Shops build up IR, marketing forces

The hot hire for buyout firms these days isn’t a dealmaker or an operations specialist.

Instead, shops are increasingly looking to bring on staffers that can bulk up their marketing and fund-raising 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% 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/fund-raising function, and that roughly 60% of those individuals had been hired since 2006.

“Essentially any manager whose current fund size is $600 million or larger who does not already have an IR professional on the team or doesn’t have plans to hire one is breaking out in a cold sweat right about now,” says Vanessa Bailey, 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, fund-raising 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 fund-raising 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,” says Denise Palmieri, director of client relations at executive recruiter firm Pinnacle Group International, in a recent white paper.

A quick scan of the Careers section at, an affiliated website of PE Week, found a few relevant ads of recent vintage, including one placed by an undisclosed private equity firm in the Mid-Atlantic region on Aug. 3 for a vice president to work with GPs in “all aspects of the fund-raising 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 is joining Pine Brook Road Partners on Sept. 8 as an IR associate. Zales most recently worked at Credit Suisse as an IR associate. At Pine Brook Road, a New York-based firm founded in 2006, Zales will work with the firm’s investment team, COO Joseph Gantz and CFO Robert Jackowitz, to build up the shop’s IR capabilities.

Another example is Charlie Bott, who joined the IR and finance team at BC Partners in April 2009 after spending more than 20 years in the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs.

Meanwhile, four of the 10 open positions listed on The Blackstone Group’s website on Aug. 7 were labeled “marketing roles.” All four jobs were added to the 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 fund-raising 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 Aug. 11 were associated with the company’s GSO Capital credit investment unit.

Blackstone didn’t return a request for comment. —Michael Baron