Nottingham turns 30: A look back on where we’ve been and where we’re going

Nottingham is proud to celebrate our 30-year anniversary! In August 1988, we filed the articles of incorporation in North Carolina with only two employees and not much more than an idea. Now thirty years later we have a building full of the best staff anybody could hope to work with, and a complicated yet quite enjoyable ongoing business with many facets.

Why Nottingham was founded

Nottingham’s entry into working with pooled investment vehicles was to meet an unfulfilled demand, and we continue to try and operate as a demand-driven business. I first started out in transaction side of the asset management industry with Robinson Humphrey, and got to know many of the independent investment advisors in the mid-Atlantic and East Coast area. A common issue that came up in discussion was how can we pool our smaller accounts together to create efficiency and economies of scale in our operations? Given my father’s practice in trusts and estates law, we researched various trust vehicles, assuming mutual funds were too expensive. After months of research, we determined trust vehicles were not an ideal solution and began digging deeper into how to create open-end mutual funds more efficiently. We filed the original series trust for open-end mutual funds in late 1988 and became effective with three publicly registered mutual funds in July 1989.

Nottingham’s purpose

Nottingham has focused on solving problems for investment advisors, leveraging our expertise to shorten the time frame and reduce the cost of pooling investment assets. Nottingham takes a consulting approach to help an investment advisor determine what solution is best for their firm, investment style, and target market. We have the contacts, knowledge, and operational experience to handle whatever type of fund that ends up being, whether it be an open-end mutual fund, closed-end interval fund, ETF, hedge fund, or perhaps a non-registered pooled investment solution available to some exempt organizations.

What drives Nottingham’s success?

Our clients tell us they like our problem solving, partnership approach, and accessibility of senior management to help them work through a “what if” question. That combined with a non-financial Southern approach to personal interaction is what differentiates us from other financial institutions. Honey is more attractive than vinegar.

How has the firm changed over the past 30 years?

The markets have continued to evolve with new products and solutions, and we have tried to stay on the front curl of the wave. In 1988, the best solution was an open-end mutual fund. Private funds did not become an accepted solution until the mid-1990s, and we added private funds to our suite soon thereafter. We were asked by a major consulting firm to consider using mutual fund accounting for their religious-affiliated hospital clients in the late 1990s, about the same time a top five bank asked us to partner with them on several government investment pools. Closed-end interval funds are a relatively recent hybrid product that has been a good solution for several of our clients. Over the next decade, we believe ETFs will be a large segment of the fund industry. This belief was behind our multi-year registration process to obtain an exemptive order and register an ETF series trust in 2017.

What impact has Nottingham had in the local community over the last 30 years?

One of the reasons we have decided to remain independent is because our staff lives in eastern North Carolina, and we love the quality of life here. We also believe small business is the most effective way to improve and continue to enhance the quality of life in smaller communities, and our people and management team are active in civic and community growth efforts locally. An institutional or private equity owner has different motivations. We believe in working to live rather than living to work. We have a good time and try to laugh and smile, which we believe strongly enhances our work productivity rather than detracting from it. Contributing to our community with involvement in our churches and community non-profit organizations is an important part of life.

What’s next for Nottingham?

We have made a personal decision to remain independent for the foreseeable future. Large organizations have their place and purpose, but we want to remain a boutique firm with an entrepreneurial mindset and a management team that says “we want to find a way to help you” rather than “that does not fit our business model.” With almost none of our competitors still independently owned and operated, we believe our value has only and will only increase in the marketplace.