Saturday, January 11, 2014

Emerging Manager Conference - Austin Texas / Choose Wisely

Emerging Manager Conference - Austin, Texas

More than 700 attendees filled a large meeting room at the Austin Convention Center on January 8.  My partner Elizabeth Weiner and I joined the Texas Emerging Manager Conference, co-sponsored by Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Employees Retirement System of Texas. A year ago, this same event drew just over 300 people.

This conference serves as an educational and networking forum for emerging managers and public pension funds with emerging manager investment mandates.  The managers learn the process that the pension funds follow when considering investing with an emerging manager.  In return, the pension funds get to meet and greet emerging managers that they did not know prior to the event.

Let me share with you a few quotes from pension fund representatives on the real estate panel:

“Smaller and newer managers can outperform their larger peers.”

 “Your track record during one complete cycle is important to us.”

 “Don’t be reluctant to ask a pension fund ‘ What are some of the problems you’re looking to solve?”

“A pension fund needs to see that you’ll be around so it may take quite a while for us to write a check to you.”

 “The emerging manager we’re looking for can do something better than we can do ourselves.”

There are many ways for emerging managers to differentiate themselves from the larger, more established firms.  But one requirement consistently remains the same: institutional quality back office and reporting capabilities, whether inside or out-sourced, must exist.

The pension fund representatives voiced both  encouragement and awareness of the challenges faced by emerging managers.  But, it was also clearly stated that pension funds are looking for emerging managers – on their own, and through referrals from fund-of-funds and consultants. 

If you are thinking about going out on your own, or have already launched an emerging manager firm, I encourage you to attend this conference next year…you will take away excellent advice and perhaps even meet people who can help you get where you want to go.  Just imagine one day receiving a call from a pension fund, “It was nice speaking with you at the conference.  We’d like to have you meet with us.”  Crazier things have happened!

And did I mention that the conference was free to attend this year?

Choose Wisely

On a relative basis, the number of people working in the global commercial / institutional real estate community is rather small.  And the more time spent in this industry, the smaller that world becomes. 

This past week included several poignant examples of this phenomenon that caused me to pause for a moment and think about the utter importance of one’s reputation.  In person, on the phone, and via email I had ‘conversations’ resulting in third party names being brought up that immediately served as connecting points.  This type of ‘small world’ familiarity leapfrogs the conversation to another level - instantly.  It’s a beautiful thing…allowing two people, who have never met before, to feel comfort that they know someone in common.

But there’s a caveat here as well:  we are all remembered for both our actions and our words.  Sometimes what people remember us for is based solely on the first impression we make.  Other times it comes from something they heard about us from another source.   Finally it may stem from something people just know we did – closed a big deal, helped someone get a job, supported a non-profit, or established a scholarship.  It, of course, is also possible to be remembered for something less than wonderful.

Students and younger real estate industry professionals often ask more senior people for career advice.  When I’m asked to provide suggestions, it’s easy for me to answer:  keep your nose clean, do the right thing and be kind to people.  Your reputation will both precede and follow you throughout your career.  When faced with situations that can be handled in two ways, choose the right one – the time it takes to make the decision may be short, however the results may last forever.


Asieh Mansour, now Senior Advisor at The Townsend Group.

Emma Villiers has joined Fidelio, the Board Development and Executive Search consultancy.

On The Road...

Jan. 13:  Behavioral Presentation Coaching Workshop, Greenwich, CT

Jan. 15 – 16:  New business development meetings, Washington, DC

Jan. 22 - 24, 2014:  IMN (Information Management Network) Winter Forum on Opportunity and Private Fund Investing, Laguna Beach, CA

Mar. 11 - 14: MIPIM, Cannes, France

May 16:  Annual meeting of The Hoyt Fellows, North Palm Beach, FL

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