Investment Management: Growth Strategies for Your Firm
Whether you recently started your investment management firm, or your firm isn’t growing at the rate you anticipated, it makes sense to take a step back to assess your organization. What should you be doing to improve your ability to attract assets? Are you structured for long-term success?
Performance alone is not enough to attract institutional-quality investors. Of course, if you have great numbers, you will attract new assets. Investors chase returns and will want a piece of the action. However, there will inevitably be down markets, unexpected market crises, and out-of-favor styles. If you want investors that stay with you through these periods – and even hire you - your firm needs to demonstrate qualities that are the foundation of sustainability, growth, and longevity.
In order to grow strategically, you need to satisfy institutional standards for best practices. How do you deploy limited resources to efficiently meet these standards and attract clients and assets? Here are several suggestions for structural best practices.
Get your internal messaging right.
Can every person in your firm articulate what you do and what makes you good at it? Every phone call, e-mail, and inbound request needs to demonstrate your commitment to investors. Take the approach in which everyone speaks for the firm, and everyone must know how important it is to represent the firm properly.
Be consistent and thorough in communications.
All materials need to clearly articulate your team, product, process, risk, and business structure. This is what investors care about. Your DDQ’s, RFP’s, pitch books, marketing materials, and website all need to be painfully clear and consistent. Competing for business can drain resources. Establish your message and carry it through across channels, and this process will become part of your culture. It gets easier.
Get comfortable with transparency – it's critical to winning new business.
Transparency has increasingly become a requirement in business. Everyone is a fiduciary (really!) and needs to satisfy those standards. Investors will want to evaluate your team, product, process, risk controls, and business structure in great detail, and you will need to be responsive. If you’re concerned about revealing sensitive competitive information, have an NDA ready for serious prospects to sign. You and your clients will be working together for a long time. You want it to be a trusting relationship. Demonstrate your willingness early on to comply. It may be the only way to win new and repeat business.
Sustain relationships with exemplary client service.
Make client service part of your firm’s culture. Every interaction with a prospect or client is not only an opportunity, but a reflection of the quality of your firm. Your firm’s preparedness and your ability to reach out to investors through market cycles and events will make a difference as to whether they hire you, give you more money, or fire you as soon as they can. Build a reputation as being able to communicate effectively and in a timely manner. Provide meaningful insights - not someone else’s content, which says nothing about you. Show your prospects and clients that you are smart and prepared to speak about issues that are important to them.
It is difficult to take the time to determine what issues may be keeping you from growing. It is also challenging to implement change, particularly with limited and competing resources. But these elements and other critical organizational structures are essential to attracting clients and to growth. Setting your sights on institutional standards may help you to prioritize strategies with the greatest impact to growth.
[Related: The Old Way of Investing vs. The New Way]
Leslie Billet was an institutional investment consultant for 20 years before founding L.E.BilletAssociates, LLC (LEBA). LEBA consults to small and emerging firms, including women and minorities, about strategies for growing their firms. For more information please go to http://lebilletassociates.com.
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I have spent 20 years consulting to institutional plan sponsors of defined benefit and defined contribution plans, and to non-profit plans before starting L.E.BilletAssociates, LLC (lebilletassociates.com). I continue to do so, and more recently, I have also been consulting to small, emerging and women-owned investment advisory firms, as well as small investment consulting firms regarding business strategy and growth. I have always worked as a fiduciary; I am fee only, independent of any provider,... Continue Reading
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