I say tuh-mey-toh, You say tuh-mah-toh. Are You Trying To Confuse Me?
By Ken Akoundi and Kartik Uchil
Truth is ever to be found in simplicity,
and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.
- Isaac Newton
With one of our CIO clients, we were discussing the Investec vendors we had recently been considering and how annoying it was that they kept on using different nomenclature to describe the markets they served. Here is a typical conversation.
-CIO: “can you tell us how many clients you have?”
- Salesperson: “250 asset managers”
- CIO: “how many pensions?”
- Salesperson: “2. But we have 25 Fund of Funds”
We have all heard pitches talking about “allocators”… “buy-side” … and “Institutional investors.” We both agreed that it would be great if the vendors got used to using the exact nomenclature that described their markets.
We debated the matter for a few more minutes and both agreed that it is now in the hands of the sales folks to utilize the right nomenclature.
We fully realize that it is both a matter of not understanding the nuances at best and deliberately using the wrong category at worst (i.e., many organizations benefit from confusing the buyer, especially in the technology sector).
We agreed that this will put some categories into question: are Multi-family offices long term investors? The answer is not as crisp: yes, if they were set up to operate forever and are managed by a staff of professionals (e.g. the Walton Family); no, if the investment is dominated by short term pressure by the founder and its descendants (e.g., “I feel like buying another Renoir” — sorry to disappoint by not naming names).
How about Hedge funds? Are they asset allocators? Arguably anybody who constructs a portfolio is an asset allocator.
The two other categories not mentioned above are OCIO and pension consultants. In this world order, OCIOs are the same as FoF. Pension consultants on the other hand are viewed as FoF if they have the discretion to allocate. Otherwise, they are considered a general consultant (not displayed above).
Here is our plea/call-to-action: All salespeople, please use the appropriate nomenclature when pitching “long-term investors.” For example, if you are ONLY selling to Pensions/Endowment/Foundations, then use long-term investors as your target market. However, if you selling to Pensions/Endowment/Foundations AND fund of hedge funds (e.g., FoF), please use the term “asset allocator” but make sure you clarify the break-down voluntarily.
If you are selling to everyone, then you are correct to use the term “buy-side.”
Cordatius helps long-term investors deal with information overload, data inaccuracies, incomplete information, inefficient processes, dated technologies, overpromising vendors, and difficult implementations.