Balentine launches independent asset strategy firm

Firm solidifies experienced team of trusted professionals

ATLANTA, Feb. 10, 2010 Balentine, an independently owned firm of senior-level investment professionals, is open for business and moving quickly to establish a formidable presence in Atlanta and beyond. The firm is focused on acting with uncommon agility and collaboration to help individuals, families and not-for-profit organizations successfully navigate today’s complex investment environment.

Balentine, which opened its doors in January 2010, currently has more than $250 million under management and expects to oversee $1 billion by the end of the summer. The firm builds upon the successful Balentine legacy, an employee-owned firm established over 25 years ago with a proven record of success and operations founded on partners investing their capital alongside clients.

The firm’s business model combines the transparency and objectivity of an investment counseling firm with the ability to act decisively and be held accountable for the results of a money manager. As an asset strategy firm, Balentine will not offer any proprietary products and is not affiliated with any broker dealers. Client and partner assets will be held at Pershing, a subsidiary of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, a AAA-rated company. Alignment with clients and lack of financial conflict are key cornerstones of Balentine’s overall management philosophy.

Robert M. Balentine, chairman of Balentine, believes the time is right for the firm he and his partners have entrepreneurially established.

“With our firm, we are returning to the traditional days of locals working with locals, being intrinsically involved in the community, and understanding the lifestyle and values of the clients we serve and the long-term goals of families in the region,” Balentine said. “There are not one-size-fits-all investment solutions in our business. Each client’s needs and goals should drive the investment process every time.”

Balentine is backed by Rosemont Investment Partners, LLC, a well-known private equity investor in asset management companies. Rosemont’s founder, Chas Burkhart, remarked, “We are very enthusiastic about our partnership with such a top-notch team of investment advisory professionals. Balentine comes out of the gate as a well-organized, employee-owned firm with a best practices approach to asset allocation, investment management and client service.”

“We are very pleased to have Rosemont as our partner,” said Balentine. “The Rosemont team includes the most knowledgeable and connected investors in our industry, and we look forward to a very productive relationship.”

Balentine has assembled a team of seasoned professionals, many of whom have worked together for more than a decade. With 17 staff members, including two Ph.D.s, four MBAs and six CFAs, each Balentine team member has served in the most senior positions, such as chief investment officer and chief financial strategist. In creating the team, Balentine noted the firm specifically sought senior advisers with direct experience managing large pools of capital and providing thought leadership in the industry.

“We have assembled an extraordinary group of talent and intellectual capital,” said Balentine. “Our team combines seasoned, senior-level investment industry veterans with economists from some of the world’s most prestigious universities and thinkers from business sectors outside of the world of financial services. Our team is immersed in the community, highly respected, extremely dedicated and of the highest integrity.”

The senior Balentine team members include: 

Robert M. Balentine, Chairman and CEO

Robert most recently served as executive vice president of Wilmington Trust Company and chairman and chief executive officer of Wilmington Trust Investment Management. Prior to that role, he was chairman and chief executive officer of Balentine & Company, the Atlanta-based investment counseling firm he co-founded in 1987, which was acquired by Wilmington Trust in 2002. Robert is a former executive of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith where, at the age of 28, he was elected the youngest vice president in the firm’s history.

Robert has held a variety of leadership positions in his community, having served as chairman of the board of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, vice chairman of the executive committee of the Woodruff Arts Center, and chairman of the Salvation Army and Atlanta Boys & Girls Clubs. He is a graduate of Washington & Lee University and serves as a member of its board of trustees.

Jeff Adams, J.D., Chief Operating Officer

Jeff previously served as president and director of Wilmington Trust – Georgia, where he headed the Wealth Advisory / Federal Savings Bank Office. Previously, Jeff was executive vice president and chief operating officer of Balentine & Company from 1995 until the firm’s sale in 2002. He also served as chair of the NASD District Committee 7 in 2004. Jeff began his career as an attorney with Alston & Bird, representing public companies and managing issuer and underwriter financing and regulatory practices. In 1982, he was named a partner in that firm.

Jeff serves in many leadership positions throughout the community. He is a trustee of Young Harris College and chair of the marketing committee. He also is a trustee of The Culver Academies, acting as chair of the finance and investment committee. Jeff serves as chair of the Care and Counseling Center of Georgia. Jeff was a Morehead Scholar and Phi Beta Kappa at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1973. He later earned a law degree from Yale Law School.

Adrian Cronje, Ph.D., CFA, Chief Investment Officer

Adrian directs all of Balentine’s strategic asset class diversification, tactical rebalancing and manager selection and termination policies. He also oversees risk management techniques at a strategy level and identifies and prioritizes investment research. Previously, Adrian was chief investment strategist and chair of the Investment Strategy Team at Wilmington Trust Company. Prior to that role, he served as director and deputy head of Quantitative Equity Products at Schroders in London, where his team managed more than $3 billion across global equity markets.

Adrian holds a doctorate in macroeconomics and econometrics and a master’s degree in economics and finance from the University of Cambridge, U.K. He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics, with honors, from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He is a frequent presenter at high-profile events such as annual CFA conferences, Barron’s “The Art of Successful Investing” conference, the Georgia Tech MBA program, and the Southeastern Council of Foundations, among others.

Brittain E. Prigge, CFA, Managing Director of Client Relationships

Brittain joined Balentine & Company in 1994 and was a shareholder in the firm at the time of the firm’s acquisition by Wilmington Trust in 2002. She is considered Balentine’s expert in fixed- income trading and portfolio management.

Brittain is an active fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, where she acts as a national associate and has worked with the board of trustees since 1998. She also is a board member and chair of the Resource Development committee for Families First, Georgia’s largest not-for-profit family agency providing holistic services to children and families in jeopardy. In addition, she is a member of the Peachtree Alliance board, serving as secretary and E Rivers Elementary school liaison. Brittain holds a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University.

Philip Cave, Managing Director of Business Development

Philip most recently served as president of Wilmington Trust FSB Georgia, where he led business development and client account management for the company’s wealth advisory business in Atlanta and the Southeast region. Prior to that role, Philip headed the Bessemer Trust office in Atlanta. Earlier in his career, he held senior private banking positions with JP Morgan and Wachovia.

Philip also holds leadership positions in Atlanta’s civic community. He served as chair of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Annual Fund for three years and is currently chair of the board governance committee. He previously served on the Woodruff Arts Center Long Range Committee and on the advisory board of the Cox Family Enterprise Center. Philip holds a bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University.

Alan McKnight, Jr., CFA, Chief Investment Strategist

Alan is Balentine’s Chief Investment Strategist, managing Balentine’s asset allocation strategies and supervising the firm’s manager due diligence and selection efforts. He also works individually with endowment and foundation clients.  Alan is the former chief investment officer of SunTrust Institutional Investment Advisors, LLC, where he was responsible for managing over $20 billion for foundations and endowments. Prior to joining SunTrust, Alan was portfolio manager for large-cap growth portfolios at Morgan Stanley. Previously, he worked for Equitable Asset Management as the portfolio manager of a small-cap value fund. He began his career with Wachovia Securities as a sell-side analyst covering the specialty retailing sector.

Alan earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Washington and Lee University in 1994, and a master’s in business administration from the University of Texas at Austin in 2002. He holds the Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA®) designation and is a member of the CFA Institute and the New York Society of Security Analysts. Alan serves on the board of the Alliance Theatre.

Joe M. Stallings, Managing Director of Communications

As Balentine’s communications director, Joe Stallings manages the firm’s external communications, public relations efforts, brand equity and intellectual properties.  A 1992 graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Joe began his career with Balentine & Company in 1994,rising to Vice President of Marketing in 1999.

Joe joins Balentine from Electronic Arts, the world’s second-largest software entertainment company, where he worked as a producer. Working in both Orlando, Florida and Vancouver, British Columbia, Joe helped create the ecommerce, social media, digital distribution and
direct-to-consumer technologies used in some of Electronic Arts’ best-selling products, including The Sims and Tiger Woods PGA(r) TOUR.