PEI IR Forum: fake it ‘til you make it

IR professionals should be like ‘campaign managers’ on the fundraising trail, constantly adapting their strategy until success is achieved, delegates heard at the PEI Investor Relations Forum in New York.

“You need to fake it ‘til you make it. Be a Karl Rove or James Carville out there. Manage the fundraising process like a political campaign; experiment with your messaging until you reach a final close.”

That was the advice of one IR professional on day one of the PEI Investor Relations Forum in New York this week. The IR expert said successful campaign managers are “hailed as geniuses” whereas those that fail “are assumed to have no idea what they were doing.”

“No one remembers who William Daley is,” he said, referencing the political campaign manager for Al Gore’s failed White House run in 2000.

At the forum, IR professionals expressed a need to constantly tweak their fundraising pitches and rethink their conclusions on what individual LPs want when a fund is struggling.

“Never go to your deal partners and say ‘I think we’re screwed’; you need constant evolution,” one speaker at the forum shared. “It’s less about intelligence and more about information gathering. I would rather have a few deep relationships with LPs who I can trust to tell me things than a broad shallow network.”

The speaker also described IR as a hybrid position between associate and partner, which results in IR professionals experiencing a compensation trajectory out of step with deal partners.

“Keep your compensation expectations realistic,” he said. “As an associate in IR, you’re paid very well initially because it’s client facing. But as you go all the way up to partner, and have more responsibility to manage the firm’s messaging and branding, you’re still responsible for associate work like PPMs and diligence preparation.”