The global pandemic has catalysed a revolution in capital introductions. Reuters recently reported on the jump in digital matchmaking driven by clients shifting to digital platforms to connect manager and allocator capital – We are at the forefront of this trend. However, the digitization of capital introductions is about far more than matchmaking managers and allocators – the technology, its applications and its evolution hold huge potential not only in the way we hold meetings but in the way we think about events, access to knowledge and philanthropic engagement.
iConnections has just turned a year old and in that time we have grown to encompass $47.9 trillion in allocator capital and $15.9 trillion in manager AUM following a sustained surge in subscriptions for the platform. Maintaining the human touch and creating a real sense of community has been critical to our success during the pandemic. We have worked tirelessly to recreate person-to-person interactions – creating a safe and comfortable environment where trust and lasting relationships are built. After all, we are social creatures – particularly those in our industry whose careers have been moulded through physical meetings, travelling from city-to-city and building extensive professional networks.
With global vaccination programs accelerating, the light at the end of the tunnel is near. We are rapidly having to anticipate what the new working world will look like and how we can apply positive lessons from the pandemic to help the industry move forward. The efficiencies of working remotely -which include cutting travel time but also using our platform’s data to intelligently connect manager and allocator requirements – will undoubtedly play a central role in our industry’s future.
As well as improving working practices, iConnections has shown how we can create impact and give a platform to ideas and initiatives that are essential to the future of our industry – giving our community a means to develop and fulfill a social purpose. High levels of engagement through the platform and the wealth of the iConnections community has translated into a highly effective way to raise funds for important causes. Last year, we harnessed this fundraising potential to raise $1.9m through our Funds4Food initiative to tackle hunger caused by the pandemic, by having allocators pledge meetings and directing manager registration dollars to the charities. In May, we are looking to replicate this success with Funds4Minds, an initiative which will raise money for mental health charities around the world. Currently, over 2000 meetings have been pledged by more than 400 allocators responsible for over $20 trillion in assets. This year iConnections will donate $100 for every meeting completed by allocators. We are actively looking for philanthropically focused groups to match these dollars and help us in effort to raise awareness of mental illness.
The power of our community has also been harnessed to give a platform to causes and organizations that promote diversity and inclusion. For example, we have collaborated with 100 Women in Finance, the global network of financial professionals promoting the empowerment of women in the industry, hosting speakers and meetings for female managers and allocators. The platform has also given a voice to emerging managers who would previously have found it hard to secure meetings with larger allocators. Our data speaks for itself and the platform has given newer managers the means to expand their networks, delivering more choice for allocators with quality managers that may previously have flown under the radar. Quadratic Capital, a female-run manager that uses our platform, who I spoke to recently participated in over 40 meetings held through the platform and went on to more than double their assets as a result.
As we look ahead to a post-pandemic world, it is important that we apply the positive learnings from the past year. We have all missed the buzz of physical events, so at iConnections we are investing in this hybrid future, satisfying the pent-up demand for in-person events alongside the benefits of engaging through a virtual community throughout the year. In January 2022, we will return to physical events in Miami for our Global Alternatives Investment Conference and will be welcoming over 450 managers and 500 allocators to the Fontainebleau Hotel, giving our virtual community the opportunity to strengthen the connections they have made during the pandemic and forge new ones.
The pandemic has revealed virtual capital introduction platforms to be so much more than connectors of people. It has shown how we can improve our working lives, through driving efficiencies that lowered costs and gave us back hours, days and weeks typically spent travelling. It has also shown how we, as an industry, can make a positive impact on the world around us and level the playing field for emerging, ESG and DEI managers. When you apply technology to a problem, it is sometimes hard to foresee the extent of its transformative impact on an industry or an issue. Over the past year we have shown that iConnections is more than an effective way of connecting managers and allocators – it is a platform for progress, fulfilling social purpose and promoting important issues and ideas.