The summer can be a magical time. Whether you’ve spent the past couple of months hanging out with family, taking a much needed vacation or getting sucked into the daily political dumpster fire in the U.S., most folks spend all of August (and most of July) focused on more leisurely pursuits. In the investment industry, not a lot gets done this time of year to be honest. But in just a few short weeks, watch out! The conference calendar will kick into overdrive, investors will start planning end of the year allocations (and redemptions) and you’ll need to jump back into capital raising and investor relations with both feet.
To help you make the switch from porch swings and gin and tonics to panel discussions and bad chardonnay, I’ve enlisted the help of Emoji MJ to give you your “back to school” checklist. Be sure you pay attention, class…Emoji MJ may be taller, thinner and have tamer hair than I (aside: Emoji MJ is clearly French), but I’ve still heard she can be a real beeyotch.
1) The first thing you need to assess is whether you have the right staff in place for your marketing and investor relations efforts. If you're a smaller fund, you may be pulling double duty as both portfolio manager and the marketing staff, but even then, you should take time to think about whether that's the best use of your time and, frankly, whether you're any good at raising assets. If you do have internal or external help, make sure they are a good fit for your firm and have great connections with potential investors. If you're wondering what questions you should ask, check out my blog on The Vicky Mendoza Line And Fund Marketers.
2) Your next order of business will be to compile an investor hit list. This means taking a hard look at who your best prospects may be. This does not mean creating a wish list of investors that could write you an enormous check so you don't have to think about capital raising again. If you're sub $100 million, that likely means thinking about how you can meet additional HNW individuals and family offices and maybe a MoM (Manager of Managers/Fund of Funds) or two. If you're in the big league, your prospecting will obviously look a little different. For those of you who need a refresher on this particular step, please revisit this blog on Targeting Potential Investors.
3) The third item on your "back to school" prep list is to revisit your pitch book. Make sure it works for you, whether you're walking an investor through it, sending it in advance or leaving it as a follow up. Your pitch book is really an extension of you, so make sure it is as compelling and complete as possible, without overloading unsuspecting prospects with superfluous (or uninspiring) information. If you need pointers on building the perfect pitch book, please check out The Ten Commandments for Pitch Book Salvation AND The Seven Deadly Sins of Pitch Books.
4) Got your pitch book nailed down? Good! Now practice how you're going to convey all that juicy info into one 5 minute elevator pitch. That's right...no investor, no matter how charming you are as a fund manager, is going to let you blather on to them endlessly at a cocktail party or during a conference break about your overall awesomeness, so now is the perfect time to perfect your pick-up lines. If you haven't given this much thought, or if your existing pitch isn't getting you to second base (actual non-conference contact with an investor), then take a moment to review these Seven Secrets to a Successful Elevator Pitch.
5) While you're doing a little pre-season homework, it's probably a great time to refresh your monthly letter and tear sheet. Do you know how many times I get just a nekkid monthly (or quarterly) performance number plus YTD performance in a bland email? It's not optimal. So review the proper Anatomy of a Tear Sheet as well as these Five Tips For Great Monthly Letters.
6) Conference season is about to go nuts. So in addition to picking up a gallon of hand sanitizer and some Tums (rubber chicken doesn't always digest well - and don't get me started on the vegetarian options at most events - WHAT ARE THOSE THINGS?!), you'll need to have a strategy. What conferences will you attend? How much can you spend? Speaking, sponsoring or showing up? You'll want to strategize to make the most of the time and effort you spend away from the office. To help you, check out these Conference Dos and Don'ts.
7) After you meet a ton of new investor prospects at conferences this fall, wow them with your elevator pitch, performance and pitch book, and send a few outstanding monthly letters, you'll need a plan for how you'll stay in touch with them going forward. I mean, as much as a fund manager would love it if an investor "put out" on the third date, in these due diligence times, that's pretty darn unlikely. So how do keep communicating without driving anyone batcrap crazy? Try these tips for Staying in Contact With Investors.
So good luck students! Emoji MJ and I hope you make the dean's list of capital raising this fall!