Those of you that have heard me speak on more than one occasion have probably heard me utter the phrase "Investing in emerging managers is like sex in high school. Lots of talk, very little action." In full disclosure, Jim Dunn of Verger was the first to utter those words, but they are so apropos that I have sense borrowed them for myself once or twice. (Thanks Jim!)
This week, I had the opportunity to informally poll investors and emerging managers, this time in the form of women-run funds, and that wonderful turn of phrase proved apt once again. In fact, I could almost hear Mike Damone saying "I can see it all now, this is gonna be just like last summer. You fell in love with that girl at the Fotomat, you bought forty dollars worth of [freakin'] film, and you never even talked to her. You don't even own a camera."
Indeed, it does seem as if investors often spend a lot of time stalking the camera store, but never getting the picture. So I decided to ask the audience of managers and investors at last weeks 100 Women in Hedge Funds Senior Practitioner Workshop where we stand and what could help the situation. Here's what I learned.
1) Some women-run funds may be getting lucky, but action is still sparse.
2) Managers feel that a number of things impede their ability to raise capital, but investors are focused primarily on only two issues: supply and size.
3) And the answer to what would make investing in women-run funds easier? Three words: Binders of Women. Just kidding, but better data sources for women-run funds, better consultant buy-in and the mysterious answer "other" all ranked pretty high. Some of the suggestions for "other" included more seed capital to help overcome AUM objections and more networking with managers you don't already know.
And, while these responses were specifically geared towards women owned and women run funds, in my conversations with investors, the issues are not entirely dissimilar for minority owned and run funds, or really any other emerging manager.
So, ladies and gentlemen, let's work the problem and see if there aren't good solutions to these issues. It will be healthy for me to have to come up with a new, creative and vaguely offensive way to describe the industry.
And please take a moment to support 100 Women in Hedge Funds as they are part of the solution and the reason I could run this quirky poll in the first place!