TECHWORK 23: Griff Norville, Hamilton Lane
Norville has a background in consulting and began his career as a management consultant at Pace Harmon, providing M&A and transaction support to different clients across finance. He then worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s global strategic capital group, before moving to Hamilton Lane as a senior member of the firm’s research team, responsible for leveraging data to assess market trends and advise clients on investment and portfolio construction strategy.
Describing his own career journey, Norville shares how data found him, rather than the other way around: “The story of my career really started in consulting, where I was consistently trying to be a deal guy, an investment person. Then, someone figured out I was good with data and analytics, and I was given problems to solve with large-scale data. Over time, I learnt to embrace that. In consulting, I spent a lot of time managing large projects, helping two different companies come together, analysing distribution flows around the world, understanding manufacturing around the world with data and solving problems that way. Getting exposure to private markets through deals really lit a fire under me to change careers and get into alternative investing.”
Currently, Norville is a managing director and head of technology solutions, which includes Hamilton Lane’s client-facing Cobalt LP platform as well as related reporting and analytics services. He leads balance sheet investments into emerging technology companies for Hamilton Lane’s HL Innovations strategy, and he sits on Hamilton Lane’s technology committee, alongside other firm leaders.
Norville has developed a deep knowledge of the data fabric within Hamilton Lane. The majority of his time is spent running Cobalt LP within Hamilton Lane. In addition, he networks with entrepreneurs, running pilot programmes with them, eventually making investments to take the company to the next level.
Cobalt LP holds about 60% of all private market capital ever raised in its database, going back 51 years. The broad exposure to data can aggregate the relevant information and, together with Hamilton Lane’s data science team, the data is brought together to drive insight and decision-making. Norville adds: “Cobalt LP is a digital database and an investment selection tool, a way to compare managers against one another and plan portfolios for the future.”
He is proud of his achievements with Cobalt LP, commenting: “We now have hundreds of clients on the software and it's being offered as an independent product. We typically integrate the technology with our investment management services, investors in our products, and groups that work with us for separately managed accounts – it has become a huge differentiator for Hamilton Lane in terms of how we access the market and how we look different from other asset managers in this space. I've been really proud of how that's come together.”
Norville also sits on the technology committee at Hamilton Lane, a senior leadership committee focused predominantly on enterprise solutions deployed in-house.
There are two main focus points for the year ahead, according to Norville: he would like to focus internally on the digitalisation and scaling of Hamilton Lane’s traditional advisory services using Cobalt Expert, launched last year, and externally on continuing developing partnerships with budding technology companies. He adds: “The new wave of companies is working more on using machine learning and generative AI. We're definitely looking towards the future and where this market is going, and we’re seeing wealth management come into this asset class. We want to be on the cutting edge so that we can be part of the disruptive force of this industry.”