Mutual Fund Wire | Ross Revamps and Refocuses Highland’s Distro

Brad Ross is revamping and refocusing Highland Capital Management’s distribution efforts, building out a new channel while trimming another.

Ross, president of Highland Funds, confirms that in October, PJ McDaniel joined the Dallas-based asset manager as managing director and head of independent broker-dealer sales. Over the past six months, Ross has created an IBD channel team that now includes 14 external wholesalers, seven internal wholesalers, and four national account specialists. Watch for McDaniel to further expand the new team this year.

“If sales momentum continues, we would be looking to have 20 outside external wholesalers and 12 internal wholesalers by the end of the year,” Ross tells MFWire. “We have a very long commitment to this channel.”

Meanwhile, Ross confirms that he is also scaling back Highland’s distribution in the wirehouse channel. At one point Highland had 19 external wholesalers in the wirehouse channel. Ross has trimmed the wirehouse team down to eight externals and eight internals. Some of the other wirehouse channel folks moved into the Highland’s expanded IBD channel, Ross says, and some left Highland altogether.

“We are going to be a boutique firm for the wirehouse side of our business,” Ross says.

Ross has been working on the IBD push for the past two years or so, and he spent six months searching for a channel chief before hiring McDaniel.

“We brought on the national account team first. We wanted dealer agreements in place and product launches fully deployed,” Ross says. “We consciously had a slow, methodical process as we built it out and now the foundation is firmly laid.”

“We’ve wanted to have a very solid foothold in the independent space for quite a while,” Ross adds. “You need more boots on the ground to effectively cover and distribute.”

McDaniel is an alumnus of Regis University. He previously worked with SC Distributors, KBS Capital Markets Group, and Credit Suisse First Boston.

Highland is an alternative asset manager with about $18 billion in AUM. It offers hedge-funds, separate accounts, REITs, and non-traded BDCs, as well as mutual funds and ETFs.

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