By Adam Sarhan

I do a lot of work with the media and emerging managers. Emerging managers come to me for all different reasons and one of the most frequent questions is: which conference should I attend? So, I decided to share my thoughts on this important subject.

With the proliferation of conferences, designed to attract Emerging Managers, a manger is confronted with making an important decision about which ones to attend. The decision they make should be part of an integrated marketing strategy. The strategy should have two primary objectives:

  1. Give them a powerful R.O.I. (on their time and capital)
  2. Increase their AUM.

The first step in that plan is to decide the amount of working capital they can devote to getting the word out and how much time they can be out of the office networking and contacting potential clients. Conferences are all about facetime with potential investors who are looking for a manager with a particular profile. To help managers select which conference(s) to attend I have developed the concept of F.A.C.E. FACE stands for: Format, Agenda, Contacts, and Economics.

  • F
    Format is a reference to how the conference is organized. Is it strictly Capital Introduction where the manager buys a table for the day and potential investors circulate to the tables? Or is it designed around a significant amount of networking time for managers to meet investors in an informal setting? Does the conference provider use some type of social networking to get the word out to potential investors about which managers will be at the event and the managers trading strategy? Does the conference provider offer to help the manager meet the investor attendees? Does the conference provider have a facility for the manager to contact potential investors before the conference?
  • A
    The agenda of the conference should feature speakers that will address topics that are pertinent to a manager’s position in the AUM growth cycle. Topics that address an Emerging Managers concerns and problems will be different than the issues an established manager is interested in. There should also be speakers that discuss asset allocation concerns and strategies for investors that are in the audience. Since not all topics will be of interest to all participants there should be areas for networking throughout the day so participants have the opportunities to meet each other.
  • C
    The key issue a manager should look at is the type of investor that will be at the event. They should draw a comparison between the type of investor that attends and the profile of the investor that could potentially invest with the manager. An Emerging Manager, for example, should be more interested in meeting incubators, family offices and individual investors and not focus on institutional investors the look for more established managers. Managers should also be on the lookout for Service Providers that can help them run their business efficiently and professionally.
  • E
    Economics refers to the cost of attending the event. In addition to the registration fee there is transportation to the event, hotel cost and potential entertainment cost. An example would be if a Chicago based manager is considering going to a conference in Florida that would cost $10,000 are they better off, for the same money, going to New York 3 times to visit potential clients in a one to one setting. The additional cost, that most managers don’t consider, is follow-up cost. A manager needs to have a plan for how they are going to follow-up with the potential clients they meet at the event. This may be by phone, email or a visit but it still represents a cost either as an expense or as time (a mangers most valuable marketing resource.

These are just a few of the factors emerging managers should consider before selecting which conference to attend. I like to look at decisions as putting on a trade. At the most basic level what is the risk vs (potential) reward. If the potential reward outweighs the risk (time & money you invest in attending a conference), then why not place that trade?

Adam Sarah is a special advisor to an independent marketing and branding agent for Emerging Managers.