Name: Lawrence Calcano
Title: Chief executive officer
Company: iCapital Network
Web Address: https://www.icapitalnetwork.com/
Lawrence Calcano is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of iCapital Network. He was previously a partner at Goldman, Sachs & Co., where he spent 17 years, most recently serving as the co-head of the Global Technology Banking Group of the Investment Banking Division. iCapital Network is a financial technology company dedicated to driving access and efficiency in alternative investing through tech-based solutions for advisors and their high-net-worth client base. The platform, which services more than $51 billion in invested capital across approximately 100,000 underlying accounts, also offers general partners an opportunity to expand their fundraising efforts to the retail marketplace.
What is your role within your firm and what do you do there on any given day?
iCapital Network opens up access to alternative investments such as private equity and hedge funds—which have historically been considered out of reach for individual investors—to financial advisors and their high-net-worth clients via a flagship platform and a custom white label business. iCapital supports the full alternative investing lifecycle – our in-house diligence team reviews and selects high-quality alternative investment managers to curate a menu of investment options for the flagship platform, and our technology simplifies the subscription, administration, and reporting processes of these investments. Within this context, as CEO I lead the development of our strategy, business development activity and manage overall operations and resources and spend a significant amount of time supporting our client activities and relationships.
On any given day, I interact closely with our current clients and prospects, discussing their business challenges. General Partners are adept at marketing to and servicing institutional investors but often come to us to help them access the retail marketplace. Similarly, wealth management firms and banks that service investors are often seeking ways to automate the alternative investing process and are interested in the efficiencies our technology can provide. I also spend a significant amount of time with our team helping to build and drive a culture of teamwork and relentless focus on client success.
Our days are obviously a bit different now that COVID-19 has necessitated we work remotely. I have made a concentrated effort to emphasize the importance of communication and connectivity to ensure iCapital team members continue to operate as a cohesive team despite our physical distance. In lieu of morning coffee in the office kitchen with colleagues, I now start each day by sending an “Opening Bell” email to the iCapital team with updates from across the company and words of encouragement for the day ahead. We have made the most of the technologies that allow for video conferencing and instant messaging to maintain connectivity and facilitate spontaneous discussions throughout the day. We have implemented many other ways to stay connected and engaged, and I find myself looking forward to hearing from different team members during our virtual Friday lunch catch-ups, Buddy Check Days, and Zoom happy hours.
Our methods may have changed a bit to accommodate the current circumstances, but our mission is unchanged. Frankly, the iCapital team has risen to the challenge beyond my most ambitious expectations and I am proud of how we have continued to provide the high level of service our clients have come to enjoy.
How do you feel advisors are adapting to the facet of fintech that your company operates within?
The demand for private investments among advisors and their high-net-worth clients has been growing in recent years amid a two-decade shift that has irrevocably changed the composition of the public markets. Compared to public markets, alternative investments have the potential to offer unique benefits such as reduced portfolio volatility and enhanced returns. This makes alternatives very appealing in the current market environment, and we continue to see a larger number of high-net-worth advisors seeking access to these strategies. Furthermore, the benefits of smart and scalable technology – especially at this moment in time – for connecting parties, streamlining administration, and supporting operations, cannot be overstated.
As advisors consider alternatives, we know that a comprehensive understanding of these investments is essential, and we are committed to providing educational resources to help advisors learn about strategies and understand how to incorporate them into a portfolio. The SEC recognizes the interest in increased access to alternatives and is considering changes to the definition of an accredited investor, which would broaden the population of investors who can invest in these types of products. This makes education more important than ever to ensure that advisors and their clients are fully aware of, and comfortable with the nuances of these investments. As more advisors are thinking about alternatives and how they might help investors meet their financial goals, I think they are going to be looking to members of the industry for educational tools that can help build their expertise.
What has been the biggest success in your firm to date?
The goal of everything that we do at iCapital is ultimately to make it easier for the wealth and asset management industries to support alternative investing for advisors and their high-net-worth clients, so I consider our biggest success to be the successes of our clients, partners and advisors.
I personally believe that our focus on making our customers successful drives our own success. Our growth in 2019 is a testament to this. We developed new relationships across the industry, resulting in a more than 400% increase in assets serviced by the iCapital platform. We also nearly doubled the size of our team to improve upon the high-quality service and technical innovations we provide to our clients.