Idiotic Management: AXA Strategic Ventures

AXA Strategic Ventures: Least responsive corporate venturing start up. AXA, the French insurer announced with great fanfare in late February the formation of AXA Strategic Ventures. The intent being to invest in companies with the potential to shape the future of the financial industry. This is a highly competitive arena with billions of dollars being injected into early and mid-stage growth businesses by large organisations (Citi, HSBC, USAA, BBVA, Google, Intel and so on).

I brought to AXA’s attention an investment opportunity in an early-stage growth client of mine, which I reasonably felt might have a high potential fit with their publicly stated investment parameters. The General Partner responded with interest within 48 hours requesting a brief synopsis that was sent by return. Over a period of 3.5 weeks 5 offers of a “get to know you” call and an understanding of their interest went unanswered. Finally, a junior analyst responded with a polite but curt “no interest, please keep in touch”.

This is a well-staffed global organisation with a full complement of investment experts, business development and other resources. Why in the world do they think any discerning adviser or client is going to come knocking on their door when their more seasoned competitors provide a dramatically warmer welcome? How difficult is it for management to figure out that they need to proactively communicate in order to build a stronger brand and a point of differentiation with established competitors? It helps that management are exemplars for the desired behaviour and hold their subordinates to account.

© James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.


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