Last updated: 01:05 / Friday, 24 June 2016
Interviewing Bernardo Amaral

XP Investimentos is Looking to Replicate their Business Model with XP Securities in the United States

XP Investimentos is Looking to Replicate their Business Model with XP Securities in the United States
  • XP Securities: “For 2017, we are looking at opening offices in different countries throughout Latin America"
  • For the last two years, Bernardo Amaral has been the Chief Executive Officer of the US subsidiary of XP Investimentos
  • XP Securities has offices in New York and Miami. The New York office focuses on offering services for institutional clients, while the Miami office is focused on high net worth clients
  • Amaral: “We can confidently say that we know what advisors need in order to be successful. XP Investimentos has 70% of all independent financial advisors in Brazil”

As in the previous six years, XP Investimentos will hold its annual event for Latin American professionals working in the investment, asset management, and insurance industry. This year, the Expert event will be attended once again by Bernardo Amaral, Chief Executive Officer at XP Securities, the US subsidiary of the firm, which is the largest independent broker-dealer in Brazil, with more than 600 hundred employees and more than BRL 40 billion in assets under management.

Amaral joined XP Investimentos in Brazil, in 2007, as Legal and Compliance Manager. After seven years in the firm, he changed his residence to the United States, where he took charge of the business, becoming the Chief Executive Officer of XP Securities. In an interview with Funds Society, Bernardo Amaral talks about the contributions of the Brazilian firm to the US market, their growth strategies in the institutional business, asset management, and wealth management for HNWI and the company’s expansion plans in Latin America. Hereunder, his answers:

XP Investimentos developed a new concept of investment firm in Brazil, what can XP Securities bring to the US investment market?

XP Investimentos has a very strong company-wide business model that has proven to be extremely successful in Brazil. We are looking to replicate this business model with XP Securities in the United States. XP Investimentos brought to Brazil the concept of the one-stop-shop financial institution, where products are offered through a network of independent investment advisors. Until 5 years ago this concept was practically unheard of in Brazil. Through combining quality products and unbiased distribution, we have been able to attain impressive numbers. We can confidently say that we know what advisors need in order to be successful. The fact that XP Investimentos has 70% of all independent financial advisors in Brazil is proof that XP offers the tools and structure necessary to allow independent advisors to be successful. We are looking to bring these same concepts to the US. Despite the fact that US financial markets are mature in this aspect, we feel that there is room for new approaches and development. In the US there are still extensive opportunities in terms of our usage of available technology so that advisors can scale service. In Brazil, for example, XP created an intelligent CRM system that combines efficiency and intelligence, which allows advisors to service a large number of clients. On the operational side, another significant innovation was the creation of a tool in Brazil that allows XP to send messages directly to clients’ cellular phones, which is used to provide clients with investment opportunities and, with a simple response via text message, clients can take advantage of the opportunity being offered. We are evaluating the possibility of replicating these practices here. This is the challenge.

The first XP Securities office was opened in New York back in 2012, two years later the Miami office was opened, is there any difference in terms of business focus between the two offices? How big are the teams in each office?

We have approximately 25 people in each office for a total of 50. We just moved our NY office to a large space and we are doing the same in Miami. The main focus of the Miami office is the servicing of retail clients (mainly high net worth). On the other hand, the New York office services institutional clients, which includes both US clients trading in Brazil or throughout other parts of Latin America, or Latin American clients trading in the US or any other part of the world.

XP Securities has a focus on institutional investors in the US willing to enter Latin American markets, what capabilities are offered to this type of investor?

In relation to Brazil, we are able to bring American investors a flavor of what is going on in local markets through XP Investimentos and its team of economists and political analysts, as well as through corporate access (which allows us to connect non-listed companies and experts to international investors). Furthermore, we have excellent capacity for trade execution, as XP Investimentos is the largest broker dealer in Brazil in terms of shares and options traded on the BOVESPA. 

In terms of Latin America, we have a team led by Alberto Bernal, one of the most respected strategists in the region, covering the various LatAm markets, which gives us an inside look at what is really happening in these countries.  For 2017, we are looking at opening offices in different countries throughout Latin America which will effectively increase our capacity to absorb local information which is of high interest for our US investors.

What services are in highest demand by the US institutional clients?

In our view, clients are in search of fresh, up to date and objective information, the type of information that cannot be found in traditional research reports.  We have been able to deliver this through corporate access meetings (XP Investimentos organized over 1,000 meetings in Brazil and 400 meetings in the US in 2016) and recently, through information specifically focused on the political world.  XP Investimentos has recently opened an office in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, and has hired a team of political analysts that offer minute by minute coverage, giving clients live updates and insights on what’s going on in the executive and legislative branches of government.  At a time like this, when politics is the main driver of financial markets in Brazil, providing up to date political analysis adds significant value to our clients when making investment decisions.

Our clients covering Brazil and Latin America are also requesting a lot of two/three days bespoke trips where we assist them meeting with experts on different sectors of the economy, providing them with an opportunity to get a real local flavor on what is going on in the country. We have had trips to Brazil, Argentina etc.

You are also developing the wealth management division for Latin American clients in the US, which Latin American countries are you servicing?

XP Securities is servicing practically all of Latin America. In addition to receiving client referrals from XP Investimentos (which has approximately 150,000 active clients), we are taking advantage of a gap that we have identified in private wealth management segment in the US. In fact, over the past several years, American banks and broker dealers have been increasing their investment minimums in order to hedge their risk in Latin American clients as a result of problems experienced in Latin American countries. As a result, there is a significant number of clients that do not have an option of where to house their investments in the US. Additionally, there are many investment advisors/bankers that were let go as a result of the fact that a portion of their clientele had assets of US$ 250.000 to US$ 1 million, despite the fact that they also had a meaningful client base with assets from US$ 1 million to US$ 5 million. We are positioning ourselves to bring these bankers and investment advisors to XP and service their clients. We have exactly what it takes to service them: price, product and service.

What services are you offering to your wealth management clients?

In terms of products, we offer the industry standard such as equities, options, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, structured notes and futures. Furthermore, we offer many non-traditional products such as hedge funds and private equity funds. For example, we were authorized to refer clients to 3G Capital, which offers highly sought-after and exclusive investment funds.

Another differentiating factor is what we call “Product Teams”. We currently have two main teams: one focused on equities and the other on fixed income. Each team is responsible for generating efficiency in their respective product in order to maximize profitability for clients. This structure is different than the industry standard where the trade execution desk assists advisors when a complicated client question arises. These teams work closely with our advisors, providing them information on flow, issuances issuers, etc., which facilitates advisors with clients.