The evolution of business development and investor relations in the institutional investment community has hit the accelerator. As an asset manager, you need to align yourself with this “new normal” and take action to up your game so that you can get – and keep – your investors.
At Backstop, we interviewed three managers in a panel discussion to gain their perspective on the changes that have been taking place in the industry and to learn how they are thriving in our post-pandemic world. Here are seven business development and investor servicing insights shared by Kelly Kruse, Managing Director at Crestline Investors, Inc.; Sean Macdonald, Partner and COO at Cheyne Capital; and Lianna Gao, Deputy COO of Business Development at Magnetar Capital.
1. Reinforce Trust with Your Investors: Communicate Early & Often
Kelly emphasized the need to keep the trust level high between her organization and their investors. “We have a real partnership with our clients,” she affirmed. “We communicate with them frequently and provide full transparency for our valuations. We are completely open with where our portfolio is and what we think is going to happen.”
Providing investors with the information they need is a standard part of investor relations, but the turbulence over the past twelve months has heightened the need to communicate early and often. Sean noted, “We have always sent out monthly newsletters to our investors along with commentary at the end of the year, but now we are pushing out commentary around the portfolio and how it is progressing every couple of months. This helps our investors feel connected and confident despite market volatility.”
2. Foster Collaboration within Your Team
Excel spreadsheets tend to create data silos, which can be problematic when multiple team members need to be kept in the loop for business development or investor servicing purposes. Backstop’s Pipeline Manager gets teams out of Excel and provides a single source of truth that all team members can work from. Lianna affirmed, “We have a lot of accounts that are co-covered by workers who are geographically distant from one another. Pipeline Manager allows any team member to go in and see the activity that is happening elsewhere. It ensures that everyone is synced up on narratives and that investor relations can be handled as efficiently as possible.”
3. Leverage Insights from Your Data
Cheyne Capital is fully leveraging Backstop’s Pipeline Manager and Capital-Raising Dashboards to maximize their business development efforts. Sean confirmed, “Pipeline Manager allows you to do so much more to drive the business. We look at things from a firm level and as individual business units. Then, we can peel another layer back to see which salespeople, regions, and investor types are doing well and assess where we want to do more or less business development. Being able to see performance data the way we want to 'in the moment' is crucial, but to also have efficient, intuitive dashboards that can present high-level information and more in-depth data as required helps us make better decisions."
4. Pay Close Attention to Your Content
Lianna stated that her organization is putting a lot of thought into the type of content they are producing. She explained, “We've revamped a lot of our marketing materials to streamline and consolidate content, add better data visualizations, and be more efficient with synthesizing and presenting key pieces of information.” They also carefully consider the delivery mechanism of that content, avoiding general email blasts in favor of a much more targeted outreach approach.
5. Monitor the Activity of Your Team
Given the pressures that come with a remote working environment, it is all the more important to keep a close watch on the activity of your business development team. At Crestline, all team activity is entered into Backstop’s Pipeline Manager. Kelly explained, “We use Backstop’s activity tags so that we can report on which strategies are having the most activity and why. For example, does traction in a given area correlate to an individual sales representative, a certain investor type, a particular strategy, or a general trend in the industry?”
The panel also advised, “Don’t forget about emails as a form of activity.” In a post-pandemic world, it’s not just about in-person meetings and phone calls anymore. Magnetar had always tracked calls and meetings, but when the pandemic dramatically increased activity happening over email, they knew they had to track that as well. Lianna stated, “Backstop’s automatic email tracking functionality has been central to our efforts in this area. Going forward, we will be able to run activity reports and touchpoints on all the emails that our team has sent out in addition to looking at their calls and meetings.”
6. Keep Macro and Micro Views in Your Sight
Having data centralized in one location on the Backstop platform enables it to be viewed from many different levels. Kelly noted, “Backstop brings all our data together across our different strategies and enables us to filter it in multiple ways. Our teams can go in to see the details they need in Pipeline Manager, while leaders can use the Capital-Raising Dashboards to get the big-picture view. Having the ability to slice and dice across all the fields is really important.”
7. Plan for More Requests from Your Investors
In the current unsettling environment, managers are seeing an increased number of bespoke reporting requests. Since there is an operational cost for fielding these requests, it is important to establish a good process to handle them. Lianna notes, “All bespoke requests are saved in a central location and we dedicate time to reviewing those requests at our bi-weekly team meetings. That way, everyone can hear what others on the team have put together so that nobody has to start from scratch when responding to investor requests.”
The institutional investment industry may never return to its pre-pandemic form. But these seven tips can help you up your business development and investor relations game so that this “permanent normal” becomes the foundation for building a bolder, better, brighter future together.