Relationship Managers Growing in Stature

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When KKR announced its dire results earlier this month, it was probably no coincidence that it also revealed it had been hiring people to manage its relationships with investors.

Specifically, the firm said:

In order to enhance that dialogue and continue to provide you with industry-leading service, we made significant investments in our relationship management efforts during 2008, adding new, seasoned leadership and professionals to our team as well as increasing the frequency and caliber of our communications.

Recruiters say there's even some relationship manager hiring across the asset management world.

"Investors are seeking more information and you need investor relations people to provide that," says Guy Townsend, managing director and a private equity specialist at London search firm Walker Hamill.

"Because performance has suffered across the board, there's a growing emphasis on client retention," says Zak Allom at search firm Kinsey Allen. "Traditional fund management firms need strength in client relationship management to prevent the net outflow of assets, and where they're raising new assets they need to show that there's a strong client services team and process in place."

Despite this, there are apparently numerous mid-ranking relationship managers bobbing about on the market. "Funds have been getting rid of relationship people with a few years' experience," says Samantha Donauld of asset management recruiters Shepherd Little. "And hiring in this area has been sporadic and direct rather than through recruiters."

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