The signing of the JOBS Act in the US last year – expected to be fully enacted in 2013 – presents hedge fund managers with the opportunity to overtly develop their brand image and move past what has historically been an opaque image. That’s the view of Thomas Walek (pictured), Founder of Walek & Associates, winner in the Best North American PR Firm category.
From defining market position to managing media visibility, taking charge in crisis situations, supporting portfolio holdings, improving investor outreach, safekeeping reputations, and handling the needs of highly successful hedge fund executives, Walek & Associates has pioneered the design and execution of public relations campaigns to support hedge funds.
The firm’s “global boutique” business model combines the professionalism and results-driven approach of larger firms with a singular focus on service and domain expertise that only smaller firms can provide.
Last year, it launched Walek Brand Asset which is, says Walek, part of virtually every client and prospect strategy. “We have been advocating for and providing a brand-focused approach to marketing and communications among hedge fund managers for more than a decade. While performance, non-correlation, diversification, risk management and capital preservation are, and must remain, cornerstones of the industry, selling performance is not a viable long-term business strategy for hedge fund managers. Walek Brand Asset is the first of its kind in the industry and formalises our approach and our service offering.”
Walek says that the firm is having more and more conversations about branding, marketing and communications with firms in both the alternative and traditional asset management sectors: “We are witnessing product developments related to the new freedoms that the JOBS Act will allow, and we are seeing and managing communications around mergers and acquisitions throughout the asset management sector that are driven by the changing marketing environment for hedge funds, of which the JOBS Act is one element. This new marketing focus will only become more important as traditional managers move into the alternative space and bring with them expertise in every aspect of branding, marketing and communications.
One of the key features that differentiates Walek & Associates from its competitors is a focus on publishing proprietary research and analysis under the “Alternative Views” brand (www.walek.com ).
Its most recent white paper entitled Risk off: What Hedge Funds Need To Do About The JOBS Act, highlights three areas for hedge fund managers to focus on: understand the JOBS Act and what it allows; acknowledge that regardless of whether or not a firm responds to the JOBS Act, the industry itself will change in the months and years ahead, and for firms to begin discussions and determine the best course of action in anticipation of these changes.
Although hedge fund industry AUM is setting records again, the vast majority of inflows continue to go to relatively few managers. In this environment, says Walek, “hedge fund management firms are paying much more attention to brand and effective communications and must do so in order to stand out and differentiate themselves.
“In 2013 we will focus on helping cross-over clients from both the traditional and alternative asset management side prepare for and execute strategic, brand- and business-building marketing communications programs. The JOBS Act will open many doors for hedge fund managers. We will remain at the forefront of these developments.”
On winning the award Walek adds: “It’s an honor to receive the hedgeweek Best North American PR Firm Award, the only peer nominated award in the industry. We will continue to work hard to earn this very high distinction.”