When Jane Halsey founded The RoundTable Forum LLC in 1999, she was trying to combine the best elements of a dinner party, a private client conference and a hedge fund conference to introduce institutional investors to hedge fund managers.
"Those kinds of events are where institutional investors feel most comfortable, and I wanted to replicate that for them," she said. "We recognized that the relationship should be between the investor and the manager, and our intention is to strip out everything that typically comes into the middle of that."
Having started out in third-party marketing and hedge fund of funds, Ms. Halsey said she perceived a need for a more independent venue than what was typically offered by prime brokerages' capital introduction units, which only presented hedge fund managers who were prime brokerage clients.
So she devised a new model for capital introduction. An investment committee made up of institutional investors selects a group of 15 hedge fund managers for spring and fall events in London and 20 managers for the New York spring and fall forums. Each hedge fund manager is permitted to bring only one marketer "because we wanted to avoid a feeding frenzy," Ms. Halsey said. She and her small staff then invite institutional investors they know are in the market for hedge funds, including pension funds, endowments, foundations, banks, insurers, investment management consultants and hedge fund of fund managers. Attendance at the twice-yearly events are strictly by invitation only, Ms. Halsey stressed.
"There's nothing social going on at these meetings. No golf, no boondoggle. We start early, work all day, and hold the meetings in major business centers where the attendees will probably have other managers to meet with. There might be a cocktail reception afterward, but the event itself is all work."
The hedge fund managers themselves really do work the hardest of all at the forums, Ms. Halsey said. "The manager is really in the cat bird seat. He or she has to be ready for any and all questions. They are totally accountable and open to questions," she said.
Ms. Halsey said in order to make certain that investor interests are well-represented when selecting hedge fund managers to appear at the bi-annual events, Michael P. Hennessy, vice president of the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill endowment, and Ram Lee, director of investments at the endowment of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, just joined the RoundTable Forum's investment committee.
The 18th roundtable forum is scheduled for this spring in London. More information is available at the firm's web site: www.roundtableforum.com.