HedgePo: One year in and nearly 1,000 funds as investors and managers find a new way to build relations
With capital raising becoming even more of a Sisyphus-like exercise for hedge funds, any form of solution that can help make the process a little easier is welcome. Equally, investors are looking for more effective ways to screen, assess and ultimately reach out to managers in an increasingly cluttered market.
It was against this backdrop that HedgePo (short for hedge fund portal) was launched in April 2013 by Ryan Kalish (formerly of Stenham Asset Management) and David Tawil (formerly of Credit Suisse).
“HedgePo is essentially a tool that I felt was missing that I needed to do my job effectively as an allocator to hedge funds,” says Kalish. “The idea we had [with HedgePo] was to create a research portal where institutional investors and family offices could log in and access information being pushed directly from global hedge fund managers.”
In simple terms, HedgePo acts as a central repository for fund allocators and helps them avoid having to cold call managers to try and set up investment meetings. Within HedgePo the user can create various filters to help screen the right kind of managers they are interested in. For example, they may only wish to look for healthcare-focused fund strategies running north of USD100m.
They can see who the key people are in a particular hedge fund, read their biographies, and if the manager fits the bill the investor can reach out to them directly through the platform.
Equally, the manager will see the profile of each investor and have full control over whether or not to engage further with them. This gives managers the requisite privacy and allows them to screen investors just as investors can screen managers.
All HedgePo does is sit in the middle. It has no agenda with the managers and provides no advisory services whatsoever; it is, in effect, an impartial dis-intermediary.
“We now have around 1000 hedge funds on the platform. Every day they log in to provide commentary on the markets, fact sheets, presentations, fund performance updates and they develop a dialogue with investors directly through the platform,” confirms Kalish, who continues:
“It’s up to the investor as to how they wish to slice and dice the manager universe. The beauty is once they’ve created ‘peer groups’ of managers, every week they can set it so that they receive regular updates from those managers who fit their criteria. They might have a peer group of macro managers, for example, and every week receive an email update on their respective fund performance.”
HedgePo, who uses London and New York-based Peregrine Communications as their strategic marketing communications partner, has enjoyed fairly rapid growth on the platform over the last few months, part of which appears to be driven by US managers keen to get around the complexities of marketing their funds under the AIFMD in Europe.
“It offers a neat solution to share information with investors yet remain compliant with the regulation. We have a reverse solicitation agreement in place that investors have to explicitly sign when they use the platform,” says Kalish.
As for the rate of investor onboarding, Kalish confirms that there are now around 500 investors on HedgePo, all of whom are either institutional investors or family offices.
“The investor mix is globally diversified; around 35 per cent are North American, 40 per cent are European and the remaining 25 per cent are Asian and Middle Eastern investors. We’ve doubled both the number of investors and the number of funds on HedgePo in the last few months. We only opened the platform on 20 April 2013. It’s still pretty new but it feels like we’re now picking up some real momentum.”
In many ways HedgePo reflects the changing ways in which industry participants now work and communicate. People increasingly use networks in their daily lives, both personally (e.g. Facebook) and professionally (e.g. LinkedIn). In Kalish’s view, the hedge fund industry was lagging in this respect. Go to any hedge fund website today and the chances are it will provide minimal details as managers worry about falling foul of regulation.
“Technology can now empower fund managers to manage privacy. Funds can come to HedgePo and upload sensitive information knowing that it won’t be made public. They are becoming more comfortable sharing information in a controlled private environment.
“It’s early days but we are seeing meaningful relationships begin to build on the platform,” concludes Kalish.
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