We recently shared the announcement of Hamilton Lane’s pending acquisition of 361 Capital. With this exciting news, we thought we’d use a few of our upcoming blogs for Q&As with Hamilton Lane to learn more about their company, its philosophy, and its products.
This week we are talking to Hamilton Lane’s Vice Chairman and Head of Strategic Initiatives, Erik Hirsch, getting to know the company, its culture, and its history.
Question: What is Hamilton Lane best known for?
Erik: We are best known for being a private markets solutions provider. One of Hamilton Lane’s key strategic objectives is helping to democratize access to the private markets, working with investors of all different shapes and sizes around the globe, helping them build out their portfolios and manage their investment needs to accomplish their goals as it relates to the private market asset class. We do that by leveraging a highly client-centric approach, an expansive global footprint and platform, and an unrelenting focus on data and technology.
Question: Tell us about your business lines. What’s the largest part of your business?
Erik: Because we’re a solutions provider, we provide a variety of services to ensure we’re catering to the needs of clients who all come to us desiring different things. Our clients can work with us in a number of ways – through our commingled product solutions, our customized separate accounts, our advisory business, by utilizing our data and reporting offerings, or through our distribution management services. Of all of those offerings, our separate accounts and specialized fund business comprise the largest part of our business.
Question: How did Hamilton Lane get its name?
Erik: When Hamilton Lane first launched in 1991, the founders were very focused on institutionalizing the firm rather than branding it around any one individual or personality. As a result, the name “Hamilton Lane” derived from a combination of the streets on which the early employees lived. Funnily enough, we still get calls from people asking to speak with Mr. Hamilton or Ms. Lane.
Question: Culture is important to Hamilton Lane. What can you tell us about the firm’s culture and how its love of music fits into that?
Erik: Our culture is one of collaboration, excellence and teamwork. What we do truly takes a team effort. When you think about investing in the private markets, it has so many different aspects to it: Strategic planning, investment selection, investment tracking, performance metrics, technology considerations, and negotiating advantageous legal arrangements for our clients. All of that requires a variety of people bringing a lot of complementary skillsets and a desire to work together to achieve a common outcome. Across the organizations, we share a philosophy that we’re all in this together; we’re really oriented around a one-firm mindset and a shared commitment as to why we do what we do – and that’s to help the beneficiaries of our clients live better and more secure futures. We’re also passionate. I think one of the hallmarks of a great firm is that you just have a lot of people who are very passionate about what they do. We’re really passionate about striving to deliver superior investment performance and a great customer experience to our clients.
On a more personal level, one of the themes that runs throughout the firm is a love of music. Music has been part of our fabric and culture since the very beginning. Mario, myself, and several of us who have been at the firm for a long time are lovers of music, and we recognized music as having a unique and special way of creating connections and experiences. Music gives people the ability to speak in the same language, to lift up and to unite. Plus, music is very mathematical, so I don’t think it’s surprising that it resonates with a finance firm.
Anyone walking the halls of our HQ would immediately notice the connection to music – our conference rooms are all music-themed, and one even had musical wallpaper. Several years ago, we formed The Hamiltones – our company band. Throughout the pandemic, The Hamiltones have continued to perform (over Zoom, of course) and share our performances through our #HLentertainment channel on Slack.
Question: Who are your clients? What areas are your clients most invested in? How has that changed over the last 10 years?
Erik: Today, our clients and investors really run the gamut from retail investors to some of the biggest sovereign wealth funds in the world and everything in between. We’re really proud that we’ve built a firm capable of delivering what we believe to be a terrific client experience and investment results to clients of all shapes, sizes and experience levels. Some clients come to us seeking a broad exposure to the private markets. Others come to us seeking a particular targeted niche approach – whether it’s solely venture capital or only focusing on a particular geography or a single sector. The bottom line is we can build large, diversified portfolios or niche portfolios, and we do it for clients whose asset allocations range from the tens of thousands to the tens of billions. I believe that speaks volumes to the flexible and customizable approach we’ve built over the past nearly 30 years, where we’re able of working with all types of customers to ensure we’re meeting their unique investment objectives.
What’s changed over time is that our client base has broadened. If you look back 20 years ago, our client base was disproportionately pension funds. Today that’s simply not the case. Retail investors, family offices, foundations, endowments, corporations, banks, government entities – our world has just become more diversified as more and more people recognize and see the benefits of participating in the private markets.
Question: As of 12/31/20, Hamilton Lane has over 440 employees at 17 locations around the world. How many different languages are spoken at Hamilton Lane?
Erik: Communicating with our clients in their own language and understanding their culture further supports our goal of delivering exceptional client service. That is why across our employee base, we currently speak 27 languages – 28, if you count music!
Question: What are your assets under management and the breakdown between discretionary assets under management and assets under advisory?
Erik: As of 12/31/20, we have about $657B of assets under management and advisement, with approximately $76B in discretionary capital and another $581B in advisory assets. We are consistently one of the largest investors and allocators of private markets capital in the world, having deployed approximately $57 billion in 2019 and 2020 combined, as of 12/31/2020.*
Ask Your Questions: Send your questions on private markets or our upcoming transition to Hamilton Lane to email@example.com and it may be featured in a future blog.
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