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MISSISSIPPI PROFILES — Hardy Reed: A business built on trust

ALAN TURNER

In a recent conversation with Scott Reed, CEO of Hardy Reed, I asked what differentiates Hardy Reed from other investment firms.

“The key focus for our company is Objective Fiduciary Guidance,” Scott said. “Whereas most investment firms earn commissions from the transactions they manage, we work on a fee basis with our clients, and our prime objective is in creating and sustaining relationships with our clients on a foundation of trust.”

Scott grew up in northeast Mississippi, earned degrees from Vanderbilt and Ole Miss, and at one point, considered moving into the family clothing business in Tupelo.

“I suppose you could say that my attention was captured by the finance and investment world,” he said. “I worked with an investment firm for a time, and eventually met John Hardy, and we found that we made a pretty good team.”

That may be an understatement. Their partnership ultimately led to the founding of Hardy Reed in 2006, and the firm has grown rapidly through the years. Today, Hardy Reed manages over $1.2 billion in business from institutional and private investors, and Scott is in demand as a speaker all over the country as a respected expert in his field.

“Ours is a fiduciary firm, and we are pleased to have great relationships with more than 230 private and institutional clients who place their trust with us,” he said.

I asked him for additional insight on the concept of “fiduciary” as it relates to his business model.

Scott Reed

“Well, you might say it’s sort of like the difference between a meat monger and a dietitian,” he explained. “A meat monger is in the business to sell meat, and the more meat he sells, the more he earns. A dietitian on the other hand is focused on helping folks make wise choices about what they eat, so they do what’s best for their bodies. We’re the dietitians in this business……for us, it’s all about fiduciary responsibility and always doing what’s best for our clients, rather than selling all the meat we can.”

Hardy Reed is certified by CEFEX, (the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence), the AIFA (Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analysts), and other professional organizations.

Scott likes to talk about the importance of “staying the course”.

“In the investment business today, there are a lot of people focused on short-term gains,” he said. “What we know is that markets historically are up 70% of the time, and that means that in the long term, good planning and execution will result in great results. It’s really important to make wise decisions and stay on course for the long term. That’s another key part of what we do…..namely, to help our clients look at that long-term view and do what’s best for their needs. Sometimes we meet with potential clients who are only looking for that short-term benefit, and we usually help them to find a firm that specializes in that.”

The concept of “fiduciary responsibility” is woven into much of Scott’s vocabulary, and it is clearly the thing that distinguishes his thinking on investments.

“Our true mission is helping people make the right decisions about their money and keeping them on a solid track in avoiding bad decisions,” he said. “It’s important for us that our clients understand what various firms do, and we try to educate them on the different models that are in play in the investment world.”

I asked him what he sees as the key challenges today.

“I’d say it’s the pace of change, accompanied by constantly shifting regulations and rules,” he said. “The changes we’ve seen in this business in the past decade are simply astounding, and it’s vital that we keep on top of those changes. The industry has changed, and that demands patience and a thirst for learning.”

How does Scott see the Mississippi economy at present?

“I think we’re doing a good job of recruiting business to Mississippi,” he said. “We’ve had some great success stories, and I think Glenn McCullough and his folks are doing a great job. With that said, I do think we have serious infrastructure needs in Mississippi, in vital areas such as education, health care, and transportation. If we hope to be in the Top 10 rather than the Bottom 10, we’re going to have to address those issues.”

Hardy Reed is certainly one of the great entrepreneurial success stories in Mississippi, and with their business philosophy of doing what’s best for their clients, it’s hard not to see continued strong growth on their horizon.

On a side note, Hardy Reed will have a Fiduciary Essentials Seminar on May 7 at River Hills in Jackson. Those who would like details on that can call Hardy Reed at (662) 823-4722.

Contact Mississippi Business Journal publisher Alan Turner at alan.turner@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1021.

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About Alan Turner