As video conferencing replaced in-person meetings during the past year, fund managers have grappled with a crucial question: What’s the best way to gauge investor interest and build rapport if you’re not in the same room? Although virtual meetings won’t be a permanent substitution for face-to-face interactions, we at Swiss Financial Services expect they will become increasingly common during the early stages of fundraising. Fund managers who recognize this will have an advantage if they cultivate effective, concise ways to convey their investment strategy from their computer screen. To that end, let’s examine some essential steps toward building investor rapport during virtual meetings.
Set the Stage for Investor Engagement
Virtual meetings are typically shorter than in-person meetings, which means fund managers must use that time wisely to share their expertise and inspire investor confidence. Preparation is the key to success. Be sure to send information about the fund and investment strategy in advance because informed investors will increase the likelihood of productive calls.
Watch for signs of engagement — this includes investors who make eye contact, take notes, and ask for clarification. Those behaviors offer encouraging indications that the investor is receptive to your ideas and may consider doing business with you. Remember: Even if the questions are generic or surface-level, they provide clues to the investor’s interest level and pave the way to more detailed exchanges.
Pay attention to low-energy points in the discussion as well, and plan ahead to address those lulls. As part of your meeting preparation, create a list of investor-focused questions, so you can use them to jumpstart the conversation if the engagement level isn’t what you’d hoped.
Build Rapport, Don’t Pitch
Some fund managers treat the initial virtual meeting as a big sales pitch. This is a mistake. Instead, think of the virtual meeting as a two-way conversation. Investors will expect you to show your knowledge of the investment strategy, along with financial markets and trends — but this doesn’t mean you should dominate the discussion. Engaged investors will be inquisitive, asking questions about the investment strategy and the markets. Use this valuable opportunity to build rapport with prospective investors — learn about their needs and take a conversational approach.
Always Ask About Next Steps
Before you end the meeting, remember to ask the investor about next steps that would provide them with useful information. When fund managers neglect to ask this question, they miss a valuable chance to understand the investor’s level of interest. Engaged investors will want to learn more about the investment strategy and the firm. Typically, they will request specific additional information or suggest their analyst will follow-up with a DDQ (due diligence questionnaire).
Use the “New Normal” of Virtual Meetings to Your Advantage
As virtual meetings become the norm in the fundraising process, effective fund managers adapt to that challenge. Whether those discussions are with new or existing investors, you must take a focused approach to convey the value and rationale behind your investment strategy. Remember, those investors are not only assessing investment strategies; they’re gauging which fund managers represent the right fit. For that reason, you should be prepared to answer investors’ in-depth questions, but don’t treat the meeting as a pitch session. Instead, establish rapport with investors, and allow that initial virtual meeting to lay the foundation for future productive discussions.