About Thalēs and Edouard Robbes
Thalēs is a technology-enabled high-touch capital-raising firm servicing institutional market participants. Its team comprises practitioners joining from senior roles in investment management, prime brokerage, capital raising, and technology. Its clients include some of the largest and most active institutional investors in alternative investments and managers across the remit of strategies in public and private markets. Founded in 2012, Thalēs is headquartered in New York and has offices in Chicago and Oslo.
With a background in economics, hedge fund allocation, and prime brokerage, Edouard Robbes joined Thalēs at its inception and is a Partner leading the firm's manager sourcing, capital introduction, and capital raising efforts. Passionate about technology, Edouard is often seen trying out new apps and testing new workflow automations with as much interest as he has competing with his children playing 8-bit video games. He also collects pieces at the intersection of art and technology, ranging from data visualization NFTs to ancient artifacts as part of his cabinet of curiosities.
Before using Venn, Thalēs relied on scattered, high-maintenance, and non-collaborative tools to perform quantitative manager due diligence. Processing performance information from multiple sources (e.g., hedge fund databases, factsheets, spreadsheets), maintaining a proprietary risk factors warehouse, and running analysis had become a convoluted process involving too many moving parts. The Thalēs team needed a platform to streamline the quantitative due diligence process, analyze managers across strategies within a uniform framework, and gain deeper insights into the risk and return drivers of hedge funds and other alternative investments. Lacking such a platform hindered their ability to promptly make informed manager selection decisions.
As placements agents, Thalēs needed a portfolio intelligence platform like Venn to identify, evaluate, and monitor managers rigorously, help develop compelling narratives for managers rooted in quantitative insights, and to interface with sophisticated investors increasingly relying on factor frameworks.
Streamlining Quantitative Evaluation
As a firm focused on raising capital, we continuously scour the world in search of orthogonal investment opportunities that have the potential to attract institutional assets. Venn streamlined our quantitative evaluation process, allowing us to do more in less time, evaluate risk and return drivers more accurately, and make decisions with greater confidence. Its intuitive factor-based risk approach saves us from bogging down in python scripts, spreadsheets, and intense manual work.
Developing Compelling Narratives
While our primary role as placement agents is to raise capital for hedge funds, our journey often starts with recrafting narratives to help our hedge fund clients better articulate their value proposition to investors. While pedigree, process, and performance are critical, demonstrating skills and key differentiators through quantitative insights translates to more compelling narratives. Venn greatly enhanced our ability to derive such insights, and often, managers we work with have learned something new about their strategies.
Sharing Quantitative Insights
Finally, we work with investors to understand their mandates and searches, match them with managers who can satisfy their requirements, and streamline their discovery process. Using Venn allows us to speak the factor language many investors are fluent in, leading to more meaningful conversations. Our ability to go beyond the pitch book and to quantitatively answer questions or demonstrate a manager's unique attributes has, in turn, increased our credibility with investors and deepened our access.
Results and What’s Next
While the Thalēs team has been involved in the capital introduction business at various prime brokers for over 40 years, they are a new placement agent, having launched their capital raising business in 2018. Robbes explains “we have been fortunate to partner with thought leading investors and innovative managers and have been humbled by the results translating to billions of asset flows over a short time. We aspire to become one of the most active placement agents in hedge funds and across alternative strategies.”
To get there, Thalēs’ plan is to continue to refine their approach, develop their platform to attract the best capital-raising talent, and create new ways for managers to transcend the traditional LP/GP relationships through knowledge transfers and digital tools. Robbes concludes, “While we respect the traditions of the past, we are firm believers in leveraging technology to augment intelligence. As we continue on our journey, Venn will be a valuable part of our stack.”
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