Just One Big Game of Telephone…

The asset allocation process (at least in part) can be likened to a good game of "Telephone".  

You know the game - you tell something to one person.  That information gets passed on to another person, then another person....until finally it circles back around to you.  Then you get to see if the information you ended with is similar to what you started with.  (And of course, it rarely is...)  

Often times when you present your information to an asset allocator, it gets passed around much in the same way.  From analyst to PM to CIO, etc… The question is, what does the information look like when it gets to the end of the chain?  

The biggest difference between this process and the game of Telephone is, you don't get a chance to correct any inaccuracies at the end of the game.  So, you better make sure that your information is crystal clear to start.

The Clayton Christensen Institute, named for the Harvard Business School professor who coined the theory of "Disruptive Innovation" (commonly referred to as "disruption"), talks about the "jobs-to-be-done" framework.   Basically what this says is that your customer (in this case an allocator) has a problem that they need to solve.  The better you understand that "job", the better able you are to help them.

Bottom-line is...recognize that even the most senior decision maker needs to support or defend his investment ideas.  So,make their job as easy on them as possible.

1. Start with simplicity.  

The more concise you can be with respect to communicating your message - particularly in your marketing deck, the easier time they will have in supporting your case. Often times, we have so much to say, that we vomit it all over them in our first email or meeting.  

No one can possibly absorb all that information at once.  

2. Provide a "leave behind"

A simple, professional one-page leave behind can help....who you are, why you do what you do, and your absolute, true key differentiators.  

Think about it this way - if you have two key differentiators, you are doing exceptionally well.  If you have three, you are an absolute rock star.  If you have more than that, it is worth re-evaluating the definition of differentiation.  

Can you leave behind your executive summary?  Of course... but again, it is in your best interest to stick only to the stuff that you really want to stand out. 

3. Understand their process

You need to know where the game of Telephone is leading and how your information gets digested.  At some point, of course, they will need all of your materials - make their job simple and give it them in a clean, easy to follow form.   A site like HFIN One can make this part both professional and easy.

When you have a chance, please pass this note around to a few friends.  Like the game, I am just curious what message comes back to me....

By JD David