Five Hedge Fund Pitch Book Tips That Make You Look the Part

Congratulations! You have started a hedge fund and done the hard work to put together that first investor presentation. Closing the deal is as much a matter of branding and image as it is track record. Hedge funds and private equity funds of all types, from the newly launched to the established fund, have to look the part in order to be taken seriously by high net worth and institutional investors. Here are five essential hedge fund and private equity pitch book tips that professional caliber brands should follow, and why they make a difference in capital raising results.

One Startup Hedge Fund’s Success Story

The difference that professional branding can make is best described by an example.

I was approached by a start-up hedge fund for help setting up a professional slide deck. They had recently launched their fund and were looking to get in front of endowments and other institutional investors and raise some capital. They knew they were going to be facing some serious judgement and felt they needed an institutional caliber presentation that could stand up to high scrutiny.

They needed guidance about how to format and structure the presentation, but it went further than just the layout of the deck. The content had to go with the form. There were two principals: one was the money manager and the other one was responsible for the operations and marketing of the fund. I saw the need to refine and streamline the description of their investment process. It may seem like a simple task, but getting two people to synchronize their thoughts on paper on a highly technical subject can be hard to navigate.

Having a unified message is one aspect of the presentation that many hedge funds overlook. The whole group has to say the same thing. Once I got the two principals on the same page, the message became much clearer and the presentation improved. Not only did the slide deck look better, but by going through the process the team essentially rehearsed their script.

For branding to be effective, the messaging about the investment strategy has to be clear and consistent throughout the entire deck. When investors are confused they resist taking action. I was meticulous about making sure, for example, that the slide in which they discussed an example of a trade went along with the steps they presented on their investment methodology slide.

The fund succeeded in raising assets and officially launched. After six months, they added a tear sheet to their marketing materials to showcase their performance track record. As time went on, the fund grew and they added a website landing page and business cards.

Strong branding played a powerful role in the fund’s success. Here are five main hedge fund pitch book tips that were followed.

#1 Be as Consistent as the Sun

Yes, literally.

It is a convention in the industry that performance results are always sent at the same time each month. Why do hedge funds do this? To present results in a clear way that will meet investor expectations. Investors like consistency in every aspect of a fund. They want their monthly and quarterly reports on time, and they should be presented in a clear, consistent format.

When millions and billions of dollars of capital are at stake, the slightest wrinkle is amplified. Every aspect of your presentation has to appear meticulously organized and run smoothly in order to deliver the appearance of trustworthiness.

#2 Know that Every Detail Matters

When a hedge fund’s marketing materials look sloppy, investors get nervous. They wonder what else is wrong with the fund and allocating money may appear too risky as a result.

It is a perception that may or may not be reality. If you want to make sure you are presenting yourself as the sophisticated, put together kind of a fund that would not give an institution or HNW individual the jitters, the safest thing to do is invest in a solid branding program that rests of the following elements. To ensure consistency of format, I create a set of Brand Guidelines for each client which tracks each of the following branding pillars.

#3 Get the Typesetting Under Control

Have you ever seen a slide deck with so many different typefaces that it looks more like a ransom letter than anything else? The number of font styles used should be kept to a minimum and each type should be applied selectively.

#4 Use Appropriate Hedge Fund Imagery

Although hedge fund managers are not selling a tangible product such as dishwashers or automobiles, the imagery associated with the hedge fund still plays a powerful role in conveying the brand identity. Many marketing professionals, and even amateurs, make the mistake of creating images in Photoshop. This works fine if the image size stays consistent. But if you ever want to transfer your logo, for example, from your slide deck to your website, it can cause some issues. Blowing up a JPG file will cause it to appear pixelated. The best practice is to create a vector file so that you can make images appear as big as you want without any blurriness.

Unlike those you see in industries such as fashion, food, and cosmetics, hedge fund logos should be understated and simple. The goal is not to evoke emotion; on the contrary, a hedge fund logo should convey stability, logic, and organization.

#5 Don’t Take Color Schemes Lightly

Though the hedge fund industry does tend to rank high on the conservatism scale, it does not mean that presentations have to be bland and listless. Color is an important carrier of brand recognition and a way to retain audience attention.

Having a uniform set of colors in your palette jogs a prospective investors’ subconscious memory. Remember those monthly performance updates? You want investors to say, “I remember this from last month!” when they open the email.

Professionally branded images have been designed with the proper mix of cool and warm colors. If two colors are combined, cool must be blended with warm instead of stacked up with another cool tone.

Good Branding Does Not Have to Cost a Fortune

Realizing that startup hedge funds do not have unlimited resources, I have designed a method that allows hedge fund managers to keep total costs to a minimum over the life of the pitch book. After investing once to create the initial pitch book, routine updates can be performed in-house. To make it as easy as possible, I design the decks in the universally known PowerPoint rather than Keynote or InDesign. Hedge fund managers are able to right click and populate new data into the deck with ease. The style elements remain in place.

In a hypercompetitive industry where funds can spontaneously go boom or bust, the ability to gain new investors is critical. If you want to become a powerful hedge fund or private equity brand, you have got to look the part. Professional typesetting, imagery, and colors can make the difference between a won and lost investment. To keep costs down, hedge funds should ensure that the initial design makes it easy for in-house staff to perform routine updates.

Did you find these hedge fund pitch deck tips useful? For more information or to obtain a branding consultation, email