Institutional Investment Consulting

ORION, A DiMeo Schneider & Associates, L.L.C. Firm provides a comprehensive suite of services to help institutional investors at any point in the investment process.

At ORION, a DiMeo Schneider & Associates, L.L.C. Firm, our goal is to consistently apply disciplined thinking and our best efforts to the financial and investment needs of each client. We are mindful of the special needs facing institutional clients and the process we follow is designed with fiduciary duty and responsibilities in mind.

Our team of consultants and analysts has extensive experience guiding staff and leadership of organizations through the important decisions which ultimately determine whether or not investment goals are achieved.

We endeavor to provide advice free from the conflicts of interest which come from owning –or being affiliated with—proprietary investment products or services, trading desks or investment banking. Moreover, our is not subject to the challenges and issues facing many large, Wall Street firms.

Our commitment to clients and client services is unwavering; in many instances clients tell us they find that their consulting team becomes an extension of their organization. This commitment to excellence extends beyond the services we provide to our clients. Over the past twenty years ORION’s staff has conducted literally hundreds of education and training programs for institutional investors.

Our team of consultants has received national recognition for its expertise and experience and is viewed as a resource within the nonprofit community. To stay abreast of events that shape the financial markets and developments within the industry, our staff is involved in ongoing professional education and in volunteer service to numerous non-profit organizations.

In short, we have committed our time, talents and resources to one purpose: to know and serve the nonprofit and retirement plan communities.

With more than 100 years’ combined experience we stand ready to help you and your organization with a specific project or the full gamut of investment services including:

Investment Audits—examine your existing policies, procedures, performance, services and fees. When was your policy last reviewed by counsel that didn’t have a vested interest in the outcome? Does it reflect changes in requirements upon fiduciaries? Have your investment returns been verified by a third party? Are your investment benchmarks realistic and appropriate? And what about the fees you pay to advisors, managers and consultants? Are they reasonable and competitive?

Needs Assessments/Goal Setting — Have you gone through a thoughtful process to involve volunteer leadership and staff to assess your financial condition, available resources, spending priorities, performance expectations, risk sensitivity and time horizon? ORION consultants have extensive experience in helping groups establish sound and realistic goals and objectives for their investible assets.

Developing an Investment Policy Statement —Investment policy statements should not be “off-the-shelf” documents. In order to meet fiduciary standards they must be tailored to your organization’s unique financial “physique,” needs and objectives. Of course the written IPS serves as the cornerstone of your investment program, a “road map” which must include clear milestones against which your organization can evaluate your portfolio, your investments and your policy. We also can address special situations, such as spending needs, socially responsible investing and liquidity requirements.

Creating an Effective Asset Allocation Strategy — Although past performance is no guarantee of future results, studies of large pension plans have concluded that asset allocation is far and away the most important investment decision any investor makes—individual or institutional..

Underpinning any sound asset allocation decision are the expected rates of return, risk and correlation of all asset classes being considered. If capital market assumptions are flawed any asset allocation modeling will prove worthless. ORION utilizes capital market assumptions which are based not just on the past, but on forward-looking return, risk and correlation assumptions as well. We believe this produces greater predictability and success for our clients.

Portfolio Construction— At ORION, a DiMeo Schneider & Associates, L.L.C. Firm, we understand that managing risk is as important—perhaps even more important—as managing for return. We believe that thoughtful diversification can, over the long term, help even out the effects of market movements. We pride ourselves on our innovative solutions to building well-diversified portfolios for institutional investors. With no proprietary products to cloud our thinking we are able to reach “outside the box” for creative asset management solutions—whether separately managed accounts, institutional mutual funds, exchange traded funds and a wide range of alternative vehicles.

We believe strongly that portfolios should be constructed and managed for distinct economic scenarios, rather than by simply spreading funds among several assets based on historical or even projected returns, risks and correlations.

Identifying and Selecting Investment Managers and Vehicles — We maintain a strict “arm’s length” distance from any of the investment managers or investment vehicles utilized by our clients.  We make no commissions off investment managers we choose.  Our disciplined, proprietary due diligence process includes over 30 skilled and credentialed professionals participating in sourcing and evaluating potential investments.  We apply rigorous screens to evaluating potential investments.  We apply rigorous screens to evaluate both quantitative data as well as qualitative information obtained through on-site interviews.

Our internal committee then engages in thorough and healthy debate to determine appropriate opportunities for our clients.  The result is a customized, pragmatic approach to selecting and monitoring investments.  We negotiate fair and reasonable investment manager costs and often help clients access investment vehicles at below stated minimums.  Our consultants consider only those managers we believe are appropriate for institutional clients. 

Performance monitoring —fiduciaries depend on information in order to evaluate the success of their portfolios, managers and investment strategies. The information must be both timely and appropriate to their level of need. Commonly, the information required by staff is more detailed than the information required by the Budget and Finance Committees. And the information these committees need is different than that which goes to the Board.

ORION prepares and distributes timely investment performance data tailored to the needs of each “segment” within your organizations. We distill extensive and often complex data into information which permits fiduciaries to quickly determine:

  • Portfolio composition including asset allocation, sector and security exposure
  • Performance of the portfolio against plan
  • Performance of the managers/investment vehicles against appropriate benchmarks and peer universes
  • Style consistency of managers/strategies
  • Portfolio allocation among produces customized Investment Performance Reviews, executive-summary reports which combine content and clarity so that staff and volunteers alike can easily evaluate the fund’s progress and manager performance. The Investment Performance Reports can also track the consistency of a manager’s style, the source of a manager’s performance and the adherence of the manager to its stated investment discipline.

Manager Due Diligence--Monitoring performance does not end here.  We combine to evaluate more than 1,000 investment managers each year.  This process is deliberate, straightforward and ongoing, and combines quantitative and qualitative analysis with verification of manager provided information. We evaluate the manager’s organization and investment team, their philosophy, process, style consistency and track record, looking for any developments that we believe might manifest themselves in our clients’ portfolios.

Alternative Strategies—Many of our clients elect an allocation to alternative strategies including hedge funds, managed futures and private equity. Where appropriate, we work with our clients to invest broadly across these asset classes in an attempt to both improve diversification and improve incremental returns. Our consultants have years’ of experience advising organization’s on the potential benefits and risks of different alternative strategies.

Retirement Plan Solutions--Fiduciaries face special and specific responsibilities for the retirement plans they oversee, whether defined benefit, defined contribution or non-qualified. The Employee Retirement and Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and various Department of Labor interpretive bulletins have laid out the framework by which employers and plan sponsors must operate their plans. In fact, “ERISA holds plan fiduciaries to a high level standard…the responsibilities of fiduciaries have been described as the highest known to the law.”*

We are there at your side, not only helping you meet these high fiduciary standards, but also working to help ensure that you are offering a plan which is attractive to your participants. After all, a competitive retirement plan is one of the most important benefits you offer.

Our retirement plan services include assistance with:

  • Fiduciary Audits—examining all elements of your plan against appropriate benchmarks and fiduciary requirements
  • Developing and implementing investment policy statements
  • Objective evaluations of your plan provider—services and fees
  • Building an attractive suite of investment options for plan participants
  • Benchmarking your plan against other comparable organizations
  • Evaluating the costs and performance of investment options in your plan
  • Ongoing monitoring and due diligence of plan investment options
  • Annual due diligence meetings to review fiduciary requirements
  • Planning, preparing and providing educational programs for plan participants

Important to note, you do not need to change service providers to benefit from our Retirement Plan Solutions.

*[Donovan v. Bierwirth, 680 F.2d 263, 272 (2d Cit. 1982].