FintekNews is pleased to offer our weekly feature column “3 Questions”. Each week, we feature a thought leader within a unique sector of fintech and ask them to answer just 3 questions for our audience in their vernacular. This week, we’d like to introduce you to Rob Topping, Managing Member of Topping Capital, which offers a #freeform business model unbiased and totally opportunistic whereby clients can invest directly in opportunities or a portfolio of such through a public-private hybrid fund structure.
NAME: Rob Topping, CFA
TITLE: Managing Member
COMPANY: Topping Capital
WEB ADDRESS: toppingcapital.com
How did you personally become involved in fintech?
I have been active in financial markets since my days in college while working at a regional brokerage firm in Dallas. In 1998 I launched a hedge fund, that is in existence today as a public-private hybrid fund, and that fund by document could allocate to venture capital. Over the course of the last decade much of the investment formation in early stage growth migrated to the private markets whereas public markets today are more about capital allocation (share buybacks, dividends,spinoffs, debt issuance, job layoffs) so the real opportunity to compound money changed to the venture capital world. Companies like Facebook, Snapchat and other names are “public” well before they are listed on a stock exchange.
I also see a world in which the wealth management business is changing dramatically and given our knowledge of financial markets and understanding the need for better product solutions and technology tools it’s only a natural we are involved. If I include fintech related to real estate we are involved and hold investments at ten companies that are changing the way investors and borrowers “consume product.”
What does your firm do/offer within the fintech sector?
Given our experience, network and team we can help de-risk and accelerate growth at companies in the space. You have over $40 trillion in assets that will migrate to the best solutions, lowest fee structure and where it is treated best. Much of what we do is identifying companies well beyond “idea/concept” and “product/project” phase and at an “inflection point.” It is that point in time, what we call “death valley” because they are trapped between friends & family-angel money and institutional capital, where we add a lot of value and provide a bridge to an institutional round and greater success. It’s everything from marketing decks, business strategy and vision, investment structure and capital to human capital – it’s where we earn our keep. We are a small business ourselves so we understand their pain and challenges. We try to do three things – de risk, accelerate growth and compress time to exit.
How do you feel consumers are adapting to the facet of fintech that your company operates within?
Money goes where it is treated best. Most of the wealth management industry doesn’t think of the client as a consumer but they should. Our focus is the product solution and technology tools that give clients better solutions.
We merged our two funds (a fund and fund of funds) at year end 2012, split it with half the capital going to hedge funds and the other half to emerging stage growth opportunities in the private world. The model is as private holdings monetize we redeploy the capital to hedge funds, distributions and back into new private holdings. Thus, we have an instrument unbiased as to public or private but migrating money to the best opportunity and then we let the investors – family offices, high net worth and private equity/v funds – invest direct or through our fund structure. This is unique and what we call #freeform investing or #maneuverable money. Our growth rate since we “pivoted” reflects the positive reception of the model by consumers and investors looking for better options when it comes to allocating assets. Additionally, the traction in the private holdings in fintech reflects the same.
We are at the beginning of a revolution and major changes in wealth management as to alternative assets, lending platforms, vc platforms and new product solutions and tools.
Rob Topping has been actively involved in public and private markets for over three decades identifying pricing inefficiencies and investment opportunities. He holds the CFA designation and has managed a hedge fund, and provided limited partners liquidity, since 1998 (now a public-private hybrid fund).