Behind Super Bowl Winner’s Vident Advisory Acquisition

Vident CEO Vince Birley tells etf.com the rationale behind the sale as well as his plans for company growth.

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Reviewed by: Gabe Alpert
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Edited by: Gabe Alpert

Casey Crawford, a Super Bowl champion NFL player who turned mortgage banker, is acquiring investment firm Vident Advisors, which has issued four exchange-traded funds holding $1.37 billion in assets.

Crawford played for the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2000-2003, before founding a mortgage bank, Movement Mortgage, in 2008. The firm, which funded more than $20 billion in residential mortgages in 2022, is now the sixth-largest retail mortgage lender in the U.S. Crawford is purchasing Vident, to be renamed Vident Asset Management, to operate separately from Movement Mortgage. No merger or similar connection is expected, according to the company.    

When asked why it decided to pursue acquisition, Vident CEO Vince Birley told etf.com that the firm’s rapid expansion had caused capacity problems that the capital from the acquisition would help alleviate.  

He talked about using it to hire more staff to build a multi-asset class portfolio management team with a “deep bench” of talent for its advisory and management services.  

“If we’re building [an ETF], it’s because someone wants it built; we’re not just making them and waiting for people to come,” Birley said. “For larger firms [that] are in wealth management but want to expand into the ETF industry, we want to offer a high level of expertise to help with that. 

Besides Vident's four sponsored ETFs, it's also subadvisor to 39 ETFs with over $5 billion in assets. Among other things, it also does direct indexing for wealth management clients. Birley says that he’s seeing a broader trend towards direct indexing in the wealth and asset management space, because it helps clients better adjust their risk and allows more opportunity for tax-loss harvesting.  

He also sees the trend of mutual funds’ conversions to ETFs continuing and investors’ enduring interest in the ETF structure. 

"The ETF is a good invention compared to the [traditional] mutual fund: Between the tax advantages, transparency and liquidity, there are a lot of advantages,” Birley noted.  

“What ETFs have done, especially in asset management, is put the focus on helping investors get exposure to the investments they want, rather than focusing on what kind of alpha they’re going to get, he added. “Alpha has proven to be very rare, so what you want to do is help an investor own what they own. That was harder in the mutual fund and SMA world.” 

Gabe Alpert is a former data reporter at etf.com with over seven years’ experience in financial journalism. He also previously contributed reporting and analysis to Barron’s Magazine, Investopedia and other publications.