Is there a job for you in the new hedge fund ad world?

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Don’t expect Ray Dalio to promise: “You're in good hands with Bridgewater.”

Or for John Paulson to insist that: “Like a good alternative, Paulson & Co. is there.”

The SEC lifting an 80-year-old ban on hedge fund advertising isn’t as much of a green light as it is spotting a deer crossing sign that’s been overgrown with brush on an old winding road. For an industry that barely creeps into the public eye, save for activists who seek attention anywhere they can get it, don’t bet on the big risk takers resorting to cold calls or sappy slogans.

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“The hedge fund business is not going to pull the wool over the eyes of some unsuspecting person,” says Richard G. Lipstein, managing director of New York recruiting firm Gilbert Tweed International. “I don’t see SAC Capital advertising in The New York Times. I don’t see a lot of people going out there and making cold calls to mommy and daddy trying to sell them naked shorts.”

Opening up advertising to the general public doesn’t necessarily unlock opportunities. No matter how broad their reach, hedge funds still can’t sell to anyone with a net worth of less than $1 million excluding their primary residence, or annual income of less than $200,000 in each of the two most recent years.

Sorry, marketing mavens, ace admen, or salesgirls-next-door: You’re not getting that call for the cushy gig in Stamford.

“Most clients are using a wait and see approach,” says John A. Breault, founder of Breault & Smith.

The industry may eventually come around, but only once it’s weighed all the risks and rewards and implemented a strategy.

“I suspect it's going to be very carefully done. The industry will carefully go after the right audience by going after the right vehicles, such as Institutional Investor or on radio, Bloomberg,” says Lipstein.

Oh, wait, media mavens and slogan sleuths! There may be something in this for you!

“There may be an opportunity for ad agencies to create the proper medium,” says Lipstein.

It also opens up the door for Web developers. Many prominent hedge funds maintain a mere shell of an online presence, particularly after Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin went after hedge fund manager Phil Goldstein for responding to a prospectus request from somebody who was not verified as a qualified investor.

Lifting the ban on "general solicitation" enables hedge funds to build a web portal that could attract the elite clients they seek.

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  1. Scope the community. You don’t have to party like a co-ed, but you do have to get out and meet the movers and shakers on the social scene.
  2. Meet the players and participate. Ask questions like: Which companies do business with which others?
  3. Have something useful to say. After all, you’ve got the experience and the know-how.

(Source: PBS NewsHour)

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