fund without impacting the investment choices of the managers.
The closed-end business also supports the basic building block of a successful operation: talent. “It makes the firm much more stable and enables us to recruit individuals who ordinarily wouldn’t come to a smaller firm,” says Maitland. “New York and London are littered with hedge funds that can’t get up to critical mass because they can’t recruit the right talent. If you don’t have the right talent, you can’t generate the appropriate returns and therefore you can’t raise the requisite capital.”
Defining the Field
While Advent Capital markets its capabilities and track record, you won’t find any reference to the company being black-owned in its marketing material. “The reason is very simple,” says Johnson. “We are able to compete on a broader playing field when we are not categorized as a minority manager.” He notes that some organizations have certain allocations for minority managers, but those pools of money tend to be smaller.
What’s more, it’s not just about competing with larger firms for a larger slice of each deal; it’s about making sure that the firm is evaluating opportunities around the world. As Maitland lays it all out, investors who are thinking about investing in auto companies can’t look at just Ford and the like. “You have to see what Toyota is doing to make an intelligent decision,” he says. “We’re in a global economy, so you have to have some appreciation for that.”
And in a business where you’re judged by performance, Advent Capital needs to be where the performance is. Many European markets have outperformed the U.S. market the past several years, and many Asian economies are growing at a faster pace. Says Maitland, “At some point we may consider putting an office in Asia as well.”
In business for a dozen years, Advent Capital is thriving. But unfortunately the complexion of Wall Street is still slow to change. Maitland says a key element is exposure to the industry and the ability to build relationships, which proved so vital in his career. He says there are not enough mentorship opportunities for blacks on Wall Street. “Very often, people are on their own to work their way through this maze,” Maitland says. “It’s unrealistic to think that relationships don’t make a difference. … My contractor is trying to get me to hire his son to do some gardening–relationships make a difference.”
B.E. 100s Flashback
In 1982–the 10th anniversary of BE ‘s ranking of the nation’s largest black-owned businesses–our editors officially identified the best among African American financial institutions. That year, BE selected Cleveland-based First Bank National Association as the Bank of the Year; Illinois Service Federal Savings & Loan Association as the Savings and Loan of the Year; and Atlanta Life Insurance Co. as the Insurance Company of the Year. Over the past 25 years, consolidation of the financial industry and the emergence of black-owned investment banks, asset managers, and private equity firms led our editors to drop our S&L and insurance company rankings. Today, BE selects