RIA Databases: 8 Things to Look for When Purchasing

RIA databases can be a helpful tool that reduces prospecting time and gets you closer to identifying the right RIAs who allocate capital to outside managers. By providing you with a list of contacts, often sourced from industry registries like Form ADVs, RIA databases can provide a good starting point for generating leads and setting up meetings.

However, not all RIA databases are created equal. While some are little more than raw data in a spreadsheet, more advanced solutions are true lead generation platforms. Once we realized that we had a lot of that information right at our fingertips, Dakota Marketplace was born.

Dakota Marketplace is an institutional investor and RIA database created and maintained by the fundraising team at Dakota investments, who have used Marketplace to raise over $30B.

With our years of experience, we put together a list of eight things to consider when you're deciding on an RIA database for your team.

1. More Than Just RIAs

First and foremost, you’ll want a database that includes more than just one channel or offers channel-specific versions. 

While RIAs represent a major target for sales investment professionals, you want an RIA database that gives you access to a range of institutional investor channels, including:

  • RIAs/MFOs/FOs
  • Banks
  • Broker-dealers 
  • Consultants 
  • Direct pensions 
  • Foundations/endowments

2. Intuitive Design

It seems obvious, but a database that’s intended for investment sales professionals should be specifically designed for how you use it. It should be intuitive and flexible, allowing you to filter and focus on the data that matters to you most.

3. Curated Contacts

Many RIA databases simply scrape firm websites or pull raw data directly from ADV filings. As a result, your database is larded with contacts – any and all account contacts, whether they play a role in the buying process or not. Are you really going to call on human resources about long-only equities?

You want an RIA database that is curated that they use outside managers, which is the only thing that matters to an investment sales professional. The number of contacts isn’t nearly as important as the number of quality contacts. The whole point is to make your life easier by connecting you with allocators who are looking for what you sell. Find an RIA database that vets the information it includes and curates its list to only include contacts that buy what you sell. 

4. Accurate

The investment industry is rife with turnover. Contacts are constantly changing firms and switching positions. If your database isn’t keeping up with all of those changes, you’re stuck having to track the person down.

Look for an RIA database that is automatically updated in real time. When there’s a new contact at a firm, it should appear in your database and notify your salesperson. When an old contact changes jobs, they should automatically appear under their new firm, along with their updated title, email and phone number. 

5. Intelligent City Search

It’s not uncommon for RIA databases to allow you to filter by city. But the feature is only as good as the data. Many databases use the firm’s location as the default city for all of its analysts. But it’s not uncommon for analysts to live in metro areas outside their company’s home base.

Try to find an RIA database that, when you’re searching New York, shows all of the RIAs residing there, not just those whose firm is based there. It will ensure you don’t miss any opportunities when visiting a city. Also, look for a platform with a mapping feature that will recommend other nearby institutional investors who you might have otherwise overlooked. 

6. Active Searches

Wouldn’t it be great to know which allocators are actively seeking to invest in the strategies you sell? 

There are RIA database platforms that allow you to see active and recent searches, making it incredibly easy to connect with institutional investors who are not only open to conversations but have a strong desire to speak with you.

7. Investor Preferences

It’s one thing to have account or contact information. It’s another to know if they’re a good match. A good RIA database should cut down on the amount of legwork you have to do.

If you market a hedge fund or a private equity fund, your RIA database should tell you what RIAs allocate to hedge funds or private equity funds.

One way it can do that is by listing the allocator’s investment preferences, allowing you to quickly see if it’s worth your time to reach out and start a conversation. 

8. Content

Data is great. It provides a nice starting point for calling on institutional investors. But it truly is just a starting point. 

Find an RIA database that includes access to valuable content – such as city overviews, allocator interviews and recent sales notes – that provides depth and color to the contacts as well as insight into current trends, thinking and approaches.

Which is right for you?

RIA databases run the gamut of quality and effectiveness, and can come with a wide range of features. Although some are little more than spreadsheets meant to provide names and contact information, others are advanced SAAS platforms designed to reduce prospecting and data administration while freeing you to focus on pitching to the right buyers.

What you hope to get out of an RIA database may ultimately determine which is right for you. But the above tips can be used to help guide your decision. 

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Written By: Gui Costin, Founder, CEO

Gui Costin is the Founder and CEO of Dakota.