Gracechurch is currently out and about presenting its 2010 Global Private Equity study to the leadership teams of some of the major global PE firms. The 2010 study follows on from the inaugural baseline study in 2008.
The study was conducted in partnership with HawkPartners www.hawkpartners.com
It comprises in-depth interviews with 350+ investors, intermediaries and corporate executives. This is a major study which profiles the key players in detail - analysing key stakeholders' opinions of the firms in terms of their perceived strengths and weaknesses.
Leading firms use the research to plan and develop their reputations and to create focus around stakeholder communications programmes.
The 2010 study evidences a more mature sector where firms have moved beyond their entrepreneurial roots, positioning themselves as more mainstream financial players. Stakeholders are placing greater emphasis on integrity and trust and the best players are showing brand attributes that clearly set out what they stand for.
This is not to say that the sector has yet thrown off the negatives that have affected it's development; there is significant room for improvement on transparency, governance and the quality of communications with investors. And there are instances of individual firms whose poor reputation scores are likely tainting the whole sector.
Unsurprisingly, brand distinctiveness is hard to come by, with most differences being explained by size rather than stand-out attributes. There are several obvious themes that PE operators could major on: operational effectiveness, is one example of an emergent theme that is salient for investors. But if firms want to own this space then they really need to work harder on their communications to cut through to the investors.
We are working hard to ensure that PE management teams use this research to really focus on their core values and champion the idea that strong brands really matter.
Investors in particular have clear ideas about what they like and don't like and the firms with the most compelling brand stories will find huge benefits accruing, not least the ability to raise funds, create successful investments and ultimately benefit the whole industry.
One message that has been getting through to our subscribers is that a strong brand helps protect against your whole reputation being trashed on the basis of one bad deal.