The One Thing That Can Accelerate Growth in the South Florida Investment Industry is … Three Things


Investment industry executives joined together for another exclusive “Kaufman, Rossin Presents: Power Lunch with Tom Hudson” on June 17th.  We asked them to fill in the end to this sentence: “The one thing that can accelerate growth in the South Florida investment industry is ______________.”   

Participants gathered for this private lunch at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Boca Raton (next to Kaufman, Rossin’s office in Mizner Park), for a lively discussion moderated by broadcaster Tom Hudson, host of the new WLRN radio program The Sunshine Economy. The firm is the exclusive sponsor for the program.

As the conversation about the investment industry developed, consensus grew around three areas that would need to be addressed to accelerate growth:  marketing, education and regulation.

Several participants noted that the South Florida market suffers from a poor image.  Chris Battifarano, CIO with Palm Equity, says his firm selects investment managers based on performance measures, not geography, but sufficient operational and compliance infrastructure are requirements, and he noted that Boca Raton in particular has a bad reputation.  The Rothstein name was noted as a contributor to this problem and, when someone countered with a question of why the name Madoff didn’t equally taint New York, the group was reminded that Madoff was also associated with Palm Beach County.  Amanda McGovern, who represented Citco in several Madoff related lawsuits, strongly supported the idea that the South Florida market could be attractive to investment industry players.

Brett Forman (Forman Capital LLC) participates in the Palm Beach Business Development Board’s efforts to bring more hedge funds to the county.  He advocated for a region-wide marketing effort.  Others agreed, suggesting that the Miami Downtown Development Authority and the Palm Beach BDB should collaborate rather than compete to attract business to the area.  The idea of marketing the region collectively has come up in many industry discussions, but so far competitiveness between counties continues to win out over collaboration.

Education came up when Kaufman, Rossin’s Bao Nguyen mentioned that the local players in the investment industry seem to be getting older.  Younger people are either not entering the market or instead doing so in other cities.  South Florida universities’ programs related to the investment industry may be less well known or may be attracting fewer students, but they definitely exist.  Arno Mayer, CFA, CFP, from Financial Trust Asset Management, notes that he studied at FAU.

Regulation was bound to be discussed, with Kaufman, Rossin’s Nick Hartofolis, CPA, CRCP, CAMS, and Bao Nguyen bringing their previous FINRA experience to the conversation.  Would smaller, newer broker dealers and funds be able to establish themselves and thrive if regulators recognized different needs for compliance based on size and tenure?  Many agreed this was an area that should be explored.

Today local technology executives will join us in Coconut Grove for an exclusive power lunch as we address this question:  “What is the biggest advantage or the most challenging obstacle for growing a tech company in South Florida?”  

You can watch videos and view photos of our power lunch series on YouTube and Flickr, and keep an eye on our blog for highlights. We invite you to join the discussion online and keep the conversation going on Twitter by following @KaufmanRossin and @WLRN and using hashtag #SunshineEconomy. Let us know what you think of the radio show and the lunch series!

Janet Altman is a Marketing Principal at Kaufman Rossin, one of the Top 100 CPA and advisory firms in the U.S.

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