Fishing For Money

If you think about it, raising money is a lot like fishing – you throw out some “bait,” adjust what you are doing based on interest and “bites,” and then you wait.

As with fundraising, a lot of factors go into being a successful fisherman. The ones that are in the angler’s control – like the bait to select, gear to use, and the spot to drop a line – usually vary, depending on the situation. Specifically – the type of fish being caught and the body of water being fished.

And just like there all different types of aquatic animals in the world and all different ways to attract them, there are similarly all different types of investors out there and all different ways for fund managers to get in front of them.

So, it begs the question – if fishermen find it helpful to regularly modify behavior and use specialized gear in their jobs, why don’t money managers do the same when looking to attract new investors?

It would be considered ridiculous for a professional fisherman to limit himself to a single type of lure or rod every time he went to work. But to alternatives managers, it’s considered ridiculous to use anything more than one piece of “gear” in their job. Not only do few managers limit themselves to just a marketing deck, they use the exact same one in every situation – irrespective of the investor type, area of focus, or any specific needs. As if they are all exactly the same.

What about how each gather and responds to “feedback.” In fishing, it doesn’t take much to know when something’s not working. But as easy as it is, it still requires a strategy with respect to making adjustments. While it’s much more difficult with fundraising, it’s far from impossible. And doing nothing but waiting for a return email, isn’t much of a strategy – particularly when so much technology and client-specific data is now available to profile interest.

Finally, many managers seem willing to jump on a plane at the first hint of money – often without much more than an introduction from a trusted source and a quick Google search. The fisherman, however, would never get into a boat before exhaustively researching the spot and fish habitat.

I’m not suggesting that a fisherman who decided to apply his systematic approach to money management would ever be successful in raising money, of course. But I’m pretty sure that any money manager who applied the same linear thinking to fishing as he does to fundraising would undoubtedly starve.

By JD David

September 2019JD David