Steadyhand was started because a grizzled industry veteran was frustrated. After dipping his toes into early retirement, Tom Bradley wanted to find a firm that would manage his money the way he wanted. But it wasn’t that easy. This is our story.
It was 2006 and the investment industry was increasingly dominated by the banks. Over two decades of experience taught Tom that their bottom line is much more important than his. They were off the list. To complicate matters, he was really picky. Tom didn’t want firms that were too big, too greedy (through high fees) or too hung up on tracking an index. This meant most traditional mutual fund managers didn’t make the cut. He was looking for stock pickers who had a proven approach, excellent track record, and deep passion for investing. For lack of a better term, Tom was looking for ‘investment geeks’.
So, he turned to his rolodex and hit the road. Along the way he came across some great firms, but they each excelled at one specific discipline. There were leaders in North American stocks, small-cap experts, savvy global stock pickers, and shrewd bond managers. Finding a shop that covered the waterfront was a challenge, and Tom came to the realization that he would need to go with a stable of managers rather than just one.
This meant multiple relationships with numerous levels of reporting, varying fee arrangements and no clear snapshot of his overall holdings and performance. Then it hit him. Wouldn’t it be great to offer this caliber of money management — which was geared towards high-net-worth individuals — to all investors? Putting it under one umbrella would mean clear reporting and enough scale to keep fees low.
Enter the tech guy, Neil Jensen. In his previous life at PH&N, Tom had worked with Neil (who was a consultant at the time) and the two had kept in touch. Tom had always wanted to work again with Neil, so he filled him in on his idea for a new kind of investment firm. Jensen was intrigued. He felt a rapidly maturing internet could be a great field leveler between the Goliaths and the Davids, and being a tech geek, he saw an opportunity to do some cool things that others couldn’t … or wouldn’t.
The juices started flowing and the passion project gained steam. Its code name: steadyhand. Starting an investment firm with a fresh sheet of paper had a lot of allure. If it was to work, though, it would have to offer other features that were noticeably lacking in the industry: transparency, simplicity, friendly fees, crisp service, a human touch, and of course, a unique investment philosophy (which would later become known as undexing).
As the project gained momentum, Tom and Neil grew more comfortable with the quirky name. It reflected their strong belief that the biggest single determinant of a client’s returns is his or her behaviour. Indeed, if an investor doesn’t stick to their plan, all else is lost. The duo figured an important part of the firm’s DNA would be an emphasis on promoting good investing practices, offering honest, clear-cut advice, and when needed, a steady hand.
The blueprint was drawn and Neil committed to being the co-founder. Starting a business would bring with it plenty of headaches and frustration, but with the support of their spouses, the two took the entrepreneurial leap. Steadyhand was born in the summer of 2006 and the rest, as they say, is history.