Is it capital? Creative thinking? Brilliant investment strategies? Or something else entirely?
While all of those things are important to every hedge fund manager, there might be one thing they need more: a strong community.
“Whether they’re aspiring or successful hedge fund managers, I think we all need a network and a community, such as 100WHF, to learn from each other and share ideas, no matter what stage your business is in,” Mary Beth Hamilton, the Marketing Chair for 100 Women in Hedge Funds Boston Conference, told StreetID.
“100WHF is a community of like-minded individuals,” adds Amanda Pullinger, the Executive Director of 100 Women in Hedge Funds. “I think to some extent we created a safe haven for people who were dealing with volatility in many, many different ways. Some of our biggest growth years as an organization came during these difficult times. I think that’s a testament that we really are providing something that people in the location didn’t have before.”
Hamilton said that hedge funds tend to be “somewhat fragmented, where there are a lot of smaller or medium-sized firms.”
“What we have in groups like 100 Women in Hedge Funds is a chance to come together and learn from each other,” Hamilton explained. “We put on educational events that perhaps wouldn’t happen within the structure of a hedge fund firm itself.”
“And it’s a community locally, but increasingly our members are traveling from one location to another, and are able to join 100 Women in Hedge Funds events and meet up with other members,” Pullinger continued. “We have an online web site called target=”_blank”>100 Women in Hedge Funds Connect. And we really encourage people to search the database there and look for people in a location they’re traveling to. It’s a place where you know you’re going to walk into the event and it’s going to be an interesting topic, there are going to be interesting people, and you’re not going to waste your time by going.”
Supporting the Cause
100 Women in Hedge Funds wasn’t born out of nothing. There were several generous women who are responsible for helping the organization become what it is today.
“When we first started the organization, we were completely volunteers,” said Pullinger. “But very quickly we realized that we needed to set up some legal structures and some governing processes, so the founding board of the organization needed to be developed so we could have some structure around what we were doing from a legal standpoint. But at the time we weren’t charging for events. We weren’t charging an access fee or a membership due. But we needed certain costs met in terms of setting up these legal structures and the web site costs and things.”
This inspired 100 Women in Hedge Funds organizers to reach out to its most senior members in what Pullinger refers to as an “experiment.”
“They really came through for us,” Pullinger boasted. “We asked if our senior members could donate $1,000 each. We could use that money to really take the organization to the next level and set up a legal structure and have some cushion in terms of the end-of-the-line costs of the organization, which were very small at the time.”
100 Women in Hedge Funds ultimately received donations from roughly 60 women, each of which provided the organization with $1,000. “We called them our Charter Angels, the notion being that they are angel investors in 100 Women in Hedge Funds,” Pullinger explained. “And Charter Angels have a very special place in 100 Women in Hedge Funds. They are kind of revered by the organization because they really did give back at a time when we needed their financial support.”
Due to the success of the Charter Angels program, Pullinger said that 100 Women in Hedge Funds decided to develop the Sustaining Angels program. “These are angels that give in any particular calendar year $1,000 or more,” said Pullinger, adding that the donations help the organization ensure its financial sustainability as it grows globally. “We’ve been able to build â€¦ not a large infrastructureâ€”it’s basically myself and I have two part-time employees that are the paid components of 100 Women in Hedge Funds. It’s not like we’ve built a huge staff. But we have enough resources financially now that we can do things that we need to do when we need to do them. That’s the angels. And we’re continually seeing new senior practitioners that want to sign up as angels.”
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