Engineering the Future of Finance With Avantis Investors
- Different people, even those with the same background, have different approaches and ways of thinking.
- Eduardo Repetto believes that to succeed, it’s essential to create something excellent, priced appropriately, and built with the right attitude.
- If you can add value to your clients, they will appreciate your work and keep coming back.
- Finding the right balance is a work in progress. You need to pick your battles and fight them with strength and commitment.
1. Tell us about your childhood and how it shaped you into who you are today.
I was born in Argentina and studied civil engineering at the University of Buenos Aires. After completing college, I worked for two local companies dealing with structural analysis, hydraulics, water flows, and coastal erosion. I worked in a research group with mathematician Luis Reyna, who was part of a numerical simulation group solving complex physical problems using computers.
After working with Reyna for about a year, I went to further my studies in the US. I joined Brown University and moved to California after graduation. While working as a postdoc at Caltech, I worked on materials and computer simulations.
With a Ph.D., I was tempted to pursue a career in the academic field, but I chose not to. I was initially offered interviews in New York but found it unsuitable as my wife and I had built our life together in California. In 2000, I started working for a financial company in Los Angeles.
2. Tell us about the inception of Avantis and what motivated the idea.
I worked at Dimensional Fund Advisors for over 17 years. In 2017, I resigned to determine what to do next and later decided to pursue my entrepreneurship dream. My background in finance and my wife’s support contributed to my success as an entrepreneur.
While planning my next career steps, I got involved with Caltech, as a trustee. In 2019 we started Avantis Investors as part of American Century Investments, a company that I have known for a long time. American Century is a very interesting company since its controlling shareholder is the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, a research institution that tries to find cures for cancer and other illnesses.
Starting a company like Avantis requires more than just one person. On the first day, a group of around 14 people joined Avantis, supported by American Century. The infrastructure included many internal employees and experienced individuals who came from other companies. With the continued support of American Century, Avantis now has around 40 employees. Avantis focuses on managing money, marketing, and client support, and relies on American Century for technology, HR, compliance, and legal support. Avantis’s success is not solely attributed to the product but rather to the support functions that allow us to provide great services to clients. Even an excellent product requires selling, distributing, and marketing strategies to ensure people understand its value. Within 4 years, Avantis’s assets have grown to close to $30 billion.
Financial science, which is universally accessible, is a complex field with numerous interpretations. While many people work in, or with, financial science, our common-sense approach and support model make Avantis unique.
3. Has your background in engineering given you a different perspective from your peers on finance?
Everyone has a unique perspective. Different people, even those with the same background, have different approaches and ways of thinking.
Businesses require your core functions plus IT, legal, HR, and facility support, as well as a dynamic approach. Different interpretations of these aspects make a product unique. A dynamic approach, focusing on client needs, is essential for success. Clients often provide their opinions, and it’s crucial to interpret their feedback to provide the best service possible. To succeed, it’s essential to create something excellent, priced appropriately, built with the right attitude, and then make it known to the universe of potential clients.
It’s important to constantly listen to market changes and people’s evolving needs. By understanding and addressing them, businesses can stay competitive and meet the diverse needs of their clients.
4. What impact do you think AI will have on the finance industry?
AI’s potential for enhancing efficiency and data quality is undeniable. Businesses need to think about how to use AI to improve customer experiences and processes. AI may transform how we work in investments and data quality, but it is important to recognize that it is not a panacea that will solve all problems. It can help analyze more data, identify mistakes, and improve relevance without the need for an army of people. This progress is part of science, and it is inevitable. AI systems can define and segment client needs better, and improve service delivery. There are numerous applications of AI — some in progress, many of them already in implementation. The revolution is significant, and it is not a small one. It could revolutionize various aspects of life.
5. What concepts or tactics do you use while making business decisions?
Our decision-making at Avantis is influenced by having a consistent philosophy—an investment philosophy— and a focus on clients. We are a service provider so we need to know what clients want, and why, to inform our decision-making. It is important to focus on delivering the best possible service to your customers at a reasonable cost. Remember that you’ll always have clients, and if you can add value to them, they will appreciate your work and keep coming back.
6. What has been the most formidable professional challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
Work-life balance has been a challenge, especially with three kids and parents living in Argentina. I realized it’s essential to acknowledge that finding the right balance is a work in progress. Saying no to some things is also important. For example, a full-time student may struggle with balancing school work and personal life. To find a middle ground, you need to pick your battles and fight them with strength and commitment. No one can do it all.
7. What are your most important values, personally and professionally?
As a corporation, we believe in providing the best service and pricing possible and in merging profit with purpose. We recognize that our work is impactful. We strive to improve people’s lives through efficient money management and help them accomplish their goals.
On a personal level, I believe in paying it forward. I received fellowships to be able to attend college, and now, at Avantis, we do the same for those in need. Through our gifts to endowments, we provide scholarships to students, with emphasis in sciences, as we believe that they have the potential to improve the world.
Eduardo believes that success is not just a destination but a journey filled with challenges that can be turned into stepping stones. He emphasizes the importance of continuous learning, reminding us that our potential is limitless when we remain open to new knowledge and experiences.