Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I Want it All, and I Want it Now!

We know them as the men who collect Ecosse Titanium Series Motorcycles, Bugatti Veyrons, Ferraris and Aston Martins. Men who spend over $500 million on their art collections, and $12 million on tiger sharks encased in formaldehyde. Men with temperature-controlled wine cellars containing chronological libraries of Romanee-Contis and Chateau-Lafites – many well past their drinkable stages. Men who shop for trinkets for their wives and mistresses at Harry Winston and Cartier, and buy Richard James suits and Charvet shirts for no reason other than they can.

The men described above are covetous. They exude a sense of entitlement. They expect to be granted access to the best of the best the world has to offer – and they hold out altogether until those demands are fulfilled. Many of these men, as you might have already guessed, are hedge funders. Creators of their own fate, their sense of entitlement is earned, not given. These men “eat what they kill” so to speak, and they work tirelessly to ensure that doors swing open for them. They strive for excellence, deliver it, and expect it in return. “Work hard, play hard” was coined to describe men like these. With Veruca Salt-like determination, they want it all, and they want it now, and they simply will not take “no” for an answer.

Understanding the mentality of a (successful) hedge funder in his natural habitat (as above) is a critical component to building a business that exists to serve the needs of a hedge fund.

Make no mistake - despite the tongue-in-cheek Veruca Salt comparison, we are not faulting these men for insisting upon the best of everything. In fact, if they did not have a 'want it all, and deserve it' mentality, they would not be as successful as they are. We do submit, however, that many people have a misconception about this rare breed of personality, and how to effectively work with and appeal to their attitude and behavior.

Demand Drives the Market. No, Demands Drive the Market

Yesterday, Cheyenne Morgan of Advanced Trading wrote a story entitled “Customize My Dark Pool.” (click here to read the full story.) We bring up the mentality of a hedge funder today because after we read this story, we realized that many companies and people marketing to hedge funds may not truly grasp their audience, or simply don’t have the capacity or business model to be able to comply with a hedge fund’s needs and demands (while still remaining compliant with regulators).

The story points out several key ‘buzz words’ that properly describe what hedge funds look for in just about anything that they bother with (no different than how they operate in their personal lives): “Premier.” “Exclusive.” “Unique.” These qualities are of utmost importance to the hedge fund audience. However, first, a business needs to assess whether or not their model can support this limited type of access that hedge funds look for to begin with.

In the case of dark pools (as discussed in the AT article), the jury is still out. While of course it makes sense that hedge funds would much rather pump their trades through a ‘black box’ of trade matching rather than have the whole world try to ride their coattails by having their trade patterns revealed at a larger broker, there is also reason for skepticism when it comes to the allegiances of these ‘dark pool’ offerings.

It sort of reminds us of that girl or guy you might have dated in college, who, you knew had cheated on every person he/she had ever dated, but promised they would NEVER cheat on you – putting trust into a ‘dark pool’ and buying their shtick that ‘you’re their #1 customer’ as they go sing that song to twenty other firms can (and should be) a bit disconcerting. Many seem to be offering ‘security’ out of one side of their mouths and ‘open access’ from the other. Either they don’t know their capacity/capabilities, or they don’t know yet which one sells. If there are clear lines to be drawn that will help hedge funds clearly understand the draw for one dark pool offering over another, the marketing efforts are in need of some bolstering.

StreetBrains had the hedge fund mentality in mind when we developed our model, so we are able to rest easy. We provide limited distribution research and expert access, solely to qualified institutional investors. It doesn’t get any simpler than that, and it’s exactly what hedge funds covet. Unique…limited…premier. Check. Give them what others can’t have. That’s the key.

At the end of the day, whether it’s undrinkable wine, inedible food, ugly paintings or broken statues - value is in the eye of the beholder. (After all, wealth as we know it might cease to exist entirely if the affluent stopped buying $6k Neorest toilets and $15 Renova toilet paper based solely on the fact that other people can’t afford it….)