Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Industry Thoughts | ACG And Lobbying

UPDATE: This post got mentioned in Dan Primack's The Term Sheet!! Thanks so much, Dan!!

NOTE: I know, I said I wouldn't write any more pieces in 2010, but this post was absolutely necessary.

After a brief chat with Dan Primack (of Fortune and PEHub fame), I learned that a few years ago in Boston during a keynote, he discussed the opportunity for ACG (the Association for Corporate Growth, the largest and well-known middle market private equity community organization) to start a lobbying arm.
The global organization now has more than 13,000 members and has been making a strong effort to recruit young professionals (e.g., the New York chapter's Young Professionals events always get a good crowd, including myself), so why wouldn't this work? Dan told me that some ACG professionals in Boston were taking the idea pretty seriously, but here we are a few years later and nothing's happened.

I mentioned in my very first post here that the PEGCC can't keep going on with white papers full of typos and incorrect data. It's a matter of time before Congress takes a deeper look at private equity and focuses on operations and not just on the carried interest debacle. The banking industry's lobbying arms have learned how to manage tough political attacks, and I'm concerned that the private equity industry will have no strategy whatsoever when attacks come to their front.

That being said, here's why ACG should seriously consider a lobbying arm:
  • Community: I already mentioned it earlier, but having a powerful member base will help with support, data, and talent to help push the effort.
  • Star Power: Besides having powerful executives that have had exposures to politics, private equity has a rather, well, prominent sports figure who has provided a positive view on private equity. That man is Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young. (Thank you Rich Lawson, Co-Founder and MD at Huntsman Gay, for the CNBC link!)
  • Marketing: ACG's e-mail newsletters are well-written and easy to find any ACG-specific information. There easily is room for adding a division about lobbying efforts and news.
  • M&A: ACG's main publication, Mergers & Acquisitions, also has its own subscriber and member base, which can provide more marketing help, advice, and data to stronger lobbying efforts.
Thus, there's very little risk to building a lobbying arm. I hope members of ACG are reading this, because we really don't know when private equity will come back into Congress's sights.

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