Need To Meet… Jennifer Cho Rinehart, Partner, MVision Private Equity Advisers

If you’re a general partner looking to take a bite out of that huge Canadian pie up north, you can buy a directory of Canadian limited partners and start making phone calls to pitch your fund. Or you can get to know someone who’s been honing deep relationships with Canadian LPs for 10 years.

Jennifer Cho Rinehart, a partner with MVision Private Equity Advisers, a global placement agency with offices in London, New York and Hong Kong, began engaging with Canadian LPs in 2000, just when their private equity programs were ramping up. Ten years later, the number of Canadian institutions and their pools of capital have grown. “A road show in 2001 consisted of three or four meetings in one day,” said Rinehart. “A decade later, you could schedule a full week of meetings, tapping into billions of pension capital.”

In 2007, at the height of the fundraising market, Rinehart was visiting Canadian LPs at least two or three times a month, and she’s still meeting with them one or two times a month. Some of the Canadian LPs she meets with most frequently include Alberta Investment Management Corp., British Columbia Investment Management Corp., Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, OMERS Private Equity, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Public Sector Pension Investment Board.

The Canadian programs continue to evolve, with some of the larger programs weighting their portfolios toward direct or co-investing and away from fund investing, said Rinehart. “But they can’t do that overnight,” she said. “It’s going to take several years.” Rinehart explained that a few large Canadian pension fund wants to concentrate their dollars with fund managers that can provide co-investment opportunities. Still, she said, they are rebalancing, not stopping all fund investing today.

Rinehart stressed that, despite the move to direct investing, GPs in fundraising mode have plenty to head north for. The Public Sector Pension Investment Board and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board both “have huge pressures in terms of new capital coming in every year” that has to be invested, she said. Canadian LPs are trying to bring in new GPs that would enhance the value of their portfolios, whether that’s via “a GP in the middle market that’s offering a ton of co-invest, which is definitely an area of interest for some of these groups, or a sector-focused GP,” Rinehart said.

It takes a long time and a lot of work to build a real relationship with an LP, said Rinehart, which means “being a resource as much as offering an array of products. It can even mean introducing them to clients we’re not working with because we think it would be a good way for them to become comfortable with a particular industry or space they are looking at,” she said. “You can’t just have drinks with people and expect that that will build a relationship. You really have to bring something to the table, whether it’s knowledge or information that might be helpful to their cause.”