September 6, 2013
Interviewed by: David Snow
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Bringing LPs Together

Since its founding over 10 years ago, ILPA has brought standards to the private equity market and greater education to LPs–accomplishments that have helped the association grow, according to its Executive Director, Kathy Jeramaz-Larson.

Since its founding over 10 years ago, ILPA has brought standards to the private equity market and greater education to LPs–accomplishments that have helped the association grow, according to its Executive Director, Kathy Jeramaz-Larson.

Bringing LPs Together
A Privcap Conversation with Kathy Jeramaz-Larson of the Institutional Limited Partners Association (ILPA)

The ILPA just reached its tenth year as a formal organization. What are some of its top priorities today?

The ILPA has always been the global organization for LPs. There are three things we try to focus on: one is bringing our LPs together so they have an environment to communicate openly and freely. We’ve developed a complete education program from the LP perspective, which has been huge over the last few years. And then we also focus on research and best participants. So those are our three main areas, and lately over the last couple years we had some attention to some – I won’t say advocacy – but more education for various government groups.

What do you think are some of ILPA’s most important achievements to date?

Clearly our ILPA Institute is one of our flagships. We are very proud of that program. It has two parts – both the introductory level that we have. We collaborate with the Chicago Booth School of Business, and that is a very valuable program. On top of that, we’ve created a level 2 which is the mandate, the curriculum, the speakers are chosen, selected, and honed by LPs for LPs. So it’s a very sophisticated program, and we get very, very high compliments on the quality of the instructors, the quality of the program and what our LPs can learn from that.

What impact has the ILPA Principles had?

Obviously when we produced the ILPA principles in 2009, then reintroduced them in 2010, that really had an impact. It really created more awareness of the ILPA around the globe, and I think something that you and I have talked about the board is why we’ve increased our membership as we have. And I think that really brought a lot of attention to the ILPA and therefore spoke to some of the value that we had for other LPs around the world. So that clearly was number one. Out of that came a lot of the requests by GPs and LPs for add-on things, such as our standardized reporting templates. Is there a way to create efficiencies in the market so that GPs and LPs aren’t spending their time trying to figure out what the reporting documents mean.

How has ILPA’s membership grown lately?

I think the LPs, once they’ve spoken to somebody that belongs to the ILPA, another member, they realize how valuable it is to have that network, that communication, access to research. So membership comes from all over the globe. It’s not focused in any one particular area. We’ve got quite a few from North America, the US and Canada. But we have 17% European, and we’re growing in areas like Australia, Middle East, South America. So we are now getting more – and Asia – so lots more from other parts of the globe.

What are some misperceptions that continue to exist about the ILPA?

I’ve been very interested in some of the queries I get. One is a lot of folks think that the ILPA coaches or counsels LPs on how to behave or how to negotiate with GPs. And that’s clearly not our role. We don’t speak for our LPs at all, in fact. Our members are quite sophisticated, and they have their own negotiations and own discussions with their GPs. We’re not even privy to those conversations. They’re confidential conversations. What we do is we offer access to resources, which may help accelerate some of those conversations – so that’s one. I don’t think a lot of folks understand that we work quite a bit with GPs as well. We have an annual GP/LP roundtable and get a lot of counseling from our GPs to sort of give us some guidelines on – or guidance – as to where they would like to see some innovation. So the fact that we actually interact a lot and crossover to the GP side is something that surprises people as well when I … plus a lot of folks don’t comprehend that. They think all we do are the principals, and that is something that is I think new to folks. They don’t realize we have our education programs, and our networking programs, and our research.

Have LPs historically found it challenging to communicate with each other?

I think LPs have always been smart to communicate with each other. I think it has always been difficult to find each other. It’s been one of the roadblocks when at annual meetings, or when in the same location for conferences, there has always been a pattern of getting together, trying to communicate and share notes. The only thing we’ve done is organize some of those meetings. So we have our members’ conferences, but we also do regional meetings around the world. I think we did 13 last year, and were doing 14 this year from Asia, Australia, all across the States, Europe. So I think we just are a facilitator to bring folks together.

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