I heard some private equity career advice for those working on the investor relations side that I want to share.
Let’s approach this in a roundabout way. First, some truthiness: When moving up in any career in the early days, when you get those mind-numbing assignments for which you just know you are over-qualified, do them with a smile and use them to learn.
“Having a good attitude as you’re doing the less attractive parts of the job is key,” said one investor relations professional at Private Equity International’s recent Investor Relations & Communications Forum 2014. The IR professionals who spoke at the conference asked not to be identified.
For example: When building a pitchbook for a fund, focus on understanding the strategy, so much so that you can speak with confidence about the primary marketing message and the position of the fund in the market.
Or, when working on portfolio update books, don’t just enter numbers like a robot, but understand what the numbers really mean and learn what is really going on in at least several of the companies. Become an expert on three of four companies in the portfolio so that you can boil that down into a succinct group of points about those specific investments and talk about them in a clear way.
Look at it this way: If you happen to be at an LP meeting with a deal professional who can talk for hours about his deals, when questions arise about deals he doesn’t know, you can chime in and use your knowledge to add value. The deal guy will appreciate it.
It’s important to “get that buy-in across investment teams … making sure they have a high opinion of you and making sure they don’t just see you as a meeting booker,” the IR pro said.
The hope is that, when your boss is overbooked, he or she will look to you to step in. “If your boss knows they can trust you to be that ambassador and not embarrass the firm or yourself,” the IR pro said.
Building that kind of confidence is essential because without it, incessantly asking to accompany higher level IR execs to LP meetings will be frustrating. They don’t want to have to worry about you along with everything else giving them anxiety about pitching or updating an LP.
Keep this in mind: those tedious activities for which you are obviously overqualified are part of everyday life even for higher level folks. IR can be a thankless job, said another IR executive at the conference; however, it’s also the rare position in a firm that gets a view of an entire portfolio.
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