Shops Build Up IR And Marketing Forces

The hot hire for buyout firms these days isn’t a deal maker or operations specialist. Instead, shops are increasingly looking to bring on staffers that can bulk up their marketing and fundraising capabilities.

Executive recruiting firm Cressida Partners recently conducted an informal poll of what it considers the top 100 buyout and growth equity firms and found that more than 80 percent already have at least one investor relations (IR) person. The poll found most mega-firms have staffs of between five and 10 people devoted to the IR/fundraising function, and that roughly 60 percent of those individuals had been hired since 2006.

“Essentially any manager whose current fund size is $600 million or larger who a) does not already have an IR professional on the team or b) doesn’t have plans to hire one is breaking out in a cold sweat right about now,” said Vanessa Bailey, the founder of Cressida Partners.

One reason for the current hiring is the recent pay-to-play scandal that has led the Securities and Exchange Commission to propose a ban on the use of outside placement agents in raising money from government pension funds. At the same time, fundraising has fallen off a cliff this year with the economy in recession and the denominator effect is taking investors closer to their target allocations to private equity. The tough conditions have private equity firms placing a premium on managing their relationships with existing limited partners throughout the life of a fund, a change from the prevailing attitude in years past that spending on anything but deal flow was a waste.

“As fundraising has become more challenging and the reach of placement agents has become uncertain, more of our clients have elected to create or enhance their focus on improving relationships with their existing and prospective LPs,” said Denise Palmieri, director of client relations at Pinnacle Group International, an executive recruiter with offices in Carefree, Ariz., Chicago, New York and San Francisco, in a recent white paper.

A quick scan of the Careers section of, the sister Web site of Buyouts, found a few relevant ads of recent vintage, including one placed by an undisclosed private equity firm in the Mid-Atlantic region on August 3 for a vice president to work with GPs in “all aspects of the fundraising process.” Similar positions were also well-represented on job sites such as and

One example of a recent IR hire at a buyout firm is Matthew Zales, who Buyouts has learned is joining Pine Brook Road Partners on Sept. 8 as an IR associate. Zales most recently worked at Credit Suisse as an IR associate in its Customized Fund Investment group. At Pine Brook Road, a New York-based firm founded in 2006, Zales will work with the firm’s investment team, Chief Operating Officer Joseph Gantz, and Chief Financial Officer Robert Jackowitz to build up the shop’s IR capabilities. Another example is Charlie Bott, who joined the IR & Finance team at BC Partners in April 2009 after spending more than 20 years in the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs.Notable moves in 2008 included David Whitehouse, now a partner and global co-head of investor relations at Apax Partners, who previously worked as a managing director in Merrill Lynch’s Private Equity Funds Group; Alex Rogers, a former senior analyst at investment consulting firm NEPC who joined First Reserve Corp. as vice president, co-investment and investor relations; and Emma Thompson, who serves as director of limited partner relations at Onex. She joined the Toronto firm, which engages in buyouts, real estate and credit investing, from Fairmont Raffles Hotels International.

Meantime, four of the 10 open positions listed on The Blackstone Group’s Web site on August 7 were labeled ‘marketing roles.’ All four jobs were added to site in the last week of July. The description for a position labeled “Investor Relations and New Business Development” calls for the prospective candidate to be “involved in fundraising efforts and LP servicing” and lists researching new [LP] targets and maintaining a database of due diligence-related information among the position’s duties. All four jobs were listed as being based in New York, while Blackstone’s in-house placement agent Park Hill Group is based in San Francisco. The two marketing positions still listed on the site on August 11 were associated with the company’s GSO Capital credit investment unit. Blackstone didn’t return a request for comment.