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RS' Wolf on the Oak Value Acquisition

Ryan Leggio

Ryan Leggio: The last thing I wanted to ask you is about your firm's recent announcement of the purchase of Oak Value. It's a mutual fund based in North Carolina. They look for very, very high-quality businesses at reasonable prices, and the question I really have is how much interaction is your team and the team based in North Carolina really going to have going forward, and are there things each of you can learn from each other?

Joe Wolf: Absolutely. It is an absolute top-shelf group of people, really wonderful investors with long track records of success, very due-diligence heavy. They know their companies extremely well. It's a concentrated, low-turnover approach, which we certainly we favor.

We've already started to interact with them even during the due diligence period on a stock-by-stock basis. We find that we both look through the world with the same return on invested capital lens, but they do tend to buy businesses that perhaps start at a higher level of return. Have perhaps more visible growth prospects, are willing to pay a somewhat higher valuation for that durability, whereas we're more about the value side of the camp, where we're looking for these structural changes, where perhaps we're focused more on the inflection in returns rather than the absolute level.

But we're really excited to have them as a part of our family. It is the first external acquisition that we've done. The integration will be seamless. It's going extremely well. We're excited about having them. There has been no impact whatsoever on the rest of us except for the positive impact of having a resource to be able to kick ideas around with. So, we're really excited to have them.

Leggio: And the other positive thing with that transaction and recently with RS is the fees for Oak Value are going to come down, and the fees for I know a lot of your growth funds have come down recently as well, is that something your firm is really looking at?

Wolf: Yes, I think, what we're trying to do is to provide a top-shelf product at below industry pricing. If we can offer investors over long periods of time the best after-tax risk adjusted returns, then we've done a good job. Attracting and retaining top talent and providing high-quality product at very competitive fees is the mantra of the organization. We have a best-of-both worlds structure and that we have a very durable 150-year-old parent company, yet we also have a young entrepreneurial merit-based San Francisco firm. We've been able to attract and retain the best people we've had. Virtually no investment turnover, virtually no account turnover, and so we're looking for stability, we are looking for the type of organization that somebody can come and spend the rest of their career, and I think that's what attracted Oak to joining our platform.

Leggio: Well, Joe, thanks so much for joining us today.

Wolf: Thank you.

Leggio: And thank you for joining us. This Ryan Leggio for Morningstar.