Non-Beta Alpha Clearing Week: Ben Harrison Managing Director, BNY Mellon | Pershing

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Ryan Morfin:

Welcome to NON-BETA ALPHA, I’m Ryan Morfin. On today’s episode we have Ben Harrison from Pershing talking to us about the changes in the custody landscape and what it means for advisors. This is NON-BETA ALPHA. (singing). Ben, welcome to the show. Thanks for joining us today.

Ben Harrison:

Thanks for having me, Ryan.

Ryan Morfin:

Well, we are living in unprecedented times right now. Volatility in Q2 was robust, the custodian landscape is changing. I would love to pick your brain today about some of the changes at Pershing, how you guys are deploying your leadership and resources through the changing environment that we’re in. And just to learn a little bit about how you guys are handling this new environment and what you think is on the horizon for financial advisors and RIAs and broker-dealers.

Ben Harrison:

Sure. That’d be terrific, Ryan. And as you mentioned it’s definitely an evolving marketplace and world that we live in. And I see that you’re coming on this program via Texas and in a suit and I’m in New Jersey in a golf shirt, so that’ll set the stage here for the environment that I think that we’re in for the foreseeable future. So looking forward to spending some time going over these issues with you today.

Ryan Morfin:

I really appreciate it. It’s funny, like you mentioned, Texas is open for business. We had some advisors show up to the office today for a tour and it’s funny, it’s really a tale of two markets. And I think the East Coast got hit harder earlier. I don’t think Texas is really appreciative of what’s coming our way. I have an inkling just because I see all my colleagues and friends on the East Coast and West Coast and Europe and it’s going to be a wild summer, I think.

Ben Harrison:

Absolutely, absolutely.

Ryan Morfin:

Well, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about some of the landscapes maybe in the custodian industry. There’s the Schwab-TD merger, there’s been the race to lower fees, huge increases in IT spending across the industry in fintech. What are some of the dynamics or the fundamentals that you’re watching as an executive in this space?

Ben Harrison:

Sure. We obviously lead with what’s going on in the pandemic but there’s been a tremendous amount of disruption in the space for really the last several years in a culmination that we saw as you pointed out in terms of some of the industry consolidation that kicked off last fall in regards to some of the retail custodians coming together. Also this price war towards a zero commission environment really gave us the opportunity to really validate everything that we knew that was going on in the marketplace around our strategy. We’re the only custodian that’s solely focused on helping RIAs grow and we think that that’s a unique opportunity for us and with disruption comes opportunity, so there’s a lot of different evolving dynamics in the marketplace.

Ben Harrison:

The main driver, however, is that the fiduciary model is winning and there is a movement towards holistic wealth management that is not slowing down. We see investors actually driving this demand and that is leading advisors, advisory firms to this space and everybody wants to participate in the financial advice market. So it’s we continue to see a bull market for financial advice and that’s positioning us well as well as firms like yourself and those that want to participate in this space.

Ryan Morfin:

We have the traditional custodians but you’ve got new entrants, maybe Morgan Stanley buying E-Trade or Goldman buying, I guess it was Folio buying United Capital. Do you think the wirehouses are trying to come into this space or are they a potential looming threat for the custody industry?

Ben Harrison:

Yeah. We’ve seen a number of shifts in terms of different players coming into the space as you know. And I think that that’s again a validation of our industry and those that want to participate in this segment of the marketplace because it’s the fastest growing segment of the financial advisor space. I think for years we’ve seen the wirehouses think about potentially how they’ll tap into this side of the business. We’ve seen Wells Fargo has had fina for many, many years. We’ve seen others… The emergence of private client divisions and ways in which to serve the upper echelon of an advisor base.

Ben Harrison:

I think it’s going to be a tough road for wirehouses to really embrace the full open architecture and independent model. But we’re going to continue to see new iterations and ways in which firms reimagine the way that they serve the advisor landscape. And there’s no question that some of the top teams at the wirehouses are looking for a new home.

Ryan Morfin:

And it’s also interesting. I mean, there’s been lot of… We’re calling it, it went with the digital moment, a lot of focus on fintech. Companies like Addepar are coming in. Are they starting to encroach beyond their traditional portfolio reporting? Or do you think, are there risks from some of the fintech companies on the horizon for the custodians?

Ben Harrison:

Well, the idea behind all of this is really client experience is at the core of what is required in order to have a differentiated solution for advisors. The way that we think about it is we believe that a fully integrated solution set around our core technology, the ability to integrate very effectively with a variety of different fintech providers. Addepar is a great example, we’ve got a great relationship with Addepar. And this ecosystem is going to continue to grow and evolve and there’s going to be room for many different providers to play a role in all of this.

Ben Harrison:

Back to around the digitization of the business this pandemic has absolutely underscored the fact that digitization and technology are business-imperative they’re no longer a nice-to-have. Those firms that aren’t investing significantly in their experience in a virtually-led, digitally-led type of environment, they’re not going to participate on the upside of growth. Again, I think that there’s room for multiple players and it’s about curating the solutions together and providing some choice, but also a clear vision towards an integrated experience that is going to win in the end.

Ryan Morfin:

And do you see, I mean, given that there’s been this pressure down in probably increased CapEx for the entire industry, do you see in the next few years CapEx cycles, will there be a lot more emphasis from the custodians on more tech spending or have you guys made a lot of that backend in the last few years? Is it going to be an ongoing consistent spend or do you guys feel like the digital infrastructure you guys have been building, I know you spent a lot of money on lately, keeps you up… You can amortize it down for a few years?

Ben Harrison:

Yeah. We see it continuing to increase. And what we’re doing at BNY Mellon-Pershing is we’re doubling down on the advisory space and really investing a significant amount of our capital in building out solutions and talent in the RIA space and the wealth advisory space across our firm. From a CapEx perspective, and I think that this is really interesting, in the environment that we’re in much of our spending has been on foundational items. About the resiliency across our platform we were able to move to a work-from-home environment really, really quickly.

Ben Harrison:

And that’s all of the questions that… Before this happened nobody asked in due diligence of visits to come see us to ask, “How prepared are you for a pandemic?” There’s a bunch of… You think about the iceberg and the tip of the iceberg of everything that you see and touch and feel in our world, underneath that there’s just a whole foundation of us being able to provide strength, stability and resiliency to the financial systems people support.

Ben Harrison:

Again, from CapEx I see increased spending in technology for firms like ours as well as RIA firms. I see probably a draw down in real estate. It’s going to take some time but I think that everybody is re-imagining who needs to be in the office, what the priority is for, how big your real estate footprint is. I mean, we’ve all got longterm leases, it’s going to take a long time. But I think for wealth management businesses that can be highly virtually-led and it’s going to change the way people think about it.

Ben Harrison:

And then from a human capital perspective, I’d say we’re going to continue to see firms look for talent and they’re going to look for more diverse talent with everything that’s going on in the marketplace. And they absolutely should because we are very… It’s not a balance right now in terms of those that are working in our businesses and having the proper diversity, and there’s going to be a major focus on that. That’s going to be a big emphasis as well.

Ryan Morfin:

Yeah. I think I saw somewhere in one of the industry rags that your parent company just put a huge chunk of capital into your tech spend and so it looks like you guys are definitely doubling down on the digitization trend as well. Well, one final comment on pricing. I know there’s been the pricing war. What are your thoughts on where pricing goes in this industry? Is it more a la carte? Is it subscription-

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:11:04]

Ryan Morfin:

… where pricing goes in this industry. Is it more a la carte? Is it subscription-based? How does the pricing model change? What’s becoming the flavor du jour for RIAs today from a pricing standpoint?

Ben Harrison:

Sure. We think the evolution of pricing is actually in the very early innings. We were one of the first firms to come out with an innovative subscription-based pricing model. And the reason we did that is because the historic pricing model has been driven by the retail players, right? So essentially, the RIA model has adopted a retail brokerage type of environment, and we don’t think that that is in alignment with the model for the future of the wealth management ecosystem. So it hasn’t been completely… all of this hasn’t found its way through the entire process yet. So again, I believe we’re in the early innings right now, but at the end of the day, clients want transparency. They want access to the best possible services, solutions, and technology for an appropriate price. They don’t want to be judged on the products that they use. They want full, open architecture to a wide variety of products and solutions that don’t necessarily compensate the custodians for those services. They should have an open, kind of level playing field, and they want the ability to pick and choose those as they go.

Ben Harrison:

So I believe we’re going to move towards more of a bundled approach as we go forward, so that’s why we like the subscription model. You get what you pay for. It’s a flat fee. You get full access to all of the products and services on the platform. You get access to a higher yielding cash sweep vehicle once we hopefully return to a more normalized interest rate environment. So it’s going to be an evolution, but there’s no question it’s got to change. And the prices are going to be compressed, and there’s going to be a bright light on what is actually free and what is provided for a value.

Ryan Morfin:

Well, you bring up a great point. Net interest margins are solo. Very quiet on the interest rate front. Are you guys underwriting that this comes back? You think interest rates normalize in the next few years, or do you think it’s going to be a long period of low rates?

Ben Harrison:

Well, we just heard from Powell last week or the week before that they’re not going to move for the foreseeable future. So I think that we’re going to run our business knowing that we’re not going to depend on interest rates coming back in any time in the near future, and that’s how we’ve always thought about our business. And frankly, we like our position because we don’t want to depend on one sole revenue model or lever in order to maintain our viability as a company. So we are going to manage it to that extent that we’re in this for the longterm.

Ben Harrison:

And advisory firms have to think of the same implications for their business. I think that a lot of people are thinking right now about the fee for asset type of model, which is obviously growing in the wirehouses and it’s growing in the RIA space tremendously over the last 10 years, and there are implications to that. We had a pretty good bounce-back in markets, but the first quarter everybody took a big hit because of that.

Ryan Morfin:

So the advisors that you talked to, and I know you guys have a very active pipeline, what are some of the concerns they have, besides the markets, the volatility? From just actually running their business, what are some of the concerns right now for having people move to an independent model?

Ben Harrison:

Sure. So the current environment that we’re in, actually firms that we work with on our platform or other prospective firms that we’re talking to or advisors in the wirehouse environment, et cetera, they’ve been very resilient and have been able to adapt to this environment, especially the independent model. Mainly operate in a cloud-based environment, able to move to a digital remote environment very easily. They can utilize our infrastructure as an outsourced vendor to help them with resiliency, and we’re the backbone of it so they heavily depend upon us. So that allows them to be very nimble and flexible, so that’s been fine. The BAU type of environment was accomplished very quickly in this pandemic.

Ben Harrison:

What consistently I hear across the board is while everybody feels good about their resiliency and their ability to serve clients, growing is a pain point right now. It’s how do I find new clients if we’re going to be in this environment for a really long time? The old model of financial advisory was go have in-person meetings, get referrals from clients, do events, meet people at the country club in your local towns. All of that is completely just evaporated for now. So we believe that it’s going to continue, even when we emerge out of this, that kind of a digitally led, virtually led type of client experience is going to have to be adopted. So you’re going to have to have a much more articulated marketing plan around how you’re going to generate leads via social media versus the traditional ways in which you historically had. So it’s really around growth right now that I think everybody’s worried about and all really thinking about, okay, how do we do this in the new normal? And the new normal is going to be here for a long time.

Ryan Morfin:

And I think the new model around client engagement and lead gen is going to be a tremendous one that a lot of advisors are going to have to figure out. We’re definitely working a lot on those fronts with our tier-one advisors to try to help them figure out the right path forward. The other strategy is M&A, and I know you guys service a lot of big RIAs. Any thoughts on the RIA, M&A, or broker dealer environment from 2019 and what you think it’s going to look like a year from now?

Ben Harrison:

Yeah. So 2019 was a record year. Actually, last three to five years have been kind of a ramp up to that record of volumes. We don’t see it slowing down. And actually, even in this environment we’ve seen some fully digital or virtual fairly significant deals being closed that just kind of show that this can happen, a fully Zoom-led M&A environment. I don’t see it slowing. I mean, we obviously saw a little bit of a dip in the heat of the pandemic, but everybody’s having conversations. Scale still matters. We’re going to continue to see this play out, the generational shift play out. The advisory marketplace is still highly composed of founder firms, founder-led firms that are baby boomer generation that still need to transition their businesses to the next generation. So there’s going to be succession plan, and there’s going to be big, strategic acquisitions. We see many strategic acquires doing acquisitions, and we’ve seen the continued migration of this business from small practices to real businesses to now major enterprises that are beginning to infiltrate the independent wealth management marketplace. So we see continued growth in M&A.

Ryan Morfin:

We agree. There’s been all a few deals announced and more lenders coming into the space, too. A few big refinancings, including ours, consummated in April this year. So it’s bizarre to see, during all that volatility, there’s still an underlying investor demand for deploying capital into the space, and it’s a longterm trend that we’re pretty favorable on. One question I have for you is you guys are helping breakaways and RIAs build their businesses. How has your business development changed given the current posture we’re in? How is Pershing handling business development looking forward?

Ben Harrison:

Yeah. So we’re re-imagining that as well, and we’re doing virtual transitions. So we had a breakaway team just this week join our platform. We have a really strong pipeline of a number of teams that are going to be joining here in the not too distant future. And you’re seeing this start to pop, pop, pop across the industry right now. We’re starting to see an emergence of the teams that were kind of pent up demand in the pandemic now coming out launching their businesses. So from a transition standpoint we’re doing a lot of virtually-led, e-signature type of transitions. From a business development standpoint, I have to say, our team is more productive than they ever have been. Not to say that we weren’t productive in the past, but we did spend a lot of time on planes. We did spend a lot of time at conferences. We did spend a lot of time in meetings. And now we’re getting the full value of the day, and we’ve really seen an uptick in the pipeline and what that looks like. So there’s no question-

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Ben Harrison:

And what that looks like. So there’s no question this is still a relationship based business and we still have to be back in person and having … really building, cultivating relationships, and trust and that’s going to continue. But I do think on the other side of this, we are going to see a slightly different model in terms of business development, where we’re doing all the things that we’re telling an advisory firms that they need to do. It’s got to be led digitally. We’ve got to invest in social. We’ve got to invest in paid digital media, we’ve got to do video, we’ve got to do these types of webcasts and podcasts. We’ve got to have an omni channel type of approach to get to our very targeted audience and that’s going to evolve.

Ben Harrison:

And what I tell my team all the time is it’s a level playing field. Everybody’s operating under the same conditions. It’s like a blizzard condition in a football game and both teams are playing in the same environment. And we need to recreate what that looks like. And it’s actually exciting. It’s new things to talk about. It’s new ways in which to approach the business. And for those that are energized, there’s a tremendous amount that we they can do in terms of thinking about the future and really defining the process.

Ryan Morfin:

No, it absolutely is a level playing field like you said, and I think it’s the organizations that can recreate new strategies and do growth experiments are going to be the ones that can really outperform and grab market share. And that goes from the custody landscape, to RAs, to broker dealers, to the advisors. You mentioned something about succession earlier and you guys have talked a lot about it in the press as well, and it’s an industry issue. What are your thoughts … some of your more sophisticated RA clients, what are their thoughts and your thoughts about G2, the next gen? How should we as an industry be approaching, building a deeper talent pool? What are some thoughts that Pershing has on that?

Ben Harrison:

Yeah. So we are absolutely committed to the next generation and really getting those involved very early in the process and focusing on development. We have a next gen leadership council within Pershing that we have our next gen lead. And they invite a cohort of next gen leaders within advisory firms to participate with us and go through some of these issues. And it’s really interesting how many firms … the financial business in general has never really embraced younger professionals, Silicon Valley has and they’ve definitely taken advantage of that. And we’re starting to see a shift, but it’s really interesting that many advisory leaders believe that the next gen really can’t run their company as well as them. And that’s got to change, that mentality has to change. And the way that we’re going to change it is through development and really committing to provide resources to the industry and get young people involved and ensure that they have a career path, and that this is a great business to work in.

Ben Harrison:

And one of the ways that we can do that is around diversity, as I mentioned earlier, and that’s a key component of this, that folks coming out of school can’t just think of the financial advisory business as being a sales job and going out and having to get your own book of business via cold calling. It’s got to be a career path about how you learn, and develop yourself and a process of continuous learning in the space. And it’s a great business to be in. So we take it really seriously. I just took on this new role and it’s been years in the making in terms of a succession plan. And when I joke around with my team here, I was in the job that I had previously for five years before I just moved into this one. And in the first meeting that I had with my manager at that time, he started talking about, “Okay, we’ve got to get you ready for the next job.”

Ben Harrison:

That’s unbelievable in terms of you just get a job and they’re already talking about, “Okay, what do we need to do to get you to the next level?” It’s like, “Well, can I do a good job at this one for a little bit of time?” But that’s the mentality that you’ve got to have.

Ryan Morfin:

Yeah, Mark did a great job, but it seems like you’ve come into the role seamlessly and it just shows the depth of the team there at Pershing. I think the communications are so … the normal that Mark had and now you’ve kind of got thrown into this new environment. How has communication as a leader changed to not only your employees, but also your clients? How have you taken … has it been a different approach or has it been always the same approach? How are you handling client communication?

Ben Harrison:

So the way that we’ve been handling client communication is when we think we’re over-communicating or that people are sick and tired of hearing from us, we say we should be doing more. And that’s what we hear from our clients. Everybody’s hunkered down. And there’s really a thirst to communicate into here what’s going on. One of the things that we’ve quickly recognized, at the beginning we needed to over-communicate and let our clients know that we were safe, secure, resilient, and able to support their business. And then it moved quickly to the focus on their businesses and what they’ve really asked us for and embraced is hearing from their peers, what the firm down the street is doing, how they’re dealing with different challenges in their business. There’s this kind of connection that they need to have. So we’ve been over-communicating, we’ve been communicating in multiple channels via email, via social, via video.

Ben Harrison:

I send out videos to our team. We do Zoom calls. We do high interaction in virtual. And then also we take a break from that because people get burned out on that. And if I look at my calendar all day, I’m on video call after video call and then boom, there’s a dial in call or one-on-one where we’re not going to do a video. And it’s almost like a vacation. It’s like, “Okay, I get to take a little bit of a break here.” Video is definitely more engaging, but you have to have variety in your communication as well. So we think about it a lot and we’re erring towards the side of over-communicating everything I see in the advisor community, RAs, really we’re nimble, and flexible and communicating with their clients.

Ben Harrison:

And that’s a big benefit of the independent model too, is you didn’t have to wait for approvals and can we do this a new way? And can I get this approved? You can just go out and do it and run your business the way that the marketplace demands you to do so.

Ryan Morfin:

Do you think that it’s going to be harder to maintain, or build or grow culture if we’re all working remotely? Or do you think that … I think it’s hard. You’ve got a current existing team that you guys have all been working together, but to bring somebody from the outside in say three or six months later, and they’re starting their job, working from home, do you think there’s going to be diminishing returns for, I’ll call it the intangible asset from culture, will it be harder to maintain that you think in the future for the industry?

Ben Harrison:

Could be. We’ve onboarded employees in this environment. It’s actually going quite well. We host a virtual town hall. We introduce the new employees. I think actually this environment has amplified the need for people to be empathetic, to really kind of peel back some of the facade to be a little bit more casual in this environment to see into people’s homes. You’re in my basement right now. This is our home office. To hear people’s dogs in the background. And at BNY Mellon Pershing, there’s been a really strong message from the top of the house about people first, about ensuring our people are safe, secure, and supported, and that message is actually helping our culture significantly and bringing people together. So even in a virtual environment, yes, it’s going to be really hard.

Ben Harrison:

And do we all want to get back to a more normalized environment where we can spend time face to face? You bet. And there’s going to be challenges, but there’s been some of these silver linings that have helped people get a little bit more personal in their relationships in the workplace that actually are going to benefit us in the long run.

Ryan Morfin:

No. I agree. I think it started off as working from home, but now I think that the empathetic phrase is now, “You’re at home working.” And I think people are really appreciating the humanization of their peers and even competitors and things like that. And no, I think it’s going to open up a new work life balance, but I think culture is going to be an interesting conversation point for firms to maintain.

Ben Harrison:

And I’ll say one other thing just a quick note on that is flexibility is one of the underlying things that I have heard across the board people desire. It’s not that people don’t want to go back into an office environment, we’re all clamoring for that. We want that in person experience, but the idea of maybe having some flexibility and knowing that you can still get your job done in a variety of-

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Ben Harrison:

… in knowing that you can still get your job done in a variety of different elements is eyeopening for everybody.

Ryan Morfin:

Yeah. And I think that’s going to be a critical future, new normal hiring issues. How flexible were you in the pandemic and how flexible do you plan to be in the future? But we have seen an increase in productivity from our staff as well. And I think it’s that maybe lack of commute time or, more focused presence, because there’s nothing else to really go out and do, has had some silver linings. And so what are other silver linings that you see, whether it’s in our industry, or in the US economy today? What’s your outlook and where are you optimistic?

Ben Harrison:

Yeah, I’m tremendously optimistic, I think that this has proven, if you were to ask any of us New Year’s Day, what we would be doing in June. And the fact that I would say, “Well, I’ve been working at home now for a hundred days and we’re onboarding and we continue to onboard clients in a virtual world. We’ve got over 95% of our global workforce, which is approaching 50,000 employees at BNY Mellon working from home. And we did it with almost without missing a beat”, we would all be amazed.

Ben Harrison:

And I think that one silver lining in all of this is that we are amazed and we know now that we are capable of things that we had no idea that we were capable of. And that’s in our business, that’s in our personal lives, that’s in our economy. And there are significant challenges right now that we all face in the world around socioeconomic challenges and everything else that’s coming at us. But I am optimistic, because I know that we can get through it and we can be better on the other side. So that’s really the silver lining.

Ryan Morfin:

And not that this is not a silver lining, but what are your thoughts on Reg BI and how is that going to change our industry going forward do you think?

Ben Harrison:

Yeah, so I think that there’s still a lot that we have to learn about Reg BI and the longterm implications. It’s definitely putting a focus on, again, the fiduciary, the advice model and acting in the best interest of a client and putting more of a bright light on those items. It’s still not clear as to, at the end of the day, if clients really understand it and the way that they’re going to interface with their, or interact with their financial advisor. There’s implications for firms to ensure that they’re prepared for it. And they have all the policies and procedures and the way that they’re going to do their CRS forms and present their services to their clients, so early innings. And it’s going to definitely keep the compliance teams busy.

Ryan Morfin:

Yeah. It’s going to be, like you said, early innings and probably going to require some tech spend that people hadn’t thought about yet. We’re really looking at how we can make the process painless, but making sure we’re capturing all the blotters, and the advice that’s being given out.

Ryan Morfin:

Well, at our firm, we have a concept, internally and externally we’re calling the summer of self-improvement. Besides work, have you picked up any new hobbies, or picked up any new skills, or are you doing anything with a little bit of extra time, you have the, you don’t have to commute.

Ben Harrison:

So I’ve got two young girls, a soon to be ten-year-old and a soon to be eight-year-old here in the next two weeks. Their birthdays are going to happen. And we’ve, we’ve planted a garden and we’re starting to get a yield. So we’ve got a lettuce and I saw that we’ve got some zucchinis coming and some tomatoes, so that’s been exciting. And the girls like to see that emerge and we’ve become quite the badminton family. We’ve got a badminton net and the first couple times it was pretty tough, we weren’t clearing the net. And now we’ve got spirited, two on two battles going on in the backyard. So it’s been fun.

Ryan Morfin:

People don’t realize, badminton it’s a fast sport. The bird flies around quickly. That’s good exercise. The gardening as well. General McChrystal was on one of our leadership series and he was mentioning, a good leader is like a good gardener, cultivating and harvesting people. And I thought that was a really interesting metaphor. And I started a garden too. The yield has been good, but we haven’t not killed all the plants yet, so we’re working on it.

Ryan Morfin:

Absolutely. Are there any books that you’re reading right now, or are there podcasts, or newsletters that you read to shape your macro view on our industry, or macroeconomics?

Ben Harrison:

Yeah, it’s interesting, I get so much of my news source via social media channels. So I follow all of the trade publications and CNBC and Barron’s and Wall Street Journal, all of that online. The Facebook feed, an Instagram feed, any other social channels, Twitter. Twitter is one of the things, that was the best way to get any sort of coronavirus updates in your local community, from your mayor and see how many new cases are coming and what the story is. So everybody is now engaging on Twitter and following a number of sources.

Ben Harrison:

I’m reading, you brought up virtual culture. That’s the type of articles and focuses that I’ve been focused on. And I’ve been reading Shoe Dog by the Founder of Nike, Phil Knight.

Ryan Morfin:

Oh, that’s great. That’s a book on my list. I’ll hopefully get to it this summer. Fantastic. Well, Ben, I really appreciate you joining us. Looking forward to continuing the conversation and thank you for sharing your thoughts about the changes you see on the horizon for the industry.

Ben Harrison:

Great. Thanks so much for having me, Ryan.

Ryan Morfin:

Have a great day.

Ryan Morfin:

Thanks for watching Non-Beta Alpha. And before we go, please remember to subscribe and leave us a review on Apple podcasts, and our YouTube channel.

Ryan Morfin:

This is Non-Beta Alpha and now you know.

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PART 4 OF 4 ENDS [00:42:26]

 

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Ryan Morfin: Welcome to Non-Beta Alpha. I'm Ryan Morfin. On today's episode, we have Pini Althaus, CEO of USA Rare Earth, talking to us about the supply chain glut in rare earth minerals. This is Non-Beta Alpha.

Ryan MorfinPini, Welcome to the show. Thank you for coming on today.

Pini AlthausThank you for having me, Ryan. Good to be here.

Ryan Morfin: So you're an investor and a miner in rare earth minerals. Can you share with our listener base, what are rare earth minerals? Why are they important and why is there a geopolitical race going on globally?

Pini AlthausYeah, I mean, rare earths are an extremely ubiquitous part of all advanced manufacturing or technology manufacturing today's day and age. Several years ago, I had not heard too much about rare earths myself. I was not that familiar with it and being involved in this sector, in this company, for the past few years has given me an education of course. And I mean, I was sad to hear that 50% of all imports into the United States contain are earth elements and it runs the gamut from consumer electronic devices that we use every day. Our cell phones, our laptops, most communication devices, medical equipment. So there's a tie with COVID, which we can touch on at your discretion. Electric vehicles, defense equipment. So pretty much anything or everything high tech today has a rare earth element or critical minerals contained within them.

Ryan MorfinAnd what are some of the names of some of the more important rare earth? I know there's lithium for batteries, but what else is considered in this category, critical?

Pini Althaus: Yeah, so lithium is a separate category to battery material. The rare earths are 17 rare earths. The four, let's call it, key rare earths that we're focused on at our company, the four rare earths that go into the permanent magnets. And these are the magnets that are found, there are a number of them in your back of your cell phone or an iPad. But if you look at an F35 striker jet, you've got about a ton of rare earth magnets in those. And we've got two heavy rare earths and two light rare earths is part of the permanent magnets. You've got dysprosium, ytterbium are the heavies, and then you've got neodymium, praseodymium as the two light rare earths. So those would be key rare earths that are the focus.

Ryan MorfinAnd you use these in, I guess, in military applications as well, but historically, where has the United States sourced the rare earth for supply chain?

Pini AlthausYeah. And that's the shocking part. We've been securing those materials from China. So China controls the rare earth sector and has done so for the past 30 years or so. And it was a significant misstep on the part of the United States, allowing China to have this control. And actually this wasn't a question of China coming in and doing anything nefarious as far as stealing IP or anything. The US government made a conscious decision about 30 years ago to allow China to come to the United States and acquire the processing capabilities for rare earths. So just as part of some background, you've got the rare earth materials containing various mining projects, but once you extract them, you have to then process them and they go through certain phases before they get to the magnet phase. And China, the thought process was let China do the mining, let China do the processing.

Pini AlthausWe don't need to do that here. And we'll buy the materials from China cheaply and the premier of China at the time, Deng Xiaoping made the comment, he said, "The Middle East has oil. China has rare earths." And unfortunately we weren't smart enough to understand what he was saying. And the Chinese understood that the future of manufacturing is going to revolve around control of the rare earth and critical mineral supply chain. So if you think about it today, Ryan, we cannot build... Forget about consumer electronics and medical equipment. We cannot build the equipment that the US Pentagon or the US armed forces require, whether it's F35 fighter jet, Tomahawk cruise missile, communications equipment, without going to China and obtaining those materials. And it's obvious to all that this should be extremely alarming. We've seen China use this as a weapon, if you will, as far as how it interacts with other countries back in 2010, when there was a dispute between China and Japan on the East China Sea.

Pini AlthausSo China cut off rare earth exports from Japan for 40 days. Japan obviously being a significant user of rare earth elements for their high-tech manufacturing sector, that was stopped after 40 days. But in fact, it was President Obama that first made the United States aware of this, formed a division within the Department of Defense to handle this issue, but not much has happened. And we continue to be relying on China for these materials. And what has been made about trade war with China and whether the trade war is really the impetus for China withholding rare earth exports. And that is a huge misnomer. Whilst China had been talking or implying that they would cut off rare earth exports, the truth of the matter is that China, under it's made in China, 2025 mandate, its belt and road initiatives and others. And you seem to control the critical minerals and rare earth supply chain so that it can continue its dominance as a manufacturer or a global supplier of these materials and finished products.

Pini Althaus: It's the backbone of its economy. And in fact, China has become a net importer of rare earths from different countries like Miramar and others. So with that, they are decreasing the exports to countries like the United States, Japan and others.

Ryan Morfin: And was it ever a risk that the Chinese were going to turn off the exports of rare earth to the US during the trade war? How close were we to that? And was that ever some saber rattling that went down during trade negotiations?

Pini AlthausYeah, I think it was saber rattling. I think it would be paramount to an act of war. I can't say with any authority that that would not happen, but it would be probably, aside from war itself, it would be one of the most significant acts of war cutting the United States off from the ability to procure rare earths. But that being said, I mean, if you look at, as an analogy, the oil and gas sector and the reliance of the United States had for many, many years on OPEC countries to supply us with the oil. And we had embargoes and we had price manipulation by OPEC. This is far more significant given the ubiquity of where these rare earths go. And yes, we're always under the threat that China can cut off exports under the guise of a trade war or for any other nefarious reasons.

Pini AlthausBut I think even more importantly, to just as the natural run of the course of things with regards to their business and their desire to maintain themselves as the global leader in manufacturing and exporting of goods, China is in a position now where it actually requires these materials for their own domestic consumption and can legitimately cut off rare earth exports by stating that they need it for manufacturing and that would actually be somewhat correct. So we're in an extremely dangerous position here with this reliance on China. And it wouldn't just be China. If it was another country, it would be similar issues, not to the same extent, but reliance on one country for these materials is dangerous.

Ryan Morfin: And it's been mentioned in the past that in 2010, China flooded the market to really kill all the competitors in the rare earth mining industry. Where was the World Trade Organization during this period? And how did that play out and how does that set the chess board for China to run the tables?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah. So the WTO stepped in when China cut off rare earth exports from Japan, I think it lasted for about 40 days because the US and Japan protested the WTO, and they stepped in and China resumed exports. While I'm not an expert on these trade matters, one thing that I am aware of is that one of the reasons why China had to resume the export of rare earths was it did not legitimately need all the rare earths for domestic consumption. So therefore it was a nefarious act, if you will, to cut off rare earth exports. Now that has changed, which means China have to cut off rare earth exports today, they have a legitimate case to say that they require these materials. There's a shortage of these materials and they require them for their own domestic purposes. It is the backbone of their economy and there's very little we could do about this today, which is why it's becoming an even more urgent issue.

Ryan Morfin:

And the US government started stockpiling some of these after that incident. Can you talk a little bit about what DOD and DOE has done to start making sure that there's not a critical supply shortage going forward, and is it enough?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah, again, there is a national defense stock pile, and there are materials still that the United States needs to procure in order to shore up its stockpile. There are magnets, the finished magnet products as well, the United States government needs to stockpile. Again, there's a limited amount that the United States government has. It requires approval from Congress, whether it's in the NDAA or other approvals from Congress, to allocate monies for the national defense stock pile of these materials. That being said, there's no endless supply of these materials. And unfortunately, the apparatus, the way it's set up right now with the US government, it's going to continue to require having a secure supply chain of those materials for many, many years to come. So it's not a question of stockpiling for 10 or 20 years, and then this complacency and saying, we'll kick the can down the road. But keep in mind as well, Ryan, that US government accounts for low single digits of overall rare earth imports into the United States.

Pini Althaus:

We're talking about defense contractors, we're talking about the manufacturing sector. The direct impact this has on the economy, jobs, the automotive sector, and others is significant. So it's not just limited to the United States government. If you look at over the past couple of weeks, the sanctions that China have put on Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed, et cetera. I mean, the question is where are they going to get those materials? And if we go beyond that, you need rare earths for the 5G network. Now that Huawei has been banned from installing the network, not only in the US but other countries, we have to have the ability to get a secure supply of these materials as well. Which currently, again, trying to control the hundred percent. So it runs across the board, both for government, defense and manufacturing in this country.

Ryan Morfin:

Well, and so help me paint a picture for our audience. Does China have all the mines for rare earth, or they're the only ones who started mining it? Or are their mines globally dispersed and nobody's been doing the actual infrastructure to do the mining?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah. So finding rare earth projects or rare earth elements is not the difficult part. It's finding them in significant quantities that makes a project economically viable. And part of that consideration are the environmental rigors that companies in the West have to adhere to. And China, even by their own admission, have had a complete disregard for mining these materials and even for processing these materials. And in fact, just the last week or so, the BBC did an expose on this, 60 Minutes has done an expose on this. But the Chinese have not denied this and have talked about cleaning up their act, but it has an effect on the bottom line for what the costs of mining and processing are if you have no environmental standards to adhere to. So China have exploited those rare earth projects they have, primarily in inner Mongolia, and have brought a number of projects online and quite quickly, and in a significant way, with a complete disregard for the environment.

Pini Althaus:

So it was seen as an environmental no-no in the West for many years. Now, what's happened over the past few years is you're starting to see rare earth projects in different parts of the world sprout up. You've got the Mountain World project in Australia owned by Linus, which is a producer of Nd and Pr, neodymium and praseodymium. So two of the light rare earths. They may have some heavy rare earths coming online at some point in time. And you've got Arafura, which is another company in Australia that we're working with to assist them with their processing so they don't have to send the materials to China for processing. But really these are a drop in the bucket for what the requirements are for the United States. And certainly what the requirements are for allied countries, the EU, et cetera. So there is a race, if you will, worldwide to start bringing projects online. The Chinese are very active in trying to secure assets outside of China.

Pini Althaus:

So in Africa. They have ownership of a project in Greenland. So there is somewhat of a race. The Australian government has stepped in and has started limiting the ability for China to own, or have ownership in, or off takes for the Australian rare earth projects. And that's part of the strategic Alliance between Australia and the US. Canada, similar thing as well. There are a number of projects that are looking to come alive, but these projects are, for the most part, will take many, many years to come online. We have to expedite the process. We have to assist with a [inaudible 00:14:41] supply chain and the domestic rare earth sector, because previously investors have been scared off by things like China flooding the market, which is not a possibility at this point in time, given that China can't actually afford to flood the market. They are already very heavily subsidizing their mine to magnet supply chain there.

Pini Althaus:

This is more now a case of being able to get production from non-Chinese sources so that the United States and allies have a viable, secure supply chain of these materials. And it's a concern worldwide. We speak to governments all over the world, and we're all facing the same issue. Some more than others, especially countries like Japan, that don't have their own rare earth projects there and are reliant on Australia where they've made some investments there. And in the United States, they've made an investment recently in Africa. So there is this race, if you will. And I think we've got a five-year window here to at least stand up a few projects worldwide. Otherwise we've lost this race and we will be dependent on China for many, many years to come. And Ryan, it's a bit of a hypocrisy. If you look at it where you've got materials going through clean, green energy applications, like electric vehicles, wind turbines, et cetera.

Pini Althaus:

That we're sourcing these materials from China, where they've, again by their own admission, has been complete environmental devastation to water bodies around these mines and processing facilities, to the communities. People have been getting sick around these projects yet we're putting these materials into our electric vehicles or wind turbines. It makes no sense at all. And people are starting to wake up to this. And that's why the sector is starting to see a lot of support come out of Congress and bi-partisan support. And in fact, it's one of the only bi-partisan issues right now in Washington. And it's good to see that some things decided to move in the right direction.

Ryan Morfin:

And is there a special process? You talk about the expense, is it really difficult to mine these? You have to go through a special chemical process to extract and clean and purify. Is it a lot harder than, say, gold or silver or some of the other, we'll call, more traditional elements?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah. It's all about the processing to some extent. So if you look at MP Materials in California, which used to be Molycorp before they went through their bankruptcy. They are a miner of Cerium and Lanthanum, which are two of the light rare earths, the lower valued light rare earths. Given that they do not currently have processing technology, they are sending those materials to China for processing where China is tariffing those heavily. Linus is also, they're doing their processing work in Malaysia and elsewhere. So it's really about the processing at this stage. One of the things that we've done, after we put out our PDA last year with our upgraded resource, which now includes a significant amount of lithium. We make a decision that, based on the test work that we had done around our processing methodology, that we were not going to send our materials to China. That it's paramount for us to do this work in the United States and in a collaborative effort as well.

Pini Althaus:

We've been asked by some of our investors, "Well, why would you be looking to help other projects with their processing?" And the answer is simple. There's no one project or one company that's going to put China out of business or make a dent, or somehow be able to take care of the overall demand worldwide for rare earths and critical minerals. And it's very important for us to have processing capability in the West. So that was the impetus for us opening up our own rare earth and critical minerals processing facility earlier this year, which we did in Wheatridge, Colorado. And in fact, we've made some significant progress on the method that we're using for this. And we're starting to collaborate with Australian companies, Canadian companies. We're currently talking to a group over in Europe as well, because this has to be a collaborative effort.

Ryan Morfin:

How does Europe solve for these problems? Do they have this better under control than the US?

Pini Althaus:

No, they're in a far worse position than we are. The EU commission recently put out a report, I think, a couple of months ago that the requirement for rare earths is going to increase tenfold within a short period of time. Lithium 18 times. They don't really have rare earth projects. Again, there are the Greenland projects, which people have heard in the news recently. Those need to further development work so they don't have rare earth projects ready to come online there. There are a couple of lithium projects that are spread around Europe, but for the most part, Europe is in an even more precarious position. If you look at Germany with the auto manufacturers, you look at the big companies like ThyssenKrupp and others, all these countries and companies are looking for alternatives to China, because we've already seen in the news about China withholding or reducing exports of some of these rare earths that are required for these industries.

Ryan Morfin:

And you mentioned earlier the regulatory posture of the US makes it difficult to mine. Is it becoming a more bi-partisan issue that we need to maybe relax some regulation around the mining exercise, to incentivize private sector to come in and start producing this? Or is the Republican party versus the Democratic party on two separate pages of music?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah. Good question, Ryan. I mean traditionally the Republican party is obviously being more pro-mining and in favor of less regulation when it comes to these things. With regards to our project, we're on Texas state land. So we don't trigger federal environmental permitting at this point in time. And obviously Texas being Texas, a mining state and oil and gas state, things are a lot easier in Texas than they are on projects on federal land where the Bureau of Land Management controls the environmental process around that. But the thing is here, and I don't want to step into what other companies are doing, et cetera, but we do need to be reasonable about allowing projects to come online if they're adhering to environmental standards that are acceptable worldwide. And what we do know, is that China is destroying the environment and cities and water bodies around their mines and processing facilities.

Pini Althaus:

We have standards here in the United States, and I think what we need to do is make it easier for companies to mine, while at the same time protecting the environment. And there are ways to do that. And we're definitely seeing buy-in from Congress, from both sides, with regards to looking how we can stand up a secure supply chain. And, obviously under the Obama administration, they had very strict regulations when it comes to mining. And that's changed under the Trump administration. Hopefully what we start to see is some normal middle ground that'll allow other projects to come online.

Ryan Morfin:

And typically in these rare earth mines, is it amalgamation of different minerals that are all consolidated together and you have to separate them out? Or do you ever find pure play, Europium, I can't even pronounce some of these. Gadolinium, Cerium. I mean, are they all mixed together and you've got to filter and sift them through, or are they pure play mines?

Pini Althaus:

No, they're generally they have a mix. So they're polymetallic projects. They have a number of different materials. Some projects, you more to what we call the light rare earths like MP in California or Linus in Australia. Our project is actually on the opposite end of the spectrum. We have a very high concentration of heavy rare earths. That being said, we do have to go through a process of separating these materials. But the case of our project where we've got 30 materials. We're not going to produce 30 materials. We're not going to market 30 materials. So what we're doing is we're focusing on the key materials that are marketable, that we need for permanent magnets, lithium as well, and working on the separation and the optimization of those materials in particular. But we're all faced with the same processing challenges and that is something that can't be set.

Pini Althaus:

There's no easy way to do this. There are different technologies that have been used in different parts of the world. So predominantly there's a process called solvent extraction, but it's big, it's bulky, it's not benign. It's a bespoke solution for one particular project. So it doesn't work for feedstock from other projects. What we've done is we're using a processing technology that's actually been around since the 1940s. It was part of the Manhattan Project. It's called continuous ion exchange. In fact, the Chinese use it to increase the purities from 99.99 to four nines, five nines, and even six nines. So for some applications you require higher purity levels. It's a far easier processing method to scale up and to take feedstock from other projects. In fact, we've demonstrated for the Department of Energy that we can take coal waste from Pennsylvania and do high purity separation of rare earths using our processing methods. So it's not a step that can be skipped unless one needs to send it to China for processing, which is not going to help us with our objectives here.

Ryan Morfin:

How many other, we'll call it, going concerns on any other businesses that are doing this, that are trying to, I guess, start the development of these mines. Are you guys one of a few or are you one of many? And is it an international or just a US game? Who's leading the charge at going after this?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah, well, I'd say the Australians are leading it outside of China right now. You've got some really good projects in Australia. Again, more skewed toward the light rare earths. There's one more heavy rare earth project in Australia, which is not yet producing. The United States, you've got MP Materials, you've got Ucore in Alaska, you've got the Bear Lodge project in Wyoming, which is also another light rare earth project. So as far as a heavy rare earth project that looks like it will come online in the near term, that would be our project. In Canada there are a couple of projects there as well, and again, more skewed toward the light rare earths. But we really need to get as many of these projects online as possible. Because again, I don't see it as competition. We all have a problem doing supply agreements or offtake agreements for our materials.

Pini Althaus:

In fact, one of the things that we're going to have to consider is looking at potentially scaling up our production, based on the demand that we're already starting to see. And I think other companies would find that as well. So it's all about the economics of the project. You have projects that were economically viable back in 2012 or rare earth prices with 35% or so higher than they are today, and are not necessarily viable today. So that's the challenge as well, economically viable projects. And we've got to get as many of them online as possible. It takes many, many years. I mean, our project has had over $70 million put into it to get to where we are today, and we're close to getting to the production scenario. It all revolves around processing at this point in time.

Pini Althaus:

We'd be very happy to see another couple of projects come online, because this is extremely important for national security and for the economy as well. I mean, if you think about it, Ryan, if you've got a billion dollars of rare earth materials, that translates into a trillion dollars or I should say trillions of dollars of finished product. So you've got a magnet in your phone there that's worth a couple of dollars and the cell phone's a thousand dollars. And electric vehicles and defense applications even more.

Ryan Morfin:

Yeah, everyone has one of these iPhones now, and there's tremendous amounts of rare earth on the circuit boards here. And I think people take it for granted that that supply chain is not secure right now. So one question for you, there's talk of this maybe medium term to longterm, but there's talk about mining in space. Do you think that's a feasible option in the longterm, medium term? What are your thoughts on that?

Pini Althaus:

No, that's just ridiculous. I mean, we're trying to find ways to make mining on earth economically viable. I think the cost of going up to space would be more than what our capex will be bringing our entire project into production. I mean, we've got about a 350 to $400 million capex to bring 130 year mine life into production. I'm not an aerospace expert, but I think sending a rocket, building a rocket ship and sending it up, I think maybe on the fuel alone, you could bring a couple of projects into production. So unless we have a fortunate situation or an asteroid lands on earth, and fortunate if it lands somewhere where we don't care, I don't see how that happens. And if it's big enough, it's a problem as well. It's nonsense. And even, options aside of the deep sea mining for rare earths, I mean, you've got all sorts of environmental issues around that as well. I think we need to look at projects that we can bring online, that can be done so in an economic way, that can be done so in an environmentally responsible way.

Pini Althaus:

I mean, one of the things that we've done at our project is we've got in excess of 60% of the materials that have come out around top, will have a clean green energy applicability to them. So we're using the benign processing method. We're going to be using renewable energy on site. In fact, we will likely be putting a solar farm on site as well. We've talked to a couple of companies that have approached us about that, and we'll be a net producer of power for the surrounding area. So there are ways to do it which don't affect the environment. Obviously if there's a project that's situated on a sensitive area, that's a unique situation for that specific project. We've seen it with the Pebble project, which is not a rare earth project. The Pebble project in Alaska where their environmental concerns is we've been recognized by both Republicans and Democrats, but we have to be reasonable about the projects that don't have environmental concerns.

Ryan Morfin:

So Pini, in season two, we ask all of our guests a series of six questions. They're usually, yes, no questions, but trying to take a survey of our conversations. And if you want to add a little context to the yes or no, feel free, but here goes the first question. If there was a COVID vaccine available today, would you take it?

Pini Althaus:

Yes.

Ryan Morfin:

Who do you think is going to win the election?

Pini Althaus:

Which election?

Ryan Morfin:

The US election.

Pini Althaus:

Well, I think it looks like Joe Biden's going to win it, but I think what happens, if we go past January six from my understanding is that the house will vote on it and it's one vote per state. But I don't know if I see it getting there at this point in time. I really don't have a crystal ball.

Ryan Morfin:

Third question. What type of economic recovery are we in? What type of shape is it taking? A V-shape, W, U, L?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah, I think 2021 is going to be challenging. I think we've been, and rightly so. I mean, we've had no choice as of almost every other country. We've been printing money for the past year because of COVID. And I think we've got to brace ourselves that, at some point in time, the chickens come home to roost. It was a necessary step. People needed it on an individual level. Businesses needed it as well, but I think we've got to do whatever we can to stimulate the economy, give people confidence to go out and work again, employ people. So I think we've got to watch ourselves, especially in 2021. And I have some concerns, but long-term, I think the approach in the United States is a healthy one.

Ryan Morfin:

During lockdown this summer and quarantine, was there anything in particular that you accomplished that you're particularly proud of?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah. A great amount of family time, which, if you would've asked me a few years ago if I could sit at home and be at home for six months, I would have told you absolutely not. I wouldn't be able to do it for six days, but it has... I'm sure it's done this with a lot of families as well. It's brought families together. We had a baby actually last year on Thanksgiving. So I was doing a lot of travel at the time and thought I wouldn't get to see my daughter in her first year or couple of years too often. And being home with her every day is actually been just the most amazing experience. So thankful at least for some silver lining in COVID.

Ryan Morfin:

Are there any silver linings that you see in the economy going into 2021?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah, I think we've gone through an absolute beating and it looks like we've got the ability to come out of it. And I think that's a testament to how strong the economy was built up in the years preceding COVID. So overall I remain an optimist. I mean, we are a country built on opportunity and going out and making it happen. And we're not a socialist country sitting and waiting for people to send us paychecks or wealth distribution or anything like that. I think the American dream still lives on. I think if you go out and you're willing to work and put your head to it and heart in it, I think we do have the ability to climb out of it. So if we look at what the economy is doing over the past few weeks, it looks like it's starting to rebound. And to me, that's assuring because it could go completely one way as well.

Ryan Morfin:

And the last question is, is there anything that you're watching, or listening to, or reading today that has been impactful on your thinking that you'd like to share with our audience?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah, that's a good question. I think it's been more personal stories. The news, I sort of take that in context or with more than a grain of salt. In some cases stay off the news channels for a number of days at a time, it became quite repetitive. But I think on the personal side, talking to friends, my family's all back home in Australia, they've just come out of 110 day lockdown, which we can't relate to that. It's been very trying on them and seeing the fortitude that they've had to come out of that and stay intact. I think the mental health issues that will come out of COVID are going to have a far longer effect than the economic issues. I think we're going to have to focus on mental health issues in this country for a long time to come.

Pini Althaus:

The impact on kids has been significant with regards to lockdown or remote schooling, et cetera. But to see people come through it. I think it's a testament to people in general and to the country and other countries as well, to see got that fortitude and survival instinct to try to get through whatever adversity we can. So hearing the personal stories, the challenges that people have gone through, I think it's made me a lot more aware of things that I have to be thankful for and where we can help out other people as well. I think we have to be united going forward because there are things...

Pini Althaus:

I think one of the things that COVID has shown us is we can get into this complacency and life goes on and we go one day to the next. And all of a sudden we get hit by something that affects everybody equally. I mean, COVID, whilst there were groups of people, whether it was the elderly or people with underlying health conditions, that got hit the worst. I mean, we all got hit in some form or another. So really, this should be something that unites us, not divides us.

Ryan Morfin:

Well, Pini, I appreciate you coming on today to talk to us a little bit about the supply chain crimp on rare earth and we'll definitely keep an eye on it and would love to have you back in the future.

Pini Althaus:

Thank you, Ryan. Thanks for having me.

Ryan Morfin:

Absolutely. Thank you. Bye-bye. Thanks for watching Non-Beta Alpha. And before we go, please remember to like, and subscribe on Apple podcasts and our YouTube channel. This is Non-Beta Alpha, and now you know.

 

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