Opus News & Insights

Opus Capital: A 20-Year Retrospective
Tuesday, November 22, 2016

As Sir Paul McCartney penned for the Beatles eighth studio album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “it was 20 years ago today” that Opus Capital opened the doors of our investment firm and entered into partnership with our clients.

Anniversaries provide an opportunity to be thankful. First and foremost, we are thankful for our clients and the relationships we have forged over the past two decades. Navigating the journey with you and being part of your successes is a most rewarding part of the past two decades. We thank you for the many kind notes and thoughts during our 20th anniversary year.

Anniversaries also provide a useful occasion for reflection. Twenty years is a long time. In 1996, Tiger Woods was an amateur golfer, the Spice Girls were hip, and Motorola introduced the first flip phone; iPhones would not be released for another decade.

At Opus, although we have cast aside our AOL dial up and Netscape Navigator, many of the underlying tenets of our firm are just as valuable in 2016 as they were at inception in 1996; we take this opportunity to reflect on a few.

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Fiduciary Duty to Our Clients

Some things don’t change in 20 years’ time.  A Clinton was running for president in 1996 and 2016.  At Opus, since inception, we have readily accepted fiduciary duty for our clients and are committed to placing our clients’ interest first.    To us, this seems like a given.  However, in April of this year, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) had to issue a ruling holding investment professionals to a fiduciary standard.  This has led to much conjecture within our industry over the past couple of months; commissions vs fee-based, 401(k) vs IRAs, etc.   In short, this rule has no effect on us or you, since we have always assumed the highest level of fiduciary duty for our clients.  In fact, it astonishes us that not only do some advisors and broker dealers refuse to assume fiduciary duty, they even fight against the concept.

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Commitment to Lower Fees

Over the past 20 years, we have been committed to offering below-market fees, leading to more money in the pockets of our clients. The Year 2016 Charles Schwab RIA Benchmarking study placed us in the least expensive 20% versus our peers; we are proud of those numbers.

Our fee-only model also aligns our interest with our clients. Although rare in the mid-nineties, we are happy to see the industry shifting towards this model in recent years. In fact, we believe that low fees will be even more important for the next 20 years for many reasons, including reduced income from the low interest rate environment. For comparison, the 10-year Treasury yield touched 7% in year 1996 and is currently below 2%. Our commitment to low fees has been, and will continue to be, a core principle of Opus.

Adoption of Index Investing

In 1996, index investing was widely discussed in academia but not broadly utilized by investment advisors. As early adopters, we spent much of our time educating investors on the benefits of indexing in more efficient asset classes, namely lower fees and higher expected returns.

Because of our independence, we have the luxury of selecting the investment vehicle most appropriate for our clients without any conflicts of interest. Rod Tidwell said it best in the 1996 blockbuster Jerry Maguire, “Show me the money”. We invest in solutions we believe best for our clients; in some asset classes, the answer is an index fund.

Our clients have benefitted greatly over the past 20 years from the ownership of indexes, as they continue to outperform active management in many asset classes and provide low fees, tax efficiency, and diversification. Recently, indexes have gained widespread popularity, culminating with a series of Wall Street Journal articles over the past month supporting the concept.

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Adherence to Disciplined Game Plan

Our anniversary celebration at the Cincinnati Art Museum provided a wonderful venue to reminisce with clients about the past 20 years. Interestingly, a recurring theme during conversations was stories (and thanks) for guidance during the market downturns of the early 2000s and 2008/2009.

Our two decades of experience only strengthens our conviction in the necessity of having a disciplined, well-structured investment game plan in place. It is easy to forget these game plans during periods of good returns, but they become life-changing during times of market stress.

Find below a chart of investor returns across asset classes compared to remaining fully invested. The average investor sacrificed almost 2% per year in returns by chasing performance and trying to time the market – a steep price to pay. We are proud that each of our clients maintains a structured process upon which to rely in difficult times and helps ensure financial security and prosperity. These investment game plans will undoubtedly come in handy in the coming years.

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“It’s wonderful to be here, it’s certainly a thrill, you’re such a lovely audience”… and we look forward to the next 20 years of partnership with you. Your feedback and suggestions are valued and an integral part of our success. Please let us know how we can better serve you in the coming years.


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Adam T. Eagleston, CFA
  Adam T. Eagleston, CFA
and Portfolio Manager

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Joseph P. Condren, CFA
  Joseph P. Condren, CFA
Principal, COO and CCO

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David W. Wagner III, CFA
  David W. Wagner III, CFA
Research Analyst

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  Nathanael A. Stewart, CFA
Associate Portfolio Manager
and Research Analyst

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Debra Gordon
  Debra Gordon
Director - Marketing
and Client Relations

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Nathan A. Bishop, CFA
  Nathan A. Bishop, CFA
and Portfolio Manager

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Nathan M. Bailey, CFA - Associate Portfolio Manager
  Nathan M. Bailey, CFA
Associate Portfolio Manager

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  Jakki L. Haussler, Esq., CPA
Founder and CEO

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B. Rapking - Operations Associate
  Brad J. Rapking
Equity Trader

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Len A. Haussler, CFA, CPA
  Len A. Haussler, CFA, CPA
and Portfolio Manager

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Kevin P. Whelan, CFA
  Kevin P. Whelan, CFA
and Portfolio Manager

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John A. Ferguson, CFA
  John A. Ferguson, CFA
and Portfolio Manager

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Michael R. Knapke
  Michael R. Knapke
Manager - Marketing and 
Client Relations

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Office: (513) 621-6787

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