Managing the portfolio

In the first instalment of this three-part series, we shared insights from the Australian Investment Council Champions of Change leaders on the COVID-19 forced rapid adoption of remote working practices within their firms. This second instalment provides insights on how the Champions of Change have managed their portfolio companies and made investments while working remotely and reinforces the message that flexible working practices are here to stay. It also highlights how a diverse team helps foster a culture of innovation and equips private capital firms in managing challenges in creative ways.

Early in the pandemic, a survey of Australian Investment Council members cited the inability to travel because of COVID-19 as the main hurdle for doing business and securing new investments. However, views on travel restrictions have changed over the past few months. Quadrant Growth Fund’s managing partner, Justin Ryan says “At the start of this, people thought we wouldn’t be able to do acquisitions, but that’s not true.”

This shift has come about from the realisation that face-to-face is no longer critical. The Champions of Change have developed deeper relationships with their portfolio companies during their response to the crisis by finding new ways to work together remotely to develop new strategies and strengthen their balance sheets. Adamantem Capital’s managing director, Rob Koczkar says “We now have a richer, more connected and focussed set of conversations, informed by real-time data.”

Whilst COVID has undoubtedly had a devastating effect on some businesses and portfolio companies, it has delivered portfolio performance beyond expectations for others. Allegro Funds’ founding partner Chester Moynihan says “The portfolio performance is above where we thought it would be pre-crisis.”

Mr Ryan says “COVID has seen a positive effect on our portfolio. We raised capital in March, invested mostly in online businesses and most of them have benefited.” Ryan cited the portfolio’s two latest additions, cloud marketer Arq Group and smartphone mounting designer Quad Lock. And, highlighted that the Quad Lock purchase was done with limited access to management and without the ability to visit its plants in China.

The Champions of Change have had an innovative response to the pandemic with their portfolio companies. OneVentures' co-founder and venture partner, Anne-Marie Birkill said that “OneVentures' portfolio companies had proven their ability to adapt and find creative ways to manage challenges”.

All the Champions of Change leaders strongly believe their foundations in diversity are helping them weather the storm of the pandemic. As diversity is a key driver of innovation, essential for growth. The diverse perspectives of a team ensure innovative thinking and well-tested, robust ideas. Ms Birkill says that “While companies in our portfolio prioritise skills and experience in recruiting, they are cognisant that a workforce, executive and board of directors with diverse views and experience will help drive performance”.

More and more private capital firms are realising the benefits of diversity to strengthen their teams and decision-making processes. Ms Birkill says “I’m encouraged to see that emerging, and future leaders are seeking out diversity. The practise of ‘recruiting in their own mould’ rightly belongs to another era.”

To learn more about the Australian Investment Council’s diversity work visit And, stay tuned for the final article in this three-part series on how the Champions of Change have been raising capital and selling assets while working remotely during the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

You can read the third instalment of this three-part series here.