We love getting to know our Shift members on a level that goes deeper than the surface. Each month we highlight a group from the Shift Workspaces community to learn more about. This month, we interviewed EPIC from Shift Workspaces Bannock. We hope you enjoy getting to know more about EPIC as much as we did!
- Tell us, what is EPIC and what does your firm specialize in?
Evolution Private Investment Collective (EPIC), is a Denver-based asset management firm opening up private markets by connecting three stakeholder groups with unique problems: individuals, their financial advisors, and the managers to whom the firm allocates capital. EPIC was incubated inside a large multi-family office and now operates independently. Our flagship fund series is designed to empower financial advisors to focus on achieving their clients’ financial objectives through a diversified allocation to private markets.
- What are EPIC’s core values? How do they inform how your company serves clients?
EPIC’s mission is to make private markets simple and accessible for everyone. Right now, this means that we are focused on expanding the private market investor base. Historically, private markets have been dominated by large institutional investors such as university endowments or public pensions. Through our innovative fund structure, our transparent fees, and our focus on lower-middle market investment opportunities, we enable individuals and their families to confidentially invest in private markets.
- Speaking of clients, who is your target customer, and how do you successfully reach them?
We target individuals and their families, often working in partnership with that individual’s financial advisor. We have implemented a B2B2C model whereby we are focused on establishing relationships with independent RIAs (Registered Investment Advisors) who wish to offer their clients private investment opportunities via our strategies.
- What makes EPIC different from your competitors?
Our competitors often pitch financial advisors and their clients a story of access as the sole solution to participate in private markets. Realistically, in addition to access, advisors need to be confident that they are investing in high-quality opportunities, meeting client investment objectives, and offering a scalable and consistent strategy. All without significantly increasing their overhead and introducing administrative complications. We believe we are the only group acknowledging advisors’ needs in a holistic way.
- All companies face everyday struggles. What are some of the challenges you face as an asset management firm?
Trust is a key component of the financial services industry, and, as a result, most young financial services firms are hesitant to refer to themselves as start-ups. We are lucky enough to have a 3-year track record from our first fund which was started in 2018 when our investment team operated inside of the family office that we’ve since spun out of. That said, we face the same problems that most start-ups face: how do we establish our brand in the marketplace? where do we allocate our next dollar? and who should we hire to facilitate growth?
- What is your biggest piece of advice for those starting out in the industry?
The financial services industry is dominated by a handful of large incumbent players, which can be intimidating. But it is this dominance that creates space for smaller start-ups to differentiate themselves by embracing new ways of thinking and doing. Additionally, this market is generally ripe for innovative disruption, whereby new firms can expand the market by addressing previously unserved or under-served customer segments.
- How did the two of you become business partners? Who else is on your team?
Michael Fitzpatrick and I (Alec Garza) have known each other for close to 20 years since we both grew up in Austin, TX. We used to play football and lacrosse together in middle school and we went to high school together, and we stayed close throughout college. Over the years, Michael became a sounding board for me as I started outlining a vision for EPIC. Once I launched the firm, it was a natural progression to have Michael join the team. The two of us work with Jimmy Hirschmann who was on our legacy investment team at IWP and is our third full-time partner. We have a handful of part-time investment committee members and advisors, and we were lucky enough to also have two interns this past summer.
- Share with us how you “Make private markets simple and accessible for everyone.”
I’ll address this question in two parts. First, we make private markets simple through our customizable fund-of-funds structure that provides broad diversification to private markets while taking into consideration an investor’s objectives. Investors determine their allocation to the share classes in our fund, and from there we handle all the complexities of portfolio construction, reporting, capital calls, etc. Second, at the highest level, we make private markets accessible by developing strategies specifically designed for our target market (individuals and families) who were traditionally ignored by the incumbent players. It used to be that only large institutional investors were ever made aware of private investment opportunities; we are changing that.
- What is your long-term vision for your collective?
The long-term vision for EPIC is to facilitate a network of like-minded stakeholders (fund managers, individuals, and independent investment advisors) so that those stakeholders can realize the value created in private markets. In general, the opaque nature of private markets makes them difficult to operate in, let alone understand. By creating a network of others with similar goals, we will both encourage new participants while expanding the market itself.
- How has coming to Shift Workspaces Bannock contributed to your growth and success?
Shift lets us right-size our office space for our firm. With a dynamic team, it is important for us to have the flexibility that’s inherent in the Shift business model. Besides the business consideration, the space is enjoyable to work in and you can’t beat the people you see on a daily basis!