In the asset management industry, marketing and investor relations are frequently lumped into the same bucket. Frankly, this is a mistake. They are very different things, and it is best to treat them as such. One of the most dangerous traps an asset manager can fall into is being very good at investor relations, yet thinking they are exceling at marketing. And believe me, this is extremely common.
So… what is the difference? Now, I am sure there are long dissertations describing both, but it isn’t complicated.
Investor relations is focused on relationship management, obviously. Although it touches all forms of relationships, it is primarily focused on ensuring LPs are both informed and catered to. Performance reports, explanations related to volatility, the rationalization of an acquisition, etc., anything and everything related to execution should be presented in a timely and professional manner.
You can see why the line between IR and marketing gets pretty grey. Information pertaining to performance, volatility, and acquisitions can be very interesting, however, what if it is not interesting? And believe me, it is not interesting way more than it is interesting. If at this stage you are not consciously “marketing”, any momentum you have as an asset manager grinds to a screeching a halt and you start to aimlessly drift in the sea of sameness.
What then constitutes “being interesting?” Well, to be interesting you need to think beyond simply reporting. Have an opinion on something. Contribute to society in some way. Do something people don’t expect. Patagonia is a great example. They often do things anti-capitalistic in order to support an environmental cause. What… a company putting people in front of profits… interesting. Just because you manage money doesn’t mean you can’t do right, support the arts, have contrarian opinions, or trade performance for something that will benefit your LPs in other ways. That last one is really interesting isn’t it. And things that cause people to stop … well that’s just good marketing.