Hedge Fund Pitches and Presentation Best Practices

December 15th, 2009
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Contributed by: Quoin Partners
Marketing really has two primary components – building a brand identity and presenting that identity to the world in order to solicit interest in whatever it is your company is trying to sell. I think many managers in the hedge fund space associate the term marketing with sourcing and securing capital which is right, I guess, at a very high level. I choose to look at marketing as “fishing” or generating the interest of prospects...personally, I see the actual investor presentation as what ultimately will determine whether or not a fund is on the successful road to raising assets. Getting the meeting is the easy part, it’s bringing it home that really separates distinguishes the successful fundraiser.

In working and networking with emerging hedge funds across all strategies and in most areas of the world, we have found that the fine art of presentation is lost on many of the professionals we come across. Startup hedge fund presentations are often centered around highly technical investment strategy explanations, market geek talk, and general haze of assumption that everyone in the room knows exactly what the speaker is talking about…more often than not, my neck is sore from nodding in feigned agreement and I leave doubting that I said much more than: “Yes, I know what you mean, Exactly, Definitely, or I agree.” Both the presenter and audience are left deeply unsatisfied, the former because he/she continues forth in life in ignorance regarding their lack of presentation skills and the latter because he does not have an earthly idea of what he just spent an hour of his time doing. I believe that in order to consistently create and delivery world-class presentations it is important to study best practices in the business world and creatively merge them with tactics specific to the hedge fund industry. My goal in this article is not to tell you what to say, but rather how to say it in an effective manner. Presentation is an exquisite art form, defined by a unique combination of three primary elements: aesthetic, content, and delivery.

I encourage every startup hedge fund manager that I come across to become a dedicated student of business best practice…as an entrepreneur you should voraciously consume this type of information because you, by the very nature of being a business owner, must be adept in all aspects of running a company….from the high level philosophy of management down to the nuts and bolts of implementing payroll and benefits. You are failing yourself and your fledgling company if you are not. Throughout the course of my career I have found financial services firms to be the most deficient in terms of general business best practice…I do not know if this is because of the Darwinian eat what you kill nature of the trading floor, arrogance, or culture that simply has never grasped what it takes to run a business. Many of the presentations I see in this industry are arduously busy with content, overly assumptive of the audience’s knowledge base, and poorly constructed in appearance, content, and progression. In all honesty, after reading or sitting through these presentations, I’m physically exhausted…exhausted because I spend most of my time flipping back and forth through the pages trying to perform multiple calculations in order to reconcile the financial data while at the same time being forced to come to my own conclusions. It’s hard work and anytime an audience is forced to do hard work, you will miss the mark and lose them…in some cases permanently. How do you ensure that you do not fall into this trap and have productive investor meetings? I suggest that you start with the ‘three-legged stool’ of aesthetic, content, and delivery.

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