Fair assets

In the financial services industry, change isn’t necessarily embraced with open arms. But that hasn’t stopped Scott Roulston from staring change in the face and forcing it to blink.

Over the past decade, Roulston has led the dramatic transformation of Fairport Asset Management, his well-established, family-owned brokerage firm, into a comprehensive investment and wealth management company. Along the way, he’s shifted investment strategies, reworked the way the company was staffed with experts, consummated a merger of equals and, in a year when the market as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500 declined by more than 22 percent, increased assets under management and advisement to in excess of $1.5 billion.

“We brought in $120 million in new assets last year from existing and new clients,” Roulston says. “Part of that success was strategic — from mergers and additional people — and part of it was organic growth through new business,” says Roulston.

A large piece of Fairport’s growth was due to an explosion in the firm’s wealth management business; Roulston says the number of clients in this area grew by 60 percent last year.

“In these roller coaster markets, a lot of people were taking a step back and looking for a personal CFO as a sounding board,” he says.

One example is Fairport’s strategic alliance with Charles Schwab Co., which tapped Roulston’s firm as one of its AdvisorNetwork partners. The program, launched in April 2002, refers Schwab clients who are looking for investment advice to local money managers.

During the eight months of 2002 that the program was in effect, Fairport snared 35 percent of the market share for the number of Schwab clients referrals in Northeast Ohio and 60 percent market share for the number of asset dollars referred to Fairport’s money managers.

Roulston views this as third-party validation that his firm does things the right way.

“Basically, it was a crummy year for investors and the investment industry,” says Roulston. “It was painful. But on a relative business measurement, we knocked the cover off the ball.” How to reach: Fairport Asset Mangement, (216) 431-3000