Could you provide a brief journey of how you arrived where you are today?
I started my career as an energy analyst with the Department of Trade and Industry in London, managing a high-profile inquiry on the then recently privatized domestic electricity and gas markets. I then joined Robert Fleming Asset Management in London as a business analyst. I joined Eurekahedge as a business development manager six years ago, and was promoted to COO and then CEO from October 2004.
What does your role involve?
Focusing on keeping Eurekahedge and its product suite as the leader in the alternative investment data business space, aggressively growing year-on-year revenues and managing all operations pertaining to Eurekahedge.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
Increasing fund coverage by 200% and revenue by 400% in the 3+ years that I have been Eurekahedge’s CEO. We now maintain a global coverage of 17,000 alternative funds across all strategies and asset classes.
Which of your products/services deliver the best results?
Initially, we had a lot of success with our hedge fund and fund of fund products . As we explored other regions where hedge funds were historically involved in, we unlocked the need to cover new areas which we previously left neglected. It became increasingly apparent that our existing investor clients were struggling to find comprehensive data on Islamic funds, private equity/ venture capital funds and private real estate funds.
It became increasingly apparent that our existing investor clients were struggling to find comprehensive sources of data on Islamic funds, private equity/venture capital funds and private real estate funds.
What are the strengths of your business?
Proprietary data and a strong and valuable client base. We have been in this business for close to seven years now, and have built up a unique network of trusted fund manager relationships, which gives us a quality database . Our clients include some from very private organizations such as family offices, endowments, trusts and sovereign wealth funds to traditional financial services, alternative fund investors and the alternative funds themselves.
People: Eurekahedge has grown from only 10 employees initially to 75 now. Each member has been given the freedom to bring new ideas to our business.
What are the factors contributing to the success of your company?
(a) Market feedback: Eurekahedge does not assume to know what our potential clients want. Actively solving clients’ issues is the key here.
(b) Do not rest on your laurels: With the market constantly changing, we are focused on continually upgrading our products with new features and functionalities as we receive valuable feedback from our clients. We emphasize on listening to our clients and growing our business with them.
(c) Understanding what drives our business: We obsessively focus on maintaining our existing clients, and continually working on and looking for new businesses.
(d) Customer service: We place a strong emphasis on customer service and we reinforce this to all our various teams on a regular basis. Not just with our business development staff but also in our research departments and operational staff. Everyone mucks in enabling a quick turnaround time on queries with pertinent responses.
(e) Early focus on new products and themes: Eurekahedge has had the benefit of starting its alternative fund research with a focus on emerging markets well before they came under the attention of mainstream investors. Our Islamic fund database is a perfect example of such effort.
What are the obstacles faced in running your business today?
One of the main obstacles is collecting information from funds that have no reporting regulatory obligation.
Where do you see the Islamic finance industry, maybe in the next five years?
The Islamic fund industry has grown from being specific to a few countries to now representing close to US$60 billion in invested assets while the Eurekahedge Islamic Fund Database is currently the largest in existence, with information on almost 600 funds. We expect this growth rate to continue over the next five years, and are increasingly seeing Middle East-based investors and financial service providers investing in and working with alternative funds and the demand for quality databases on these products is the highest we have seen.
Name one thing you would like to see change in the world of Islamic finance?
We would like to see more Shariah compliant alternative funds launched in an effort to raise awareness among Islamic investors. There are still virtually no products in this arena due to the difficulties around Shariah compliance and asset raising, although the level of interest has grown dramatically and demand still greatly outweighs supply.
Eurekahedge is the world’s largest independent data provider and research house, dedicated to the collation, development and continuous improvement of alternative investment data.