In discussion with Sylvain Gareau, Vice President, at Desjardins, the leading cooperative financial group in Canada, Mark Benedetti and Vladimir Colas, Co-Heads of Ardian US, and Lucas Coleon, Director at Ardian
Sylvain Gareau: We have historically been an investor in many of Ardian’s activities including Secondary Fund of Funds, Buyout, Expansion and Infrastructure. In addition, we have had a Primary Mandate in place with you since 2013, to which we have committed a total of $180m through three series. The main reasons we decided to set up the Mandate was that we wanted exposure to North American mid-cap managers and the Ardian Fund of Funds platform gave us access to the best GPs in that market. This is clearly the best solution for a small team like ours because we get all of the benefits of Ardian’s scale in terms of access, information and analysis. Ardian already has relationships with the top names in the industry and has great visibility on which GPs will raise money, when, and what their historic performance has been. It would be impossible for us to track the market with this level of detail on our own and get access to these managers as a first time investor.
Ardian: Our coverage of the North American market is very deep, for sure. We grew from 20 to 25 people in the US Fund of Funds team last year and we will be adding more in 2019, which means we can track hundreds of funds every quarter. Our Secondary business depends on us building very detailed quarterly estimates for each underlying company in those funds. That level of market analysis is an advantage we can share with our Mandate clients to help them achieve their objectives.
S.G.: Ardian essentially acts as an advisor to us: you select the best funds that match our objectives and we retain the right to make the final call if needed. Although, we trust your judgment because you have a lot of expertise in this market and an excellent track record. As a smaller team trying to access a market like this one, where you need deep knowledge because the landscape is constantly evolving, it’s essential to build a really strong partnership like the one we have with Ardian. We know that we are getting impartial advice from you at all times.
Ardian: We always say that we want to be an open book to our clients. We gather a huge amount of data and market intelligence and we share it because it strengthens our relationships and shows that we are committed to supporting them for the long term. It also gives us the ability to accompany our clients as their needs or strategy evolve over time.
S.G.: That has definitely been our experience as well. Your team regularly shares a lot of very detailed information with us about the market and our portfolio and that has been the key to the trusting relationship we’ve built with Ardian. It’s very different to what we have experienced with other managers. Ardian’s openness and client servicing is far from typical. We are currently looking to expand the mandates to GPs in Europe and Asia and we are certain that Ardian will already have the capabilities in place to offer us the same level of advice in these geographies.
Ardian: It’s a two-way street. Being in constant communication helps us understand your needs better which gives us the capacity to share even more relevant advice. Our teams are also in contact at several different levels of our respective organizations in order to keep the dialog active and to facilitate our integration within your process.
S.G.: That’s an aspect of the relationship that really works for us too. We now have access to lots of people within Ardian, not just our contact on the team actually running our Mandate. If we want to discuss our global strategy in infrastructure we can speak directly to Mathias Burghardt, for example, or we can speak to Benoît Verbrugghe when we need to. So I would say the overall level of service we receive is excellent. Ardian’s monitoring is top quartile: the information is well structured and organized and it’s bespoke to our requirements. We like the fact that we receive not only very detailed quarterly reporting on every underlying company in our funds, but also market trend analysis which is very useful, especially for a small team like ours.