch of the Aspen Partners platform.

Aspen Partners is a proprietary private markets platform built by Mercer Advisors with the aim of delivering institutional-grade access on institutional-grade terms to qualified individual investors. The platform will feature investments curated by Mercer and is open to qualified purchasers with investment minimums of $100,000.

“We are committed to delivering on the promise of a full-fledged family office. That means working directly with some of the world’s top private equity, venture capital, private credit, real estate and infrastructure managers to build institutional-grade portfolios for our clients — without adding exorbitant fees or expense ratios,” Mercer Advisors President Daniel Gourvitch said in a statement. “For years, the world’s leading institutional investors have benefited from incorporating well-diversified private investments into their portfolios. Too often, individuals offered ‘unique access’ to private investments end up paying high fees, invest too narrowly, and miss out on many of the better opportunities in private markets.”

“Aspen Partners is built to bring a fiduciary-centered approach to private markets by providing investors access to selectively chosen private managers,” Mercer Chief Investment Officer Donald Calcagni said in a statement. “Just as we’ve used our institutional buying power in public markets to minimize expense ratios for clients, we’ve now focused our buying power on private markets to make it easier for our qualified clients to invest alongside leading private investors.”

Mercer plans to launch several private funds diversified across multiple managers and vintages. The funds are designed to maximize the percentage of fund fees allocated to compensating top-performing managers while minimizing fees paid to intermediaries, such as fund administrators, platform sponsors, funds of funds managers or placement agents.

“Our differentiated pricing model stands in stark contrast to the industry’s prevailing pricing model, where high fees can significantly erode investor returns,” Calcagni said. “That practice makes no sense and doesn’t serve investors. We’re excited to have created a new paradigm where costs go towards bolstering expected net client returns, yet also decline as a percentage of assets as the platform grows.”

Mercer Advisors built Aspen Partners in partnership with private market fintech Opto Investments.

Mercer Advisors and Opto Investments are both independently backed by GIC, a global institutional investor.

Mercer Advisors has also expanded its private investment leadership team. Bob Burlinson will take on an expanded role as senior director, private markets. Burlinson will lead the private markets team and its manager sourcing, due diligence and monitoring efforts.

Also joining the investment team is Will Rockett, senior director, investment strategy group. Rockett, whose 25 years of asset management experience includes roles with Morgan Stanley, Charles Schwab, Nuveen, US Trust, and Barclays Capital, now leads Mercer’s team of investment strategists tasked with helping advisors build, implement and monitor private markets allocations for clients. Burlinson and Rockett will join the investment leadership team, under Calcagni.

Chris Casdia also joins Mercer as vice president, private markets compliance and operations. He brings over 15 years of financial services experience from Homrich Berg, Gratus Capital, and AXA Equitable.

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