Ex-Houlihan exec launches placement firm

Francie Heller has formed Heller Advisory to raise capital for private equity, real estate, hedge funds and other asset classes.

A long-time consultant to institutional investors has formed her own placement agency, Heller Advisory. The firm will help raise capital for alternative investment managers, including private equity.

Prior to founding Heller, Francie Heller worked at Houlihan Lokey as a managing director of the pension, endowment and foundation advisory group. She worked with institutional investors on things like secondary sales and evaluations of co-investment opportunities. 

Prior, Heller was managing director of client relations and head of pension solutions at Chilton Investment Company, and before that, she was senior managing director and global head of the pension, endowment and foundation services group at Bear Stearns.

Heller Financial has already secured four mandates, including an unnamed private equity fund that will take minority stakes in management companies of hedge funds, according to Francie Heller, founding partner of Heller Advisory. 

“Institutional investors of large pension plans are very active in the market. A lot of them are kind of reallocating what they’re doing, looking very carefully and strategically at what they have, and they’re open to innovative alpha producing private equity funds,” Heller told Private Equity International in an interview Wednesday.

Institutional investors of large pension plans are very active in the market.

While fundraising can be challenging, firms need to find ways to set themselves apart from the competition, and one way can be to demonstrate an expertise at operational improvements.

“I have seen where the founding partners [of new firms] have run private equity before, but they’re bringing in people who might have strong legal backgrounds or who have run businesses before,” Heller said.

Heller is working with Molly Peters Mahoney, senior vice president at the firm. She previously worked as an associate at Houlihan Lokey, where she oversaw key pension relationships and assisted in the delivery of co-investment, secondary market and advisory services.