By Rochelle Maruch Miller
YieldStreet is changing the landscape of financial planning and wealth management. Launched in 2015 on the belief that financially responsible consumers deserve better options and income-generating products, the online marketplace connects investors to asset-based investments with low correlation to the stock market. YieldStreet’s technology platform creates an awesome investor experience to enable accredited investors to participate in opportunities previously reserved for the top 0.2% hedge funds and large institutions. For a minimum investment of $5,000, one- to three-year terms, and target annual yields of 8—20%, their investments provide valuable diversification and strength to any portfolio.
Michael Weisz is founder and president of YieldStreet and is responsible for the company’s strategy, investment, risk management, and investor acquisitions. Raised in Lawrence, Michael, a Cedarhurst resident, has held a variety of positions across the specialty finance spectrum, including leadership positions with Soli Capital and Esquire Bank.
Previously, Michael was vice president at a New York-based credit opportunities hedge fund with $1.2 billion under management. He and his team specialized in asset-based loan transactions between $5 million and $25 million with a niche in the legal finance markets. During his career, he has managed over $200 million in transactions.
In this interview with the 5TJT, Michael gives us a tour of YieldStreet, discussing its backstory and benefits.
Rochelle Maruch Miller: What problem were you trying to solve when you started YieldStreet?
Michael Weisz: As an investment manager, I often needed to decline smaller investors, as managing numerous small investments wasn’t efficient given the various administrative, regulatory, and compliance requirements. Hedge funds also typically carry large investment minimums and long windows that lock up capital, creating a lack of access to these types of investments for typical accredited investors.
On the investing side, Milind Mehere, my business partner and co-founder and CEO of YieldStreet, is a successful tech entrepreneur whose last company Yodle was recently acquired for $342 M. He was seeking investment opportunities outside the stock market with real collateral and attractive yields. He soon realized that these investments were nearly impossible for an accredited investor like himself to access.
Milind knew that other professionals like him were having the same problem. He felt passionately that they shouldn’t be excluded from solid investments because they weren’t multi-millionaires or huge corporations. Together we set out to find a solution. Forming our business partnership, we created YieldStreet, opening access to high-quality alternative investments for the first time.
RMM: It sounds really cool, Michael. What makes YieldStreet’s platform unique?
MW: It is pretty cool. YieldStreet has launched a platform with full transparency to everything you need to make an informed investment decision. We automate the entire process, allowing investors to easily complete numerous activities like reviewing offering documents, automatically linking banking information, receiving distributions, and downloading tax statements.
YieldStreet investments are easy to understand, are backed by strong collateral, and have low correlation in the broader market. This is incredibly exciting for the team as the majority of accredited investors have not yet participated in alternative investments as they have never been available before. With Yield Street, these opportunities are not only accessible, they are incredibly easy to be a part of.
RMM: Why should investors trust YieldStreet?
MW: YieldStreet puts a large focus on regulation and compliance and was granted Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) status by the Securities and Exchange Commission in April 2016.
YieldStreet also runs all potential offerings through our five-point investment philosophy, and as a result has accepted less than 10% of all potential offerings reviewed by the investment team.
RMM: Who is YieldStreet’s typical investor?
MW: They are coming from everywhere. In one of our offerings, we have both a multifamily office that has invested $4M, and a single individual who invested $10K. The beauty of the automated platform means we can support any accredited investor, and people of differing investment levels can participate in the same opportunities. We have everyone from an American pilot in Saudi Arabia to people in the Five Towns community and all over the country.
RMM: What do you feel YieldStreet can bring to the community?
MW: We want to help people meet their financial goals for the future and generate passive income. YieldStreet is not where you go for home runs but where you hit consistent doubles and triples. Not to say there will never be issues on the platform, but we are confident in the collateral behind our offerings.
RMM: What is the takeaway for our readers?
MW: Whether you choose to invest in YieldStreet or not, have a tough discussion with your family and understand where you are with your financial stability. Can you meet the demands facing you in 5, 10, and 20 years? This is the time to open the conversation. Will you have the necessary funds to pay for four or five tuitions and summer camps? Will you have the financial stability to pay for multiple weddings in the future, and bar/bas mitzvahs as well?
We also encourage everyone to think about wealth management holistically. Many of us don’t think about life insurance when we are in our 20s, but with longer life expectancy, often into the 80s and 90s, it is prudent to plan for the future and invest with someone you can trust.
Readers should also review YieldStreet University, which provides many great resources for people to understand general concepts about investing.
For additional information about YieldStreet, please visit www.yieldstreet.com/5TJT. v
Rochelle Maruch Miller is a contributing editor for the Five Towns Jewish Times. She is a journalist, creative-media consultant, and lecturer who writes for magazines, newspapers, websites, and private clients. She can be reached at Rochellemiller04@aol.com.