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Demand for Private Fund Groups Surges in Challenging Fundraising Environment

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Recent headlines about the alternative investment industry have painted a picture of a market that is facing multiple headwinds (e.g., geopolitical tensions, stubbornly high interest rates, political uncertainty), leading institutional investors to treat their capital commitments with an extra dose of caution. This has created a fundraising environment that seems at times to be running on fumes as many big investors readjust their allocations.

One beneficiary of this market flux are Private Fund Groups (PFG), which are playing an increasingly pivotal role in connecting GPs to LPs (and vice versa). A recent Bloomberg article, for instance, observed how some big-name private equity firms are “tapping outsiders to help them dig out and access new pools of capital,” with some placement agents taking advantage of a “surge of interest from blue-chip firms looking to raise for existing or new strategies even in countries where they already have a presence.”

The demand for skilled intermediaries is especially high among private equity firms, with recent fundraising activity in a clear decline. Data from Preqin found that private equity fundraising volumes fell by 11.5% in 2023 (the lowest total since 2017), while the number of funds closed dropped to 1,936 (the lowest since at least 2015). The venture capital industry has experienced a similar slowdown, according to Preqin, with many VC firms forced to spend a significantly longer time on the road chasing an increasingly hesitant pool of institutional capital.

PFGs are in a prime position to benefit from this challenging fundraising environment in the private markets. Indeed, our hiring data from 2022 and 2023 corroborate this narrative with a notable uptick in marketing moves within the PFG sector. This trend is not just a series of isolated incidents, but rather a reflection of broader fundraising uncertainties and the consequent strategic realignments within the industry.

Consider the recent string of M&A deals among major PFG players in 2023 alone. In April, global investment bank Harris Williams announced its merger with Sixpoint Partners, as it seeks to provide all-in-one private capital advisory, capital solutions, and M&A advisory services. In June, UBS completed its acquisition of Credit Suisse, creating one of the largest financial institutions in the world with a significant foothold in alternative investments. Also in June, Monument Group completed its merger with secondaries advisors Mozaic Capital, strengthening Monument’s service offerings to both LPs and GPs. In December, Mizuho closed its acquisition of Greenhill & Co., thereby expanding Mizuho’s advisory capabilities. Rounding out the year, Houlihan Lokey announces its acquisition of Triago to build out its private capital advisory platform in a major expansion of its private fund group business.

PFGs are also making a name for themselves as advisors to these types of M&A deals. While these advisory services are distinct from fund placement, these high-profile assignments signal the growing influence of PFGs across the alternative investment universe and provide another proof point for the expertise of PFGs in navigating complex financial environments. For example, Campbell Lutyens’ GP Capital Advisory team acted as a sell-side advisor to Actis in its recent acquisition by General Atlantic. Additionally, Evercore was the lead advisor for Global Infrastructure Partners on its landmark purchase by BlackRock, the largest acquisition by the asset management titan since it acquired Barclays Global Investors in 2009.

In the summer, the news broke that Jefferies hired 20 professionals from Credit Suisse’s Private Fund Group as it strides to take on the global PFGs. Echoing moves made by William Blair, Raymond James who also built out aggressively in 2023. Also, Jefferies recently made more than 600 hires across all areas of the bank globally as it continues its quest for global domination and is successfully building a PFG platform to match its rivals to as it goes head-to-head with established players in the fiercely competitive landscape of PFGs contending for GP dollars.

In addition to these deals, there were a series of high-profile moves among fundraising professionals, including Justin Garrod moving to Mercury Capital Advisors as a Partner, Sprague Von Stroh joining William Blair as a Managing Director, and Chrystalle Anstett leaving the buy side to join Moelis & Co. as a Managing Director (See the PFG Moves section for a more complete list). Overall, we recorded a total of 385 PFG-focused moves in 2023 on top of 410 PFG-focused moves in 2022, well above the mark of 305 moves in 2021.

While PFGs are still a relatively small part of the overall alternative investment industry, their importance is growing as investment firms expand to new geographies and new investor types. Taking a deeper look into the hiring numbers, we see several signs of a vibrant market. 

Quarterly Growth: The year began with 125 PFG moves in Q1 and 119 PFG moves in Q2, indicating strong demand for fundraising professionals. While hiring slumped to 87 moves in Q3 and 54 moves in Q4, we feel this has more to do with a resettling of the market rather than a shift in priorities.

Competition from GPs: One of the reasons for the surge in PFG hiring activity is demand from GPs, who are poaching fundraising talent from PFGs in an effort to build out their product suites. We tracked 56 moves from a PFG to a GP during the first three quarters of the year, versus just 24 moves from a GP to a PFG, which means many PFGs have roles to fill.

High Compensation: Fundraising professionals continue to command a high salary, especially those with specialist knowledge or relationships in key geographies. While some PFGs may have a hard time competing with GPs for talent, the healthy dose of competition is raising wages for everyone looking for a new role.

Regional Dynamics: We are tracking especially high growth in the UK and NORAM, with the UK seeing an increase to 106 placements in 2023 (vs. 79 in 2021) and NORAM growing from 179 to 222.

Diversity and Inclusion: PFGs are gradually improving the diversity of their teams, with 124 female and 261 male professionals making moves in 2023, compared to 134 females and 276 males in 2022.

Sectoral Focus: Alts firms are continuing to pivot towards sectors like Credit and Infrastructure/Real Assets with dedicated hires, reflecting a strategic realignment and setting the stage for sustained hiring activity. 

PFGs to watch: Jensen Partners data analytics team has tracked all of the hires at PFGs in the market over the past five years; keep a close eye on Evercore, Jefferies, Campbell Lutyens, and PJT Partners. While each firm has different hiring needs, the overall trend is clearly towards the continued growth of private placement teams.

Taken together, these insights and data points suggest that 2024 will be an even stronger year for PFGs as more alts firms look to ramp up their fundraising capabilities. As always, Jensen Partners is committed to helping clients navigate the ever-shifting landscape for marketing and hiring, so please reach out or reply to this email if interested in discussing further.

Sincerely,

Sasha Jensen

PFG Data Highlights

Marketing Moves

PRIVATE FUND GROUPS SENIOR MOVES

Alexandra Cromer joined Atlantic-Pacific Capital in January 2023 as a Partner from Sera Global. She is based in London.

Justin Garrod joined Mercury Capital Advisors in January 2023 as a Partner. Previously, he was at Stonington Capital Advisors as Managing Partner for 11 years. He is based in New York.

John Scott joined Threadmark in January 2023 as Managing Director, Distribution. Previously, he was at Vanbarton Group as Managing Director of Global Investor Relations for three years. He is based in New York.

Fabiana Cid Andrade joined Champlain Advisors in February 2023 as Managing Director, Private Fund Group. Previously, she was at Oria Capital as Partner, Investor Relations. She is based in Dallas.

Fahim Imam-Sadeque joined FIRSTavenue in March 2023 as Managing Director, European Sales Team. Previously, he was at Bury Street Capital as Head of Primary Fund Sales. He is based in London.

Jeff Hypes joined William Blair Private Capital Advisory in March 2023 as Managing Director, Private Capital Advisory. Previously, he was at Credit Suisse in a Private Fund Group role. He is based in Chicago.

Nick Ohler joined William Blair in March 2023 as Director, Fund Placement Distribution, Northeastern U.S. Previously, he was at Houlihan Lokey as Senior Vice President, Fund Placement Distribution, Northeastern U.S. He is based in New York.

John Crocker joined FIRSTavenue in May 2023 as Managing Director, Head of US Project Management, North America. Previously, he was at Addepar as a Capital Formation/Client Specialist. He is based in New York.

Blake Mock joined Pinnacle Trust Partners in May 2023 as Managing Director, Private Fund Group. Previously, he was at Advantage Capital as Senior Vice President, Investor Relations & Capital Formation. He is based in New Orleans.

Louis Kleist joined Eaton Partners in May 2023 as a Director of Private Funds Sales & Origination. Previously, he was at Moelis & Company as Executive Director, Private Fund Advisory. He is based in Spokane.

Grant Saul joined Eaton Partners in May 2023 as Director, Private Markets Capital Advisory. Previously, he was at Moelis & Company as Executive Director, Private Fund Advisory. He is based in San Francisco.

Matthew Flynn joined William Blair Private Capital Advisory in May 2023 as a Managing Director. Previously, he was at Campbell Lutyens as a Managing Director. He is based in Charlotte, NC.

Hudson Collins joined William Blair in May 2023 as Director of Distribution. Previously, he was at Credit Suisse as a Director, Private Fund Group. He is based in New York.

Chrystalle Anstett joined Moelis and Co. in May 2023 as Managing Director, Private Funds Advisory. Previously, she was at Sound Mark Partners as Head of Capital Formation, Co-Chief Operating Officer. She is based in New York.

Jonathan Jameson joined Houlihan Lokey Private Funds Group in June 2023 as a Managing Director in New York. Previously, he was at GCA as Managing Director, Private Funds Group (which was acquired by HL in 2021). He is based in New York.

Alexander “Xan” Morgan joined Threadmark in June 2023 as Senior Vice President. Previously, he was at Stonepeak as Principal. He is based in San Francisco.

Oliver Rahe joined MPW Capital Advisors in June 2023 as a Managing Director from Goldman Sachs Asset Management. He is based in Abu Dhabi.

Max Heller joined PJT Partners in July 2023 as Principal, Real Estate Distribution. Previously, he was at Aermont Capital as Principal. He is based in New York.

Ryan Kane joined Atlantic-Pacific Capital in July 2023 as Principal, Private Fund Group. Previously, he was at Sera Global as Executive Director, Private Capital Advisory. He is based in Chicago.

Michael Zard joined Atlantic-Pacific Capital in July 2023 as Principal, Private Fund Group. Previously, he was at Sera Global as Executive Director, Private Capital Advisory. He is based in Seal Beach, CA.

Daniel Claster joined Jefferies in August 2023 as Managing Director and Co-Head of Private Fund Group. Previously, he was at Credit Suisse as Managing Director, Private Fund Group. He is based in New York.

Andrew Wilbur joined Jefferies in August 2023 as Managing Director and Co-Head of Private Fund Group. Previously, he was at Credit Suisse as Managing Director, Private Fund Group and Co-Head of EMEA. He is based in New York.

Pierre-Antoine Godefroy joined Campbell Lutyens in September 2023 as Managing Director, Fund Placement. Previously, he was at FIRSTavenue as Managing Director, Head of Private Credit. He is based in London.

Brian Williams joined William Blair in September 2023 as Managing Director, Co-Head of Private Capital Advisory. Previously, he was at Credit Suisse as Co-Head of Americas Distribution, Private Fund Group. He is based in New York.

Jerome Wallace joined William Blair in September 2023 as Managing Director, Co-Head of Private Capital Advisory. Previously, he was at Credit Suisse as Co-Head of Americas Distribution, Private Fund Group. He is based in New York.

Brendan Webb joined Campbell Lutyens in October 2023 as Senior Vice President, Private Fund Group. Previously, he was at Credit Suisse as a Director, Private Fund Group. He is based in New York.

Jennifer Lu joined Jefferies in October 2023 as Managing Director, Private Fund Group. Previously, she was at Credit Suisse as a Director. She is based in New York.

William Hayles joined Jefferies in October 2023 as Managing Director, Private Fund Group. Previously, he was at Credit Suisse as a Director, Private Fund Group. He is based in London.

Andy Tria joined Jefferies Private Capital Group in October 2023 as Senior Vice President, Private Fund Group. Previously, he was at Credit Suisse as Director, Private Fund Group. He is based in New York.

Sprague Von Stroh joined William Blair Private Capital Advisory in October 2023 as Managing Director, West Coast Coverage. Previously, she was at Credit Suisse as Managing Director. She is based in Los Angeles.

Bertie Milward joined Quest Fund Placement Limited in October 2023 as Sales Director. Previously, he was at Goldman Sachs as Executive Director, Distribution. He is based in London.

Mark Cashel joined Jefferies in November 2023 as Managing Director, Private Fund Group. Previously, he was at Credit Suisse's Private Fund Group as Managing Director. He is based in San Francisco.

Jintae Kim joined Campbell Lutyens in December 2023 as Managing Director. Previously, he was at Korea Investment Corporation as Managing Director, Head of Private Equity. He is based in Seoul.

Mark Slaats joined UBS Private Fund Group in December 2023 as an Executive Director, Distribution. Previously, he was at Credit Suisse as a Director, Private Fund Group. He is based in London.

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Jensen Partners stands as the leading distribution executive search firm, dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion, while leveraging technology driven solutions. With a track record of 26 awards, the firm is widely recognized for their exceptional service, data-driven methodologies and commitment to building strong partnerships with both clients and candidates.

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