Getting them right should be a matter of common sense; however, all too often we hear investment consultants complaining that managers are making thoughtless mistakes throughout the process, which lead to lost opportunities.

Following the first in this three part series ‘Getting your foot in the door’, we delve into how asset managers can deliver an effective presentation:

How many is too many?

Never have more than two people in a presentation: the investment manager and the marketing contact. The audience will be concentrating on absorbing often complex information and too many people in the room can lead to distractions.

Who should say what?

The marketer has done well getting the solution into a pitch situation, but when it’s time to present, the investment manager should be the star of the show. This is particularly true for alpha strategies where buying into the skills of the investment manager is above all the most important criteria. Except for a brief introduction from the marketer, the investment manager should come prepared to do all of the talking.

It is very irritating when marketing people interrupt in the meeting, unless it is to genuinely add value by answering a question the investment manager does not know the answer to, or to steer the investment manager back on track in order to keep the meeting to time.– Investment Consultant

Keep an eye on the clock

Trustees and consultants are busy people, and when faced with a day of presentations attention spans may begin to waver. If you are allocated an hour, stick to an hour (40 minute presentation, with 20 minute Q&A), and if further information is required at the end, the consultant can coordinate this.

As there is usually very little flexibility to run over time, it’s important to decipher which parts of the presentation tell the story best and keep focused on this. By doing so you will also avoid the risk of letting your guard down and saying something you later regret.

Death by PowerPoint

When it comes to putting together a pitch book it is always tempting to go heavy with the content for fear investors might miss a crucial detail. However, as the consultant will have already done the majority of the research into the solution’s capabilities, it is taken as a given that its objectives will match up to the scheme’s requirements. Therefore, during the meeting, the investment manager should focus on building chemistry with the investor, as being liked and respected will be important in the decision making process.

Simple and concise bullet points which can be expanded upon verbally are the best way to achieve this.

Pitch books should be a crutch, not a cast. Trustees are not interested in reading long winded explanations of complex investment strategies. They want to hear the investment manager telling the story in their own words. That’s far more engaging.– Investment Consultant

Be creative with your imagery

There is no doubt that graphs and charts are an essential tool in illustrating a strategy’s USPs. However these can often be over complicated and boring on the eye. Clean cut lines with clearly labelled axes are an obvious plus, but use of less conventional infographics have also been noted as an excellent way of explaining investment terms and differentiating a presentation.

Trustees have a lot to get their head around and simple graphics are a great way of making seemingly complex investment products digestible. Asset managers should not be afraid to include them in their pitch books.– Investment Consultant

What’s interesting?

Although keeping content concise is vital, don’t over simplify for the sake of it and risk cutting out vital details of the strategy. Trustees will want to get a better understanding of the investment philosophy and process, as well as how risk is managed, so don’t be afraid to go into detail in these areas of the presentation. Evidence of performance (or back testing as a last resort for new solutions) is also essential in convincing the trustees that your solution makes the returns they need.

When it comes to underperformance, honesty is the best policy

It is only natural that trustees and their consultants will want to hear how the solution performs across all market conditions. Therefore, it is better to address any periods of underperformance head on in the presentation, and give a clear explanation of the reason for this. Honesty is very important in building trust with the consultant and the scheme.

Appendices are there for a reason

If you’ve got all the way to the pitching stage it is likely that the consultant has met with you and got a full understanding of your company’s ethos. Therefore, there is no need to include company information or biographies in the main body of the pitch book. These should be included in the appendices, to be referred to either during the Q&A or after the presentation has ended.

Biographies should also be kept short and concise, with only the most relevant experience highlighted.

Offer up targets as a way of measuring success

It is undoubtedly attractive when an investment manager shows utmost trust in their own strategy and nothing is more comforting than when that manager is willing to set tangible and realistic performance goals to prove this. Of course shifting market conditions can make things complicated, but it should be made clear from the outset what returns investors should expect to make over a given period. This is, at the end of the day, all they care about.

In the last of the series, we share top tips on how asset managers can build long term trust with the consultant community…