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The Ricks Consulting Group serves and advises hedge funds, private equity funds and sovereign wealth funds on talent acquisition that helps maximize portfolio optimization.
Dee Dee Ricks has focused exclusively on identifying new business opportunities and recruiting senior level talent to build strategies within the hedge fund industry, conducting searches for various positions across a variety of investment strategies.
MO: What inspired you to launch The Ricks Consulting Group instead of working for an established firm? What separates you from the competition?
Dee Dee: In 1994, I was working for the leading search firm in the world, Korn/Ferry. I was 24 at the time. I realized I would have to work five to ten years to make partner. I took a leap of faith, started my own firm, mainly because I couldn’t wait out the time to reap the financial rewards. I knew I could everything partners were doing when I began my business.
MO: How has the hedge fund landscape changed since you launched your firm back in 1994?
Dee Dee: We’ve had several cycles (aka market crashes) since starting the firm. In 1997, my largest client almost went under from the Long Term Capital collapse. We had to reposition our expertise. In the early 2000s, we were hired to do specific strategy development. After 2008, we are now looking for top PMs/top funds to acquire (think of it as a sports agent-Jerry Maguire-the best athlete possible).
MO: Have you experienced any particular advantages or disadvantages as a power player in what tends to be a predominantly male industry?
Dee Dee: Definitely advantages. When closing a deal, you are dealing with what often defines a PM (personally and professionally). I think portfolio managers tend to trust women more. That said, they won’t work with you unless you are knowledgeable. My teams/funds know that I structure some of the most complicated deals on the street. Plus, often the wives become a part of the equation. We are able to work effectively with them as well.
MO: As someone with more than 20 years combined experience as both internal and external recruiters for top multi-strategy firms, what advice would you give to recruitment managers to ensure that they attract and secure the top talent?
Dee Dee: Know your expertise, don’t deviate. Also, don’t shove a position down a candidate’s throat. Get to know what they are looking for, if you don’t have an opportunity for them, BE HONEST. Also, we have a strong policy of showing one candidate to one client at a time. Yes, we lose deals but we never want to be in a position where our clients are competing against each other.
MO: Can you expand on how a breast cancer diagnosis inspired you to become a champion for the uninsured and underinsured?
Dee Dee: I had the means to fight the disease, even then, at times, it seemed insurmountable. I began thinking “what does a woman do that is poor?” I knew there was no better cause for me. Someone once asked me where I acquired my sense of social justice. I am a product of that environment. Giving back to those most in need is where my heart lies.
MO: Can you talk about the process of successfully lobbying Congress to get the Patient Navigation Act reinstated and what that success meant to you?
Dee Dee: While we are at the beginning stages of The Patient Navigation Assistance Act of 2012 (it went to the floor on September 21, 2012), it was a huge win for those on Medicaid and Patient Navigation. Many politicians are not even aware of what Patient Navigation is and we spend a significant amount of time educating them. I’ve been able to secure meetings with various congressmen and senators because of my background in hedge funds. They are trying to demystify what hedge funds do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told a politician “Hedge Funds are simple, you get paid for performance. If you don’t perform, then you are out or investors leave.”
MO: Can you expand on the art of identifying new business opportunities? What resources or strategies do you use? How much do you rely on intuition?
Dee Dee: We use our most valuable resources, our talent and our clients. We listen to their views of the market place and form a consensus of market direction. We are currently making a huge play on the pan-european region. That stemmed from the mass exodus of banks from proprietary trading and firms needing to have some form of macro overlay to all strategies.