Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Courtship or Business Development?

In business development, the game is like courting, the ancient Victorian Era concept that happened before couples got together. Back then, there were two parties involved: the male courter and the female courtee. In order to win a lady’s affection, men had to woo them, whether through gifts, flowers, romantic horseback riding dates, etc. The point was that the courter was expected to make the courtee feel special and important in order to win her hand in marriage. Similarly, in raising investments, we must ‘court’ our investors. We call them up to gauge their interest in our firm, take them to lunch to continue building up the relationship, invite them to our offices to see the operation before they proverbially tie the knot by investing in our firm.

I find it interesting that even in the finance world, which I imagined to be a cold, emotionless space, one of the integral parts of the firm has such a relational aspect. Sure, the investment side is more likely to be withdrawn, emotionless and based on parameters, but it would be impossible to invest without funds to invest with. The first step is usually the most important step and it is striking to me how big a part the relational aspect plays in running a hedge fund.

In the pursuit to land investors, I noticed my boss, Andrew, had a seemingly endless supply of patience and hope. When I first started sitting in on calls with potential investors, the first few leads ended in a resounding negative. At the time, I remember being almost embarrassed for him. If I was in the situation, I probably would have started looking for new leads. However, Andrew simply marked down that he emailed them and continued moving forward completely unfazed. He would continue pursuing those investors, reaching out every couple of weeks to maintain connections with a remarkable level of perseverance. Some investors eventually responded, others did not. What was amazing was how Andrew dealt with it, focusing on the wins and forgetting the losses. That is the attitude one must cultivate to be successful at this business.