In this discussion, we take a look at the more intangible dimensions of capital call lines – characteristics that can be valuable to private funds when selecting a banking partner.
Choosing the Right Capital Call Line Provider
Beyond the term sheet, banks offer clear-cut differences to private funds. In our experience, these are the five factors that have separated the banks in this market over time:
1. Experienced and Specialized Team
The banking professionals who originate and underwrite capital call lines range from industry experts to industry newcomers. The capital call line has been around for several decades, but industry data suggests that is has gained substantially in popularity since around 2010. Though this industry data is limited, it shows a higher usage trend among more recent fund vintages – in the current market, the majority of funds rely on capital call lines for efficient deal execution. Higher demand, as in any industry, attracts new suppliers – a key driver of the range of market experience (or inexperience) that funds will find among bankers.
2. Technology Investment
Tech continues to evolve at a rapid clip in the banking industry, but not all banks have made the investment to keep pace. For many private funds, the capital call line is just one of the product offerings they’re using at a bank – so the tech investment is a relevant point not only for their credit facility, but for treasury management and other functions as well. Leading banks enable their business customers to adopt digital payment and cash management processes that power remote work productivity, improved security measures, and working capital optimization efforts. Solutions that automate accounts payable and cash collection while mitigating payment fraud risk—drastically heightened in today’s environment—are critical for the modern business to thrive.
3. Solutions-Oriented Approach
Bank platforms vary widely, which also means that they are not equally equipped to provide private funds with customized and flexible solutions (as opposed to one-off bank products). Teams operating from broader platforms should have the ability to recognize a variety of client needs, and then offer solutions to the client. Examples beyond the subscription facility itself include financing solutions for portfolio companies, loan syndications and capital markets, and Integrated Payables for streamlining the distribution process.
4. Service Standards
In a competitively priced field like banking, cost-cutting can significantly erode service standards. The banker-to-client ratio is not standard throughout the industry, nor is the culture of service standards from one bank to the next. The value of service doesn’t show up in the term-sheet process; it’s an intangible that surfaces later, when a fund needs responsiveness and reliability from its banking partner.
In true commodity transactions, there is no need for relationships; price and availability are the primary value drivers. But in the world of private funds, strong banking relationships can be extremely important, and can lead to deal referrals, investor referrals, even talent referrals. These touchpoints can be part of the bank/fund interaction, but only if a bank cultivates the partnership as a relationship rather than a commodity transaction.
Picking a Promising Partner
For fund managers in the process of evaluating subscription facility providers, the above characteristics can serve as a checklist. Managers are likely to derive more value from selecting a comprehensive banking partner, rather than focusing on term sheet metrics alone.
- Robust and intuitive technology
- Relevant capabilities beyond credit
- Superior service
- Culture of building relationships