Need To Meet: Alexander Abell, Founder and Managing Partner, Atlas Diligence

Due diligence is hard. It’s the time-consuming but very necessary drudgework that helps ensure that limited partners are getting what they think they are getting… with as few surprises as possible.

After many years of due diligence work at BlackRock, Alexander Abell left the $3 trillion money management company to start his own firm, Atlas Diligence. Abell is betting that Atlas Diligence, which is based in Chapel Hill, N.C., can help under-resourced investors by relieving them of some of their time-consuming research so that they can concentrate on other areas.

“The goal,” he said, “is to provide investors with tools to make better decisions, to help them do the necessary legwork and cover areas that they may not be able to cover themselves.”

“I’ve got a good sense of what people need help with,” he said, referring to his years of work with the clients of BlackRock and the firm it bought in 2007, Quellos Capital Management. At Atlas Diligence, he said, “we want to be an outsourced extension of their team.”

The idea for Atlas Diligence came when Abell noticed there weren’t any other firms out there focusing exclusively on outsourced due diligence. Although many private equity advisory firms offer due diligence as part of their service menus, Abell said that Atlas Diligence should not be seen as a competitor to advisory groups. “Due diligence,” he said, “is not a zero-sum game.”

Atlas Diligence plans to focus on certain kinds of investors, including family offices, endowments and pension funds, particularly those that have limited resources to do due diligence on their own.

One example of the kinds of due diligence the firm plans to offer involves emerging markets, which was a specialty of Abell’s at BlackRock. Investors, he said, may be interested in doing something in India, for example, but they may not have the human capital or experience or knowledge base to know where to start.

As for new clients, Abell demurred about specifics, but said he felt very strong about Atlas Diligence’s prospects.