Altrius Capital Management launched an institutional investing division at the start of the year, an official at the 12-year old firm told ASR sister publication Investment Management Weekly.

Gian Russo has been brought on to help the New Bern, N.C.-based firm break ground in the institutional facet of the market as executive vice president of institutional services, Russo said in a phone conversation.

He brings to the table 10 years of experience managing institutional relationships in the MBS and CMO markets for divisions of General Motors, Apollo Advisors and General Electric.

James Russo, president and chief investment strategist at the asset management shop, decided now was a good time to court clients in that realm. The duo, who have no blood relation to each other, have been friends for more than 35 years.

"He looked at compliant third-party audited results over the last nine years," said Russo, who recently moved from New Jersey to launch the unit. "Not only have we outperformed the larger players, but with half the beta."

Additionally, Altrius' quantitative global balanced composite product, which is offered to individual investors, has continuously outperformed the S&P 500 on a cumulative basis, he said. It's return since inception (January 31, 2001) is 26.92%.

Russo said Altrius plans to offer a strategy similar to its quant product to institutional investors clients, as well as a domestic equity large-cap product. Additionally he said, "We're contemplating by the third quarter to launch a smid-cap equity fund."

During 2Q10, Russo said the firm would begin road showing its offerings, followed by the addition of new team members to help manage the strategies during the fourth quarter. He anticipates Altrius having its first institutional client during the third quarter.

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