There are five ways to improve the impact of your hedge fund pitch book with institutional allocators, according to JD David (pictured), partner and chief operating officer at Meyler Capital.
David says: “We produce a fair amount of marketing collateral… and in the process have exposure to a lot of manager material. While one can argue whether or not a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ approach exists to building a marketing deck, there is a compelling case to be made that there is definitely a ‘better’ and ‘worse’.
“In conversations with allocators, the deck’s primary purpose is to address some very straight forward questions.
“Unfortunately, many managers we interact with end up treating the deck like a DDQ and pack it full of information. As if somehow, adding more words makes it more ‘institutional’.
“Since most managers already have a deck, the suggestions below can be implemented even after your material has already been written, so a re-start isn’t necessary. This is about making your existing information more effective.”
1. Eliminate the extraneous – The marketing deck is just one step in a long communication process. From a marketing perspective, the deck isn’t designed to “sell” your fund, it’s designed to help advance the dialogue. And while you may spend a few dozen hours crafting your deck, seasoned institutional allocators rarely spend more than few minutes ripping through it the first time they see it. Attempting to provide answers to every possible combination or permutation of questions a potential allocator may have really is futile.
“The biggest mistake we see is overwhelming a deck with too much information – particularly ‘me, too’ information. And…particularly in the first few pages.
“Most readers are only capable of remembering a few key points. So, making sure those points stand out is the priority. I’m not suggesting that your deck shouldn’t be comprehensive – but selectivity matters.
“And don’t fret – if an investor is really interested, she will eventually verify that you check the ‘me, too’ boxes, as well,” says David.
2. Speak English – Industry vernacular can be necessary in order to effectively communicate certain points of your message, but syllable counts shouldn’t get confused with sophistication.
“If you are unsure about the density of your material or the complexity of your diagrams, have it ‘sniff-tested’… ask your spouse to review it. If you are not married, ask a friend.
“I know, I know… this is technical stuff and they don’t have the chops. But give them some credit – they are smart people… and you aren’t asking them to perform genome sequencing or anything. It’s not even a legal document.
“The objective is not for them to determine whether you deserve an allocation but rather to gauge the ‘readability’ of the material – whether it is possible to digest the material easily and quickly,” says David.
As an exercise allow them no more than 30 seconds per slide. Then select the five most complicated slides or graphs and ask them to explain “the point” of each.
Some complex material will need to stay but you will know find out pretty quickly what material can also go, he says.
3. Make a statement – This is actually the easiest hack of all, but sadly, the hardest to convince people to incorporate into a deck, says David.
If you want to get a point across – pick a few slides and try to say less, not more. So-called “hero” slides are slides entirely dedicated to a single sentence or two written in powerful, emotional language.
4. Look the part – “One of our favourite quotes is from oil well firefighter, Red Adair (it’s so good that we have used it before): ‘If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur’.
“Really – invest a little money so that your material doesn’t look like it was created by a teenager. Or worse… a portfolio manager,” David says.
5. Practice – There is not a professional presenter in the world that gets up in front of an audience without a boatload of practice.
“It is fairly obvious when someone is winging it (or just simply disorganised).
“You have a big story to tell and limited time to tell it. You know in advance exactly when that discussion is going to take place. No reason to improvise and no reason to go in unprepared,” David adds.