By Jason Barsema – President & CoFounder
During my recent travels, I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks in Asia visiting with some of the world’s largest banks, investment funds, and strategic partners, as Halo looks to open an office in Singapore and raise a large equity round to expand our independent, multi-issuer platform for Structured Notes.
These are exciting times for our company, and after my return to our home base in Chicago, I wanted to share some thoughts about where we came from and where we’re going.
From the start, Halo has been about achieving a greater good. This is the first line of our Employee Handbook: “Halo puts impact before profits.”
This isn’t a buzz phrase we created for marketing because these days it’s cool to have a social mission. We mean it: impact before profits. It’s in our blood, and it’s woven into Halo’s corporate DNA.
When I’m meeting with a potential partner or interviewing a potential new hire and he or she asks about the firm’s culture, this is what I point to. Our goal is to leave the investment landscape a better place than how we found it.
How exactly are we going to do that?
I got my start managing portfolios for ultra-high-net-worth families and institutions at Credit Suisse, where I was fortunate enough to work with some of the brightest money managers on the planet.
What I found most interesting about my clients is that while they were very wealthy, they all had the same investment mandate:
1. Make me 5-7% returns on the money I give you.
2. Don’t lose my money.
This sounds simple enough, but can be quite difficult to do without the right tools. My colleagues and I struggled to identify the best method for achieving our clients’ financial goals.
That all changed when we found Structured Notes. Put simply, Structured Notes were able to provide my clients exposure to the market and make money as it went up, and a substantial level of downside investment protection if it went down. Structured notes can also provide a fixed return if the market is flat to down. I call the former a Growth Product, and the latter an Income Product because it provided a fixed yield paid in cash each quarter.
Structured notes helped us to achieve our clients’ return goals with a substantially higher probability and lower risk, especially during uncertain market conditions. When implemented in the right way, Structured Notes are some of the most elegant investment tools I’ve ever used.
Giving everyone access to Structured Notes is the reason we started Halo. We thought it was wrong that my Credit Suisse clients had access to these great products, but the people who needed them the most — the 99% of us who are just trying to save or get through retirement with reasonable certainty — are the very ones who don’t have access to it.
Before Halo, Structured Notes suffered from a lack of transparency, inefficient pricing, and illiquidity. All of these problems can be fixed with technology. So that’s what we set out to change, and that’s how Halo is going to make the investing landscape a better place.
We’ve been fortunate enough to do well in this mission. We’ve partnered with banks and wealth managers all around the world and developed a fintech platform that makes it easier for them to distribute Structured Notes to clients who have never had access before.
The last two years have been one of the most challenging political and economic environments that I’ve ever seen. In many ways, navigating the market with an individual client’s return profile in mind has become more difficult to do now than it was during the financial crisis.
The explosive growth in our platform over those same years has strengthened our conviction in our mission. We have a number of exciting new developments that we will soon be announcing. As we work to further democratize investing and continue providing faster and more efficient access to Structured Notes, I look forward to sharing that news with you.