Private fund managers’ back offices are under increasing pressure, and chief financial, compliance and operations officers are taking on more and more responsibility with, in many cases, the same resources. Whether it’s cybersecurity, recruitment or regulatory compliance, every minute of the average CFO, CCO and COO’s time is accounted for. Here at pfm we take our hats off to you, the staff working behind the scenes to keep firm operations on track, investors happy and the regulators from the door.
But it is clear that there are some outstanding characters in the business; not only do they work flat out at their day jobs, they spend their spare time on projects, campaigns and causes that are driving the industry forward. Some engage with regulators and policymakers, explaining how the industry operates and how regulations can be modified to apply more effectively to private fund management. Others are pushing for better standards within the industry, drawing up guidelines and advisory documents for use by their peers. And then there are those that are targeting the next generation of talent, lecturing, advising and inspiring college students that may follow in their footsteps.
It is these people that we have included in the pfm powerlist. The 10 people listed were chosen through a combination of our own research, peer nominations and conversations with industry bodies in Europe and the US. They are the people driving change in the industry and those that should be included in every back office’s little black book of contacts because they are the people to know in private fund management.
On the recommendation of the final 10, we have included a separate list of five people who, despite not being employed in the back office of a private fund firm, have worked tirelessly to promote the industry.
We hope you agree that all are worthy of inclusion in the first pfm powerlist.
1. Geoffrey Bailhache
Managing director, legal and compliance
Bailhache is known as an excellent lawyer to his peers. He joined Blackstone in 2010 and has been an active participant in a number of UK and European initiatives. These include being a member of the legal and technical committee of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association. The committee aims to shape policy and its implementation to ensure it meets the needs of the UK private equity community, and to raise the industry’s profile.
He is also heavily involved with Invest Europe, and sits on its Financial Services Working Group, which supported the industry body’s lobbying around the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive and the EuVECA legislation that reduces the regulatory burden for venture capital funds marketing in Europe. He is also on the board of the European Private Equity Roundtable – which helps Invest Europe with its agenda on regulatory matters.
2. Adam Black
Head of ESG
While Coller Capital sees environmental, social and governance issues as very much a front-office issue, Adam Black was nominated for his efforts in driving change in the industry. He is one of the pioneers of the private equity ESG movement, and has spent the past 10 years leading responsible investment activities. He was the inaugural responsible investment executive at Doughty Hanson, where he worked for eight years, and since 2016 has held the same role at Coller Capital. Over that time, ESG has gone from being of little importance to investors to a key requirement of most.
Black works on the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, which aim to understand the implications of sustainability for investors. He is one of the only representatives on the Global Policy Reference Group from a private equity firm, which guides the PRI’s work and helps to implement its programs.
3. Joshua Cherry-Seto
Blue Wolf Capital
Actively involved with multiple mid-market private equity groups and initiatives, Joshua has been engaged as a mid-market GP resource on LP initiatives including the Institutional Limited Partners Association’s development of its fee-reporting template. He has also motivated mid-market CFOs to back UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment,, and has served as a speaker for the project.
He is actively involved with the Association of Corporate Growth’s Private Equity Regulatory Task Force, both on its steering committee and the task force’s committee on fees and expenses, and is a board member for the New York branch, fostering collaboration and engagement of mid-market private equity CFOs. In 2016 he was given the pfm Leadership Award, which recognizes individuals that advance key issues and causes important to the private fund CFO and CCO, for his work in the space.
4. Blinn Cirella
Saw Mill Capital
Another founder member of ACG PERT, Cirella was recently part of a cohort that met with congressional staff to discuss US tax reform, and specifically the impact limiting interest deductibility will have on the industry. Her involvement with the ACG is extensive, and she also sits on the PERT valuations committee, which surveyed the range of valuations practices used by mid-market firms to establish best practice in this area as part of the PERT principles. She also co-chairs the association’s Private Equity CFO Roundtable, which she founded alongside Joshua Cherry-Seto in 2015. The roundtable has quarterly dinner programs and national breakfast calls, providing opportunities to discuss issues facing mid-market private equity CFOs.
Her work for the ACG was recognized in 2016 when she received its Meritorious Service Award, the ACG’s highest honor for volunteer service.
5. April Evans
Monitor Clipper Partners
CFO and CCO
Evans is a founder member of the ACG PERT, which drew up the Private Equity Regulatory and Compliance Principles and frequently lobbies Washington for the private equity cause. She is also a director of the Financial Executives Alliance, a thought leadership, education and networking organization with chapters across the US and the Women’s Association of Venture and Equity, an organization dedicated to the development and advancement of women.
Evans has worked with the Kauffman Fellows Program of the Center for Venture Education, a two-year program of education and mentoring, and an assistant professor of the Simmons College Graduate School of Management, a women’s college. She is part of the advisory committee for the Center for Women and Enterprise Venture Center, a non-profit for people starting and growing their businesses. She also mentors and advises new entrepreneurs.
6. Felix Haldner
Partner, client solutions
Haldner is involved with a number of industry body initiatives, and chairs the Invest Europe Investor Regulation Working Group. Most recently, the group produced a template to help private equity fund managers to report data to insurance investors which is required under Solvency II. He also sits on the Invest Europe Tax, Legal and Regulatory Committee. In 2014 he was appointed to the board of the Swiss Funds and Asset Management Association, having served on the board for two years.
Felix was an advocate of the European Long Term Investment Fund framework, which was introduced by the European Commission to enable private individuals to access alternative asset classes. Invest Europe engaged in lobbying for a more workable ELTIF framework. Haldner then suggested Partners Group could use and test the new framework, and its experience is being fed back to the industry body.
7. Pam Hendrickson
The Riverside Company
A long-standing cheerleader for her industry, Pamela has been an active advocate for private equity through Congressional testimony, speaking about the potential impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on job creation in the US before it became law, and writing op-eds about the benefits of carried interest being taxed as capital gains. She is heavily involved with trade bodies, and is a past chairman of the Board of the Association for Corporate Growth, and was on the board of directors of the Private Equity Growth Capital council’s growth committee (now the American Investment Council) and was a founder member of ACG PERT.
Pamela also sits on the advisory board for the Keenan Institute for Ethics, providing advice, assistance and leadership to the Duke University-based institute engaged in debate and analysis of a range of global ethical issues such as human rights and regulation.
8. Dörte Höppner
The Riverside Company
COO, Riverside Europe Fund
Described as the driving force behind its successful initiatives, Höppner was chief executive of Invest Europe for five years, where she spearheaded, among others, the creation of the Professional Standards Handbook, which outlines the principles of ethical behaviors and trust governing the GP-LP relationship that must be adhered to by all Invest Europe members; and the Investor Reporting Guidelines, which are used to facilitate negotiations between the two sides and provide core reporting elements. She is also a former managing director of the German Private Equity Association.
In addition to her role at Riverside, which she took up last year, Höppner now leads the German chapter of Level 20, a European group which aims to increase the proportion of females in senior private equity roles to 20 percent by 2020. She has won a string of awards, including Private Equity Exchange’s PE personality of the year.
9. Denise Marks
SV Life Sciences
Having received a number of endorsements, Denise Marks is included thanks to her work in the venture capital space. She was appointed to the board of directors of the National Venture Capital Association in May 2017. The association advises industry and policymakers and most recently advocated changes to US tax reform proposals that would have hit start-ups. Denise also serves on the NVCA CFO task force, which convenes once a month to discuss and identify accounting, audit and reporting issues that matter to the industry. She has been instrumental in advising on technical accounting matters and other issues.
Marks is also on the steering committee of Women In Alternative Assets, a non-profit that offers networking opportunities for, and promotes the advancement of, senior executive women in alternative asset classes. She is also on the board of Dress for Success Boston, which provides professional attire for women from impoverished backgrounds attending job interviews.
10. Jonathan Schwartz
New Spring Capital
President, CCO and COO
Schwartz was promoted from CFO to a newly created president, CCO and COO role in 2017 and now wears three hats at New Spring Capital. He sits on the board of directors of the Private Equity CFO Association’s Philadelphia chapter. Schwartz recently led a panel discussion on behalf of the group on the topic of succession planning and how to prepare for a change of leadership. He was previously chairman.
Jonathan has been a member of the ACG PERT, helping to shape compliance best practice and educate professionals and key stakeholders on the regulatory issues that have a direct impact on private funds. Along with three others he was recently added to the taskforce’s steering committee, taking on greater responsibility for its work, lobbying efforts and industry outreach.
11. The cheerleaders
Gluck provides guidance to the ACG PERT on matters such as private funds regulation and tax, and he recently published a comprehensive compliance manual for the private equity industry. He has frequent meetings and conversations with the SEC and Congress, championing the private equity cause and promoting ACG PERT initiatives.
Martin tirelessly supports the industry by working pro bono for the Professional Standards Committee at Invest Europe, which develops and maintains strong guidelines and working practices for the industry. He is also the chairman of its Working Group on Accounting Standards, Valuation and Reporting, which covers member requests about these topics.
Director, fund investor relations
Harding is a member of the Professional Standards Committee of Invest Europe, and is vice-chairman of the Invest Europe Working Group on Accounting Standards, Valuation and Reporting, which played a key role in the update of Invest Europe’s Reporting Guidelines in 2015. He is The organization’s representative on the International Private Equity & Venture Capital Valuations Guidelines Board.
Debevoise & Plimpton
Witney is a prominent member of the UK and European private equity communities, and has served in senior positions within the BVCA and Invest Europe. He is currently a member of the BVCA Council, which is responsible for its strategic direction and oversight. In 2017 he completed a PhD on corporate governance issues in private equity backed companies at the London School of Economics.
Assistant director general and director of policy
Manku is responsible for leading the BVCA’s response to a wide range of issues and challenges facing the industry from a legal and regulatory perspective. She is also the executive liaison to the Private Equity Reporting Group, the body responsible for monitoring the industry’s compliance with the Walker guidelines.