Karyn Geringer says her four years at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, graduating in 1994, really shaped her as an individual, “giving me quite a lot of confidence, discipline and training, and the ability to deal with challenging issues”. After two more intensive years earning an MBA at New York’s Columbia Business School she joined Credit Suisse, where she started out in Equity Sales Trading, offering her first exposure to hedge funds. Geringer was quickly identified as a self-starter and charged with helping to spearhead Credit Suisse’s move into prime brokerage capital introductions. This provided “the genesis of institutional investor relationships” and established a recurring pattern, whereby Geringer was tasked with pioneering projects and ramp-ups. She was chosen as Pequot Capital’s first senior hire as part of a new marketing team designed to revamp Pequot’s relationships with family offices, funds of funds, and endowments. Pequot had, for the first time, created the role of Chief Marketing Officer, to whom Geringer reported.
The next growth story was GLG’s North American drive, which she co-orchestrated almost from scratch. Although GLG was a large, well established group with assets around $14 billion, a very modest amount came from the Americas region – partly because GLG had never had a dedicated US marketing effort. That soon changed, as Geringer relished the challenge of making inroads into America’s institutional investor base. The then GLG chief, Emmanuel “Manny” Roman, who now runs Man Group, wanted someone with the well rounded experience of multi-product and multi-strategy ranges that Geringer had acquired at Pequot, and she co-headed GLG’s North American marketing team.
The role at CQS is larger in that Geringer is now Principal and Head of Marketing, Americas. The remit is also geographically bigger, being pan-American, including South America where Brazil and Chile are especially promising markets, but North America still makes up the bulk of assets. Geringer’s rich network of relationships with endowments, foundations and pension plans has proved invaluable to CQS, but patient attention to consultants has perhaps been even more useful. A significant part of the CQS marketing effort is devoted to servicing the data and due diligence needs of the crucial consultants. Consequently, CQS has won the imprimatur of several renowned hedge fund consultants in the US.
Geringer identifies two critical themes behind this marketing success. The first is consistency of communication. “Consistent follow-up and consistent presence in front of the investors” is essential, and Geringer thinks that CQS was previously hampered by trying to cover the US market from London – just as GLG was before hiring her. Founder Sir Michael Hintze’s visits with investors are “of vital importance”, and he has come to the US regularly, meeting consultants, presenting at conferences, spending time with foundations, and getting to know all the key people. “You need to show them you are an alive and breathing individual” is how Geringer sums up why face-to-face meetings matter.
The second element of success has been tactically juggling calendars and schedules to ensure that all clients are visited regularly. Geringer again emphasises the importance of “getting in front of clients personally and physically on a regular basis” and says she is on the road every week, and expects the same from colleagues. Each member of the marketing team is designated territories to carry out good old-fashioned listening, building friendships and relationships – one by one, meeting by meeting and city by city – to let clients know that they have a voice into the organisation. Client complaints that Geringer will not tolerate include “No one calls me back”, “I don’t like dealing with the marketer” and “They don’t know I exist”.
Risk reporting is one area where CQS offers investors a wide and empathetic menu. CQS works with standardised solutions such as Albourne’s OPERA transparency initative, which she describes as “fantastic for the industry in providing consistent reporting across funds”. In addition, CQS feeds data into commercial risk aggregation and reporting packages such as MSCI RiskMetrics HedgePlatform and MSCI InterSight (Measurisk) to allow clients to explore fund risk. If clients need different types of granularity, reports can be tailored to specific needs, and CQS has the breadth and institutional infrastructure to offer such enhanced reporting. So far the culture of openness and transparency has satisfied client requests.
On women in finance, Geringer thinks, “It is a highly dynamic, highly interesting industry where it’s important to dedicate yourself 100% to the job”. Hedge funds have been “very exciting for women focused on performance and meeting client needs,” and in this meritocracy “it does not matter who you are; highly dedicated, motivated, bright and focused people can be successful at hedge funds,” as the industry values you for your contribution. Geringer cherishes the chances she has had to forge “some incredibly interesting relationships with very senior women, both competitors and the broader institutional investor base”. Since there are still relatively few women at the highest levels, Geringer feels there is a strong sense of affiliation amongst them.
She also has a powerful affinity with Sir Michael Hintze, partly because they both did military service – his was in the Australian army. These formative years provided the inspiration for Geringer’s philanthropic activity as a board member of NGS (No Greater Sacrifice Foundation), of which Hintze is very supportive. This US charity gives scholarships to the children of killed or severely injured service men and women, allowing these youngsters to benefit from a US university education. The aspiration is to provide recognition for the significant numbers who have served in the military – often with distinction – and ensure that future generations of those who served have the same opportunities as their forebears. Geringer goes further and hopes that some of them may be hired into the hedge fund industry. CQS is, after all, constantly searching for talented people, men and women alike.
• Holds a BS from the United States Naval Academy.
• MBA from Columbia Business School.
• A Principal of CQS.
• Head of Marketing for the Americas at CQS in New York.
• Co-head of marketing for North America at GLG Partners until 2010.
• Senior vice president at Pequot Capital Management responsible for marketing to institutions in North America.
• Vice president at Credit Suisse First Boston and a member of their capital introductions team. She joined CSFB in 2001 as a coverage salesperson in the equities division where she focused primarily on hedge funds.
• Before that, a member of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette’s Private Fund Group where she was responsible for analysing and marketing private equity funds.
• Served for four years as an Intelligence Officer in the United States Navy, where she attained the rank of Lieutenant.
• Board member of NGS, the No Greater Sacrifice Foundation, supporting the education of children of fallen or wounded soldiers.