for Hedge Funds or Low-Rent Telemarketing Service? Cold-Calling Firm Murano Connect Has Many Fans, but Just as Many Detractors.

It’s power hour on Piccadilly.

For the two dozen or so 20-somethings at the London office of Murano Connect, power hour means no emails, no microwaving lunch — just dialing. These young staffers work shifts, and they’re calling up pension funds in Missouri, rich families in Hong Kong, Native American tribes — anyone with serious money and a phone number. They want information: Where are you looking to put assets? What kinds of money managers do you like? What size checks do you write?

But mostly, Murano’s employees just want someone to pick up the phone.

About 100 investment firms — from fledging hedge funds to a $1 trillion-plus behemoth — pay Murano to generate sales leads, effectively outsourcing the initial, and most reviled, phase of fundraising: cold-calling. Murano’s analysts work the phones to gather basic intel on capital allocators, which they write up into reports and pass on to clients most likely to score a sale. Clients pursue the leads from there, and Murano has no direct financial stake in how their leads pan out. Delivering reports is a volume play: more dialing, more chances. And that’s what power hour is all about.

Ravi Kukadia has a better hit rate than most. He tries about 40 or 50 investors on a typical day, gets through to five or ten, and maybe three or four will actually talk to him. Trainee analysts might make 100 calls and come up empty. Monthly bonuses and prizes (“Murano dollars” exchangeable for team activities) help spur the troops in what can be a dispiriting mission, as does the very real threat of getting fired. Turnover is high, the firm’s founder, Ole Rollag, readily admits.

Kukadia is a wizened veteran by Murano standards, having been there for nearly two years. “As you can imagine, I am coming from a slightly older outlook,” he says. “I’m actually 30 years old.”

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