What Do We Look For?
In our view, many placement agents are overly prescriptive in what they look for in an asset manager they would wish to represent. They focus on brand recognition or on metrics like scale of AUM, length of track record or the number of prior funds. Perhaps they feel this gives them the pick of the most saleable strategies. Or perhaps they aren’t confident in their ability to rise to the challenge of a difficult capital raise.
We take a different view. We think institutional investors are constantly looking for innovation and differentiation: new ideas and new sources of return in capacity-constrained global markets where competitive advantages are hard to come by. We believe the bar of institutional credibility is not set based on simple metrics, and consequently we are happy to hear from any organisation that thinks they have a proposition with institutional appeal.
While our primary focus is on private market and real assets strategies, we will happily consider differentiated offerings in public equity and fixed income.
Further, we recognise that sophisticated asset owners don’t just seek products. Many are also interested in finding appropriate stand-alone deals, so we welcome approaches where capital is sought for individual deals, co-investments or joint ventures, or where a manager has interesting origination capabilities.
We avoid being prescriptive when assessing potential asset manager clients for two reasons:
- We actively seek diversity in the firms and strategies we represent. We don’t claim to have a monopoly on good ideas, and we (and the asset owners we sell to) want to hear them.
- If we screen out clients that for example don’t have a track record, have very little AUM, operate in areas that aren’t currently fashionable or don’t have appropriate vehicles, we may miss exciting opportunities where our expertise could make a difference.
We are equally happy representing emerging or established managers. We can work on individual products or a suite. We can sell existing products or strategies, raise first or subsequent funds, or work with concepts where there is a desire to test the market.
While we are open-minded on client types and strategies, there are certain characteristics we seek that are non-negotiable:
- Trust – We work only with clients we trust. If we do not trust a client, we risk undermining the trust that institutional investors place in us. Mutual trust is essential to our mutual success.
- Belief – We choose to work only for clients with products, strategies or ideas that we believe in and which we can represent confidently and passionately.
- Partnership – We want to develop productive strategic partnerships with our clients. These are most likely to evolve if our clients work with us as if we were their in-house team.
If you have a product or strategy (or even an idea) that you believe will appeal to UK institutional investors, and if you require expert distribution assistance to take it to the market, let’s talk. We’ll take the time to assess your proposition and provide you with our thoughts. Irrespective of whether you and Black Isle are a good fit, you can be assured of honest, straightforward advice based on a genuine understanding of the UK institutional market.