Candidate Assessment Traps>> Killer Product or Sales Skills?

The age old question always asked when hiring a capital raiser. Is the candidate’s track record a function of deep investor relationships and their sales ability, or is it the market demand for the fund they are selling? We have studied that very question since conducting our first hedge fund search in 1990. Here, we will try to provide clarity around the best practices used in assessing fund raising talent. This is part of an ongoing series that will cover the full range of functions in the industry. Our purpose is to inform our audience about assessment methods currently employed that are the best predictors of candidate success in the investment space.
Since 1990, our firm has worked on several mandates every year to recruit a capital raising professional for one of our investment management clients. Every search is unique, each client different in culture and size. That said, when hiring a marketer, they all need an individual who has deep relationships and a proven track record of raising capital. Our firm’s task is to determine which candidate’s fund raising prowess provides our client with the best probability of securing allocations for the fund. To that end, we have used a process that employees our network of managers and allocators that we have cultivated over a period of 30 plus years, to answer that very question.
 Our assessment process begins with an overview of the funds the candidate has marketed over the course of their career. We rate the funds on a scale that measures how easy or difficult it was to raise capital for that fund at the time the candidate was marketing it. It is scored using our own quantitative and qualitative process that assigns a value to this first component of our assessment, which is to what degree did the fund effect the candidates capital raising track record.
We then move to the second component of our assessment process and map the allocator universe for the various funds the candidate has sold, and compare that universe to the number of relationships the candidate has in that universe. That provides us with the second value, which is to what degree does the candidate have relationships he/she can monetize.
Lastly we interview the candidate to determine cultural fit. We use a work history behavioral analysis that gauges how well this individual will fit in to our client’s work culture.
Over the decades this process has evolved as each engagement we take on provides us another data point to test the accuracy of our methods, and observe if our assessment model proves itself in a real world fund environment. That is, we track the performance of the people we recruit and continue to update our process on what we learn. As with any endeavor to predict human performance, it needs to be a continual agile process of improvement.