Dear MCG… Respect my authority
I am the individual responsible for IR at our firm and have been driving the agenda for a few years, now. The firm is beginning to appreciate the value that a professional Investor Relations function can have and I have been able to secure improved access to live portfolio data for my team. However, whilst I have managed to gain observer status at our IC (investment committee) meetings, I still don’t feel that my team and I have sufficient access to the pipeline and we are unable to exert much influence on investment decisions from a IR perspective – beyond perfunctory ESG box-ticking. How can I get the deal teams to take IR more seriously?
This is an excellent question: It sounds like you have made good inroads, but still have some way to go. I assume from the way you describe your role in the firm that you are not a partner of the firm.
Presumably you were hired when the partners decided, sensibly, to add a professional, dedicated resource to the IR function and to focus, themselves, on deals, portfolio and leadership of the firm.
Firstly, I would advise you to link your next fundraising to a change in status for you in the firm. Propose specific targets that are achievable but would represent a clear step forwards for the firm – if you want to become a partner you will need to prove your worth. Perhaps you can target a larger or faster fundraise, or a higher percentage of incumbents re-upping – you will know best which is seen as most important to the firm as a whole. Of course, if you fail to meet the targets you set, you must be prepared to suffer the consequences….but you didn’t get into this game to avoid taking risks, did you? Once you are a partner, you will find that there are only very few requests that your peers will not agree to.
Of course, you could look to improve the perception of IR, internally, through other means. Rather than hoping to influence specific deals, at first, why not draft some papers, illustrating investor appetite for certain strategies and summarising investor feedback on previous deals. Share these general notes to the deal teams to show how working with you can make their lives easier. And make their lives easier in other ways: proactively adapt reports to individuals’ requirements to show your willingness to provide a better service and follow-up to make sure that reports are being read.
There’s no magic formula for changing opinions, but hard work and great results are a good start!
MCG (Matthew Craig-Greene) is Managing Director | IR& Marketing for MJ Hudson, the asset management consultancy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org