Forgive the sports metaphor but when you get to know Gareth Henry, you can’t help to think of Shohei Otani the baseball star that throws a killer fastball while hitting lots of mammoth sized home runs. Having both of these skills is what makes Otani so rare. Some call him unique.
What does this have to do with finance and investments? Well if you haven’t come across his name yet, meet Gareth Henry. Just like the all star Otani, Gareth is a rarity.
It starts with a degree in actuarial mathematics Gareth earned at the University of Edinburgh Scotland. Recipients of this type of education typically end up in the bowels of an insurance company. Not Gareth: he may have started in the direction serving as Director of Strategic Solutions for Schroders plc, but that just got things started.
Ask Gareth makes him so different. In his own words: “I think what made the difference for me was that I had a knack for talking to colleagues, clients and even strangers about their investments in a meaningful way, which not all students of mathematics can do. So I naturally gravitated toward investor relations and raising capital.”
“I was always drawn to the way that finance and mathematics merged in so many ways, and once I developed an understanding of economics and risk management I was hooked.”
The Complete Package
Taking this deep understanding of finance and combining it with a passion for customer service, Gareth quickly succeeded reaching the Head of Investor Relations and Global Head of IR at industry giant Fortress Investment Group and subsequently Angelo Gordon.
In doing this, Gareth has transcended his formal education to cut a dynamic path in the world of hedge funds and private equity. Few other self-proclaimed reformed “math geeks” have matched his trajectory.
Success Comes Early
Before being lured to Angelo Gordon, Gareth Henry raised significant capital for Fortress’ hedge funds, real estate vehicles, private equity and private credit. His job required that he engage with investors across the US, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. In his later years at Fortress, he managed the Investor Relations group for the company’s $4 billion hedge fund business.
On joining Fortress, the highly respected financial magazine Institutional Investor carried the following well-earned announcement:
“Today, London-based Gareth Henry is a managing director at Fortress, in charge of raising capital in the European, Middle Eastern and African markets — and by all accounts, he’s phenomenal at it. Through hard work and relationship building, the reformed math geek has established great ties to sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and insurance companies.”
To achieve such accolades over the course of a lengthy career is admirable. At the time of the article detailed above, the young dynamo was just 32 years old with less than a decade of experience under his belt. But Fortress Investment Group was not the only organization to gain from his presence.
Angelo Gordon the organization that manages around $26 billion in private equity, real estate, and credit investments, was quick to take notice. In taking the unusual step of offering Gareth Henry a full partnership, AG President Lawrence Schloss acknowledged he was getting a seasoned executive with deep, global investor relations experience and a proven ability to meet client needs. Gareth’s substantial, global relationships offered AG the opportunity to build and solidify an investor relations foundation across the US, Europe the Middle East and Asia.
Constant Motion: The Habit That Creates Success
The fact that Gareth brings together a wide range of disciplines and experiences certainly creates the raw assets for success. But it is Gareth’s dedicated passion for understanding his clients that is the critical difference.
Some describe Gareth’s pace as “constant motion”. That is because he is a believer in the premise that activity creates opportunity. It’s is this drive that forms the cornerstone of service. In pursuit of constant improvement, Gareth isn’t afraid to ask for help: always seeking feedback from clients, peers and other team members. This is key to understanding the internal and external dynamics and meeting the needs of the client.
Scheduling Constant Motion
A typical day starts at 7am, making calls to Europe and Asia from his office. From there handling the day-to-day business in New York is the next on the agenda. This usually involves a client or counter party lunch. Most nights the schedule is booked with dinners with clients or industry colleagues.
Gareth believes that he can’t truly serve a client unless he has a complete understanding of their needs, as well as the needs of the organization he is working to help grow. With that in mind, he makes a minimum of 8-10 calls to clients per day, plus at least two face-to-face client meetings. That comes out to 500 meetings per year as a baseline, though 1,000 meetings per year is a reasonable goal. Doing compact and efficient road shows in cities around the world helps bring that number higher.
No power breakfasts for Gareth. He believes in starting the day running. He previews morning time reviews of important internal documents which often spills over into both late afternoon and weekends.
Sunday mornings are dedicated to calling clients in the Middle East and Sunday night to make the odd call to Asia, mostly Korea or Japan. As previously noted, Gareth is a dedicated high energy and that is what he proudly points out is the difference between ordinary work and unqualified success.
As Gareth puts it, “Activity creates opportunities”. He believes if you’re truly passionate about you work, why not devote as much time as you can to make it thrive? This is truly an accurate picture of a service driven personality.
Head of Global Investor Relations For Alternative Investment Managers
Recently, Gareth Henry has taken the next step in his fast paced career by setting out on his own in recognition of certain critical changes in the world of alternative investments: much more about those issues in a moment.
With a natural knack for listening, in a meaningful way, to colleagues, clients and even strangers about their investments is a gift that Gareth cultivates literally every day.
So where did the idea for the new company come from? As you might imagine, finding better ways to service clients was at the top of the list.
A Demanding Role
The title of Head of Global Investor Relations hardly describes the real task. Of course, the job involves communicating with existing investors, keeping them apprised of current events and the views of those folks doing the investing.
That is the easy part. The real challenge is bringing in new investment dollars. Only a very few alternative investment funds are fortunate enough to produce consistently great returns.
The industry is closely monitored by any number of data services that measure and report on the performance of virtually every alternative investment industry participant. Under these demanding circumstances, convincing anyone to invest new capital is a highly competitive endeavor. This is where the dual knowledge that Gareth brings to the party serves everyone so well.
Given all of these challenges, what can any client expect from just one individual? Perhaps the best answer comes from his peers and for that we go back to those at Institutional Investor, the voice of the alternative investment industry:
“. . . . . . . . by all accounts, he’s phenomenal at it. Through hard work and relationship building, the reformed math geek has established great ties to sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and insurance companies.”
And what are the major industry trends that will create the next big opportunity?
The Challenge: Staying Ahead Of The Curve
Achieving adequate returns in the alternative investment requires smart managers that are able to sort through a multitude of choices and pick winning investments. The window of opportunity seldom lasts long and for those who lack dedication (obsession), the life cycle of a manager can be short lived.
To achieve truly superior results on a consistent basis is the goal of every manager. To make this happen means constantly staying ahead of the curve in every aspect. This is where advice and opinions can be either a huge benefit or an unwelcome distraction. Gareth’s experience in the financial world and his obsession with listening to clients put him in the column of huge benefits. Here are some of his observations.
In alternatives right now, there are two main trends that are exciting. The first is the movement into direct deal and single asset investments in private equity and credit by the end institutional client. Larger clients are now focusing on doing deals themselves or in conjunction with a partner.
Investors can put their capital in private equity in several different ways: Directly, funds, co-investments and secondaries. Direct investing allows an investor to directly invests in private companies. It could be buying the entire company or a minority investment.
Co-investing is becoming more of a force to aid diversification with a minimal risk of reduced returns. For example, an investor puts $50 million in a private equity fund. Those innovative fund sponsors that offer co-investment rights have the advantage.
Here is how it works. When a fund looks for opportunities, it can allow the investor to participate not only through the fund, but directly as well. This sweetener is catching the attention as it helps offer enhanced investor returns through lower fees.
You’re already seeing and will continue to see large institutions making major individual investment decisions, which is really fascinating.
The other trend is what will happen in blockchain and cryptocurrencies. We have seen a good number of very talented alternative investment professionals move into this space, which is very exciting, because it’s legitimizing a revolutionary investment opportunity.
Until now the alternative investment world has watched from the sidelines as the value of cryptocurrency asset has risen to a staggering $800 billion driven principally by individual investors. In spite of unprecedented recent volatility, the net result is returns over the past 12 months of more than 50%.
Aside from volatility, major issues such as security and custody thus far have delayed the development of a bona fide institutional market. But this is slowly changing with numerous technology-based projects developing safe storage and other regulator approved custody services. In tandem with these developments, a growing number of fund registrations have taken place this year alone.
In addition to direct investment in cryptocurrencies, there is burgeoning interest in blockchain technology that contain so called smart contracts. Much of the interest is separate from cryptocurrencies. This is where private equity and venture capital opportunities are starting to emerge almost daily.
The Chase To Be The Best
As already observed, the business of raising capital is highly competitive. In order to stay one step ahead is a constant challenge. The pressure is intense and seldom lets up. Every participant has his or her own techniques. Here are several ways Gareth has developed over the course of nearly 20 years of success.
Mentorship has opened a whole new world of awareness. Gareth has marshaled around 20 mentors, all of whom are experts in their own field. When he wants advice he always goes them. It takes a degree of humility to accept leadership and support, but in a way much of his success has been adapting other people’s winning formulas in new ways.
Pipeline management is key in sales, even if no one wants to input all their client feedback. It’s boring, but like a lot of boring things, it works. Though Gareth admits, good management has been an acquired skill.
“I took on way too many tasks and didn’t make enough room for some of the details. I didn’t know at the time that the key to overcoming this is to create the right management structure. I believe you can’t have more than 5 people directly reporting to you at any one time to be effective. You have to be able to give a team the time and energy they need”.
Always solicit feedback from your peers, your team and clients. Many people are afraid of feedback, but it’s key to understanding the internal and external dynamics you’re operating within. Those who are afraid to ask for feedback are afraid to succeed.
Honestly, it’s passion and enthusiasm. If you’re trying to force yourself to be excited about an idea, it’s already an uphill struggle. You have to believe in the idea in the first place, and then once it’s formed Gareth fully expects he can move heaven and earth to execute it.
Not Distracted By Every New Technology
Lessons learned over his career have been a constant source of broadening Gareth’s path to success. Sometimes you get an unwanted dose of humility but that is just part of any worthwhile lesson. One thing remains a constant. Placing the customer in the position as a top priority remains the same. In our data intensive world new technology is constantly promising faster and lower cost execution.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius
Gareth is faithful to the notion that activity creates opportunity. He acknowledges that sometimes it might be better to go just a bit slower. To help this “constant motion” machine gain perspective has led to involvement in the art of meditation and mindfulness. Now in addition to his mantra about activity creating opportunity he has added: “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
Head Of Global Investor Relations
During the last off season when Shohei Otani announced his intention to move his talents from the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters to America, the full list of 30 Major League Baseball teams aggressively bid for his services. Not only was this because he had a wicked fastball and could hit for power. It was because Shohei was a superstar in both positions.
In the financial world where human expertise tends to be pigeonholed in a narrowly defined specialty, Gareth Henry stands out. Well educated in the fundamentals of finance yet born with the comfort and curiosity of a true sales advisor, Gareth is acknowledged by his peers as a “phenomenon” in the highly competitive field of capital rising.
And now this same expertise and dedication is available through Gareth’s new business. In an universe like the alternative investment business where performance is constantly under pressure and the performance of more and more managers is falling to the mean, having an innovative forward thinking member is an irreplaceable asset.