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What Makes Cardinal Unique | Cardinal Investment Advisors

What Makes Cardinal Unique?

By Ed Jacobs

This year, on September 4th, Cardinal Investment Advisors will celebrate 20 years of serving clients, a humbling milestone that we are excited to celebrate. Much has changed in the consulting industry and at Cardinal over the last two decades. However, the qualities that define Cardinal and make us unique remain the same. Here are 8 aspects of Cardinal that set us apart.

An enduring business model

The foundation of our firm—our ownership structure—was designed to put our clients first. Each owner of Cardinal has an equal stake in the firm, thus avoiding ownership concentration that has led many of our competitors to sell out or consolidate with other consulting firms. Our model allows us to focus on what matters most—our clients.

Our experience and expertise

Cardinal only serves institutional clients, and we specialize in insurance investment advisory. This has served us well as the many complexities around investing for insurance companies informs our approach across other client types. It takes time and effort to develop the tools and processes needed to fully serve a wide range of unique clients. Cardinal has made the necessary investments in our people and our analytical tools to meet this challenge and be a best-in-class consulting firm.

Our company culture and people

Cardinal’s culture is based on collegiality, respect, empowerment—and FUN! We have been very fortunate to attract and retain a highly motivated group of finance professionals with diverse backgrounds. We are proud to have women, minority, and veteran representation as owners and colleagues at Cardinal. Our high retention rate and long-tenured staff affords us deep institutional knowledge critical to serving our clients.  

A multi-disciplinary approach

Unlike most consulting firms, Cardinal is not organized around a separate research department. Instead, Cardinal employs a multi-disciplinary approach where our consultants serve clients and also have research assignments. Similarly, our analysts have reporting responsibilities and are integrated across our research function. We feel strongly that integrating the research function across disciplines improves the quality of analysis we provide to our clients.

Our Independence

Cardinal is the 20th largest consulting firm according to Pension & Investment’s 2020 survey. Of the top 20 firms on that list, Cardinal is one of only seven consulting firms that is both employee-owned and independent. Cardinal takes great pride in operating in a conflict free manner. We have no parent company, we are not an asset manager, and we do not earn fees from money managers. Our only source of revenue is the hard dollar fees paid by our clients. We are 100% independent.

We are an extension of staff

We adhere to a special creed at Cardinal: “Your mission is ours.” Success for Cardinal is measured by our clients’ success. We tailor our recommendations to the unique needs and specific objectives of every client. No request is too big or too small. Our most successful client engagements are those where we plug into the investment department as a strategic partner and extension of staff.

Our tools and resources

Like most consultants, Cardinal partners with industry leading software and data providers. Unlike most consultants, Cardinal developed a proprietary economic capital model that differentiates us. Recognizing that asset allocation drives the majority of economic outcomes, we built a model that aids in developing customized strategies optimized for each client’s objectives and risk tolerance.

Our investment philosophy

A key tenet of our investing philosophy is using a research driven long-term approach to ensure that our clients adopt the best strategy to create and grow economic wealth. Our processes and tools explicitly consider the various frictions that erode economic wealth: taxes, fees, constraints, regulations, unnecessary turnover, etc. By analyzing investment strategies and optimizing within a framework which accounts for these implementation drags we create portfolios that fit each client’s risk tolerance and are expected to provide economic upside in real market environments.

Key takeaways

Cardinal is an independent consulting firm focused on serving institutional clients with unique liability streams. We fulfill our mission by attracting and retaining a team of talented colleagues who serve our clients’ missions as if they were our own. Cardinal remains committed to evolving with our industry and capital markets.

Interested in learning more? Contact Cardinal Investment Advisors here.

Ed Jacobs, Managing Director

Ed Jacobs | Cardinal Investment Advisors

Ed joined the Cardinal team in 2010. Ed’s primary responsibility is client service, currently supporting multiple insurance and pension client engagements. Ed also leads Cardinal’s manager research function, providing strategic direction to our team and research process.

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