By Chris Nutt, founding partner of Investor Communications
Sometimes it can be difficult to express your thoughts clearly in writing, particularly if you are pressed for time. Yet precise written communications are essential for all hedge fund managers seeking to build a professional reputation and raise capital.
When your presentations, factsheets, performance updates and research notes are easy to understand you can really start to differentiate your investment expertise in today’s crowded market. Here are seven ways to help you present your fund clearly and precisely through your marketing materials.
(1) Describe your fund in straightforward ways
If a potential investor does not understand your investment strategy and process they are not going to buy it. Even very complex “black box” style hedge fund strategies can be explained simply and directly. Set out what you are doing through your marketing materials in a straightforward way. Communicate without jargon and explain the key areas in layman terms to broaden your appeal to a wide range of investors.
(2) Start your pitchbook presentation with a strong executive summary
This is the first page people are going to read so make sure it grabs their attention. Focus on what makes your investment strategy different through your core sales messages. Make sure you cover all of the key issues today’s investors look for including correlation, liquidity and your team’s expertise as well as the investment opportunity you have identified. Introduce each section in a way that draws people into the rest of your presentation.
(3) Define your investment edge
Be proud of what makes your fund different and make sure you get that across in your marketing materials. What is your particular investment strategy and how do you express your investment views. Are you using proprietary trading technology? Do you have good access to products and information? What is your specialist market experience and knowledge. Give investors clear reasons for why your fund represents a good investment opportunity. They like to understand why you think your strategy is going to do well as well as what makes you different from the herd.
(4) Consider the needs of your target investors
Cover all the key areas of information for your target investors and make sure you address all their needs and concerns. Describe the framework you have in place for managing investment risks. How long will investors have to wait when they ask for their money back? Do any of the partners have their own capital invested in the strategy? Are the returns truly uncorrelated to traditional asset classes? How can you show you have a robust business infrastructure? Address all operational sources of risk including back-office functions and the quality of service providers, such as prime brokers.
(5) Use case studies
Describe past trades to bring your investment process to life and help investors understand the overall strategy. Show examples of ideas that worked as well as those that were not successful and explain why. You can use these case studies to demonstrate that your investment process is robust and repeatable. They can also show that you understand what is driving the fund’s performance and how changing market conditions can affect returns.
(6) Write focused biographies for key investment people
Information about your investment team is important to potential investors. Show how their experience and expertise is relevant to the particular strategy of your fund rather than simply listing past positions. Has the team worked together before and for how long? How do their skills complement each others. What is the size of your team including all support staff?
(7) Write relevant investment updates
Monthly investment updates are useful sales tool, providing a good opportunity to demonstrate your investment expertise. Explain what themes are driving the regions and markets in which you are investing and how you believe these trends are likely to develop. For more complex strategies, appearing logical, coherent and transparent can be more difficult. The challenge is to explain your investment views clearly and then explain how you are taking advantage of the opportunities available in the markets.
Providing investors with clear and concise information and communicating regularly are the prerequisites of a professional relationship. By creating a suite of marketing materials with focused content you will be able to deliver a consistent message about your investment expertise. The results will be communications success as your maintain an intelligent conversation with investors.
The author is a partner of Investor Communications, a creative agency that specialises in writing and designing marketing materials for hedge funds and wealth managers, and using them to build strong brands. Chris has worked in financial publishing as a writing and editor, and as a marketing communications specialist in investment banking and private wealth management.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.investorcoms.com
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Excellent and clear advice, but the guidance on team biographies could result in a patronising tone. HF investors are sufficiently professional and knowledgeable to parse biographies for themselves, thereby eliciting their relevance to the strategy, as well as measuring the experience and cohesion of the team. These outcomes are best facilitated by setting biographical details out to a strict template, stating full name (not, e.g., “Bill Smith”, but “William A. Smith”), nationality, month/year of birth, and all past positions – with dates, employer names, locations, and responsibilities (including strategies and size of assets in those responsibilities). Finally, a list of educational/ professional qualifications and of significant publications. Any gloss regarding the significance of these facts will likely be seen as spin and could even alienate an investor. As Sgt. Joe Friday didn’t actually say in the classic ‘Dragnet’ TV series: “The facts, ma’am, just the facts”.