Hillcrest started as a long only small cap investment manager at the end of 2007. The timing could not have been worse. Without the continued support of Grail through the economic crisis, we would not be the successful firm we are today. Grail has a long term vision and a willingness to invest in and support good firms that pays off for investors.
— Brian Bruce, CEO, Hillcrest Asset Management

At Grail Partners, we work with a selective 'club' of LPs, managing several investment vehicles on behalf of institutions, family offices and high net worth individuals, including many current and former financial services executives. Our multi-stage principal investing fund and multiple co-investment funds invest across the financial services industry.

Anyone can invest money – not everyone has as much value to add as we do. What makes us different is the non-capital investment we make: we believe in using our wisdom and extensive network to help our portfolio companies succeed at the very highest level. Our extensive experience in M&A gives us (and therefore our portfolio companies) a competitive edge in creative structuring, and our exceptional industry connections provide direct and immediate access to dealflow, allowing us to get the jump on opportunities or act with caution where necessary.

Our style isn't for everyone: we keep a tight focus and we favor positive disruption over comfortable stasis. Finance, like so many industries, is all about striking the right balance between creativity and salesmanship, and we feel we’ve found the sweet spot – while we typically take minority positions, we also strive to add value and influence outcomes through the board room and strategic, straightforward advice. 

Building an investment model to predict returns in global equity markets is difficult. It takes a great deal of time, money, and patience, especially when it involves relatively new but proven techniques in other branches of science. While the challenge is great, the payoff for success is potentially significant to those involved and the investors who back them. Grail had the capability to understand the science and back the effort in the early stages. We are now a live fund with institutional investors. We could not have done this without the insight and support of Grail.
— Jim Creighton, Partner, Manifold Partners LLC

We provide expertise and capital across the company lifecycle:

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The Grail investment process starts with the development of strategic themes which Grail believes will transform industries over a five-year horizon and beyond. 

We look to enhance our portfolio companies through:

  • M&A opportunities and equity and debt financing

  • Executive and investment team recruitment

  • Product development and distribution

 

Our Investments

Distribution. UCFP is a rapidly growing nationwide financial planning firm with over $16 billion in assets. The firm employs a transformational acquisition strategy that targets small to mid-sized independent RIAs and broker dealers.

Financial Technology (P2P). SoFi connects alumni borrowers and investors to refinance private and federal student loans.Investors get market returns while borrowers get substantially lower interest rates. 

 

Asset Management. Hillcrest is a U.S. small cap and small cap value institutional money manager that employs quantitative techniques in the construction of its portfolios.

 

Asset Management. Manifold Partners systematically manages portfolios that are designed to produce consistent returns that are uncorrelated to other managers or markets. 

 

Asset Management. Welton is a managed futures/global macro firm specializing in separate accounts for institutional investors that use systematic strategies to seek uncorrelated returns and capital appreciation.

Distribution. EMG is a leading distributor of offshore asset management products. The firm partners with leading core and specialty managers - those that are well known in their "home" markets, but less so in regions around the world that serve non-US citizens, including investors in fast-growing emerging markets. 

Financial Technology. Credit Sesame is a financial technology firm that that strives to empower every individual with the ability to make decisions about loans and debt. 

Financial Technology. AllClear ID offers identity protection products to institutions that experience breaches of consumer information. When a company experiences a data violation, it will purchase AllClear ID products and offer the service to those affected for a period of time (typically six months to a year).

 

 

Distribution. ARIA Retirement Solutions offers fee-based financial advisors an innovative portfolio protection / income guarantee product that replaces traditional variable annuities. The product is insured by Transamerica Insurance and the company has partnerships with leading mutual fund companies.

 

DistributionRiskX Investments is a sub-advised mutual fund platform focused on tactical products.  

 
 

Select Past Realizations

Management buyout

Management buyout

Management Buyout. Munder Capital is an investment management firm composed of a collection of boutique investment teams. Munder currently manages over $18B in assets. The firm sold to Victory Capital Management in November 2014. 

 

Management Buyout. Clarion Partners was sold to management in 2013.

Early stage venture investment
Asset management investment

Prime Brokerage. Merlin Ventures was sold to Wells Fargo in 2012.

 

Asset Management. Offit Capital was sold to management in 2012.

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Financial Research. Sold to management in 2009.