3 Key Skills for Emerging Markets and Alternative Investment

Image: Johannesburg, South Africa

Over recent years we have seen a number of professionals moving from developed or mature markets to emerging markets. The popularity of this career switch is often caused by a desire for something more than just financial returns or the aim to diversify their career. 

As an Investment Recruitment Consultant, I’ve helped several people make the move from developed to emerging markets, ranging from C-Suit down to Junior level. Through my experience I’ve noticed 3 key attributes that are often seen as essential for a Career in Emerging Markets and Alternative Investment, which I will be sharing in this article.

Why are professionals moving from Developed markets to Emerging?

First let’s talk about the most common reason professional look to pivot from developed or mature markets to emerging markets. One of the main reasons for this is a desire for something more than just financial returns. Whether this a greater quality of life for people living in emerging markets or helping to tackle global issues such as climate change.

The second main reason is to diversify their skills. Typically, emerging market firms are relatively lean, and therefore we tend to see a more hands-on approach to every aspect of the transaction life cycle, where it is expected to have exposure from cradle to grave.

If you are attracted by either of these reasons, these are the 3 key attributes that are often seen as essential for a Career in Emerging Markets and Alternative Investment.

  1. Understanding transaction culture

Being able to adapt and embrace other cultures is critical to getting deals to financial close “transactions are more of an art than a skill”. Being able to build a network and leverage that network within different cultures is a key part of working within emerging markets, understanding different Governments procedures, legislation and local framework will allow you to execute deals at a higher capacity.

  1. Jack of all trades

As previously mentioned, a main reason professional pivot into emerging markets is to become a more well-rounded professionals, however this means you need to come in with a general level of exposure to the entire transaction life cycle. Often in larger firms your role may be to just build and analyse models, originate and screen opportunities or structure deals for financial close. When you move into an emerging market firm at a junior level you need to be able to demonstrate that you are willing and able to excel at all aspects. Whilst at a senior level you will need to be able to demonstrate a track record of executing transaction from cradle to grave.

  1. Having Patience

When pivoting to emerging markets it is important to consider factors that aren’t normally present within the developed alternative investment space. These can include Governments, distressed regulators framework, Development Banks and limited scope of mandate. Having patience when both executing and exiting investments will help drive you towards success in emerging markets, as deals can take years to execute and even longer to exit. What’s more, secondary markets are not as mature as developed markets and have limited public offering options, combined with a multitude of unforeseen complications in the execution process. So, it is important to be patient and refer back to the original point, that one of the reasons professionals pivot into emerging markets is there desire or motivation to create more than just financial returns.

To summarise, a professional considering a move from developed markets to emerging markets should look at the above attributes and assess whether this is a productive move for them, abreast looking at their motivations and long-term career objectives. If you are interested in exploring options within emerging markets, then please feel free to reach out to me:

Sam Royle at sroyle@leap29.com

Posted by Sam Royle