InsightsKAP’s insights on private equity investor relations and fundraising
Whether you are preparing for your annual meeting, or just wrapped it up for the year, below are insights to ensure your annual meeting is a success!
The annual meeting is arguably one of the most critical events for a general partner (“GP”). At no other time during the year will a GP have a captive audience of a quorum of their investors for an extended period of time. For some GPs, the annual meeting might be the only time during the entire year that they see many of their investors face-to-face. The annual meeting is a key opportunity for a GP to highlight the relevant investment and organizational decisions that have been made over the past year and share current market insights.
November marks the start of one of two annual meeting “seasons” for real estate and private equity managers. The average limited partner (“LP”) will attend between 15 to 20 annual meetings in a given year.
What are some ways that your firm can host an impactful annual meeting and stand out from the crowd of other managers competing for LPs’ time and attention?
- The first step in a successful annual meeting is to create a logistical timeline and work plan that can be replicated year after year. Planning should typically begin at least four months in advance of the event. Depending on the size of your team, you may wish to hold a firm-wide kickoff meeting to develop consensus on key themes. Another firm-wide meeting should take place shortly before the annual meeting to rehearse the presentation and review the attendee list.
- The second step toward hosting a successful annual meeting is to develop meaningful content, which delivers the information the audience wants to hear. Specifically, LPs are most interested in understanding: 1) investment performance, 2) timing of upcoming distributions, 3) size of the investment pipeline and anticipated capital calls, and 4) the firm’s near and long-term fundraising plans. An effective presentation will reinforce the state of the firm and the LPs’ investments. It is important to be transparent if certain assets or companies are not performing to plan or if there are other firm issues at hand. Keep the presentation as brief as possible – this is not the forum to take a deep dive into every deal. Rather, it is the opportunity for you to present an overview of each fund, the key performance drivers, and your goals for the year ahead.
- A few other things to keep in mind when developing your annual meeting presentation content:
- Do more than just update the numbers: LPs want to know what has actually happened in the past year. Do not simply recreate/update numbers in your presentation from the prior year. Rather, describe major movements qualitatively. Investors appreciate seeing performance against original underwriting; they want to understand the reasons behind any movements in performance.
- Your presentation will be circulated to 10x+ the number of annual meeting attendees: Each LP attendee will likely share your presentation with their colleagues and potentially with others in the industry. Your annual meeting presentation should stand on its own, i.e., the information included should be easily understood even by those who are not physically present at the annual meeting.
- Know your audience because they might not know you: Because annual meetings tend to take place in November and April, your main point of contact might be unable to attend and will instead send a colleague in his or her place. Since attendees might not be familiar with your firm or investments, succinctly describe your team and strategy during your opening remarks. Also, avoid delivering new information in this setting (i.e., a major team departure or the full write-off of a fund’s largest investment).
4. LPs travel to annual meetings for both an in-person update on the state of their investment and to network with fellow investors. Be sure to make their trip worthwhile by providing them the opportunity to mingle and exchange perspectives in an unmediated environment. Think also about any market intelligence you can share that might help your LPs identify new investment opportunities or make more informed decisions about their own portfolios. Relationship facilitation and knowledge sharing are the sorts of “intangibles” that may cement LPs’ loyalty to your firm.
5. Once you successfully make it through your annual meeting, your work is not quite yet over. The final step in a successful annual meeting is timely follow-up. A quick e-mail or handwritten note following the meeting is always appreciated. It is a small gesture to recognize the effort that your LPs put forth to attend. Consider soliciting feedback from investors (and employees as well) via an anonymous survey to highlight things that went well and areas for improvement. All of this feedback will be helpful in planning your annual meeting the following year.