NAIC and the Toigo Foundation are teaming up to accelerate the entry of people of color and women into the private equity industry.
The Toigo Foundation is an organization many firms and business associations have known for years as a partner to industry and the source of some of the nation’s brightest young minority men and women now working in all sectors of the industry.
Today, the program proudly represents nearly 1,000 alumni who are pursuing careers with top financial services firms, serving as leaders with key institutional investors and launching their entrepreneurial businesses as our newest generation of emerging managers.
The National Association of Investment Companies (NAIC) has had a longstanding relationship as one of Toigo’s strongest supporters. Last fall, with NAIC’s recognition of Toigo at its 40th Anniversary Gala and the foundation’s launch of the Toigo Institute, designed to reach an even broader base of minority finance professionals, NAIC President Samuel J. Boyd Jr. Began exploring the positive impact of building a more formal collaboration between the organizations. “We want a structured engagement with Toigo,” Boyd said.
For minority financial professionals just starting their careers, bridging the gap from business school to the private equity sector can be daunting. Boyd believed a more strategic NAIC/Toigo Institute partnership could create an important resource that supports the ongoing education of Toigo Alumni and an opportunity to host collaborative events that bring major finance industry players together (institutional investors, private equity firms, plan sponsors) in relaxed symposia settings. The goal of the industry events would be to foster interaction, nurture relationships and discuss strategies for increasing access and inclusion in the sector — core objectives of both organizations.
“Each organization has been a tremendous resource for the other,” Boyd added. Future programs developed as a result of the NAIC/Toigo collaboration can serve as the bridge from graduate school to Wall Street, the Silicon Valley, the Chicago Financial District and all points in between.
Investing in Diversity
In the last two decades, the Toigo Fellowship has fostered the aspirations of young people of color looking to serve their communities as leaders within finance. A recent Bloomberg Businessweek analysis showed that even though minority enrollment in full-time MBA programs has increased on some campuses, there is plenty of room for improvement on campuses across the country. Increasing minority representation at graduate business schools is the Toigo Foundation’s first point of engagement. With the Toigo MBA Fellowship, the Foundation plays a key role in the recruitment and diversity initiatives of many Wall Street firms. Today, Toigo Fellows can be found in the conference rooms of financial powerhouses like The Carlyle Group, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, UBS and dozens of others.
Toigo Fellows are often called upon by the NAIC to participate in plenary sessions and panel discussions at the annual conference. “The NAIC has continued to extend its generosity by allowing Toigo fellows to participate in the annual conference,” says Nancy Sims, president and CEO of the Toigo Foundation.
NAIC also has drawn upon the talents of Toigo Fellows as writers and researchers for various NAIC-sponsored publications.Several NAIC member firms are active in the mentoring programs provided to Toigo fellows.Expanding the partnership between the NAIC and Toigo seems, as Boyd says, “A natural fit.”
In 2009, Toigo set its sights on the inner circle of private equity by creating a post-graduate fellowship program which provides MBA graduates with entrée into the sector, a virtual classroom and networking events.In a three-part rotation, each Toigo Private Equity MBA Graduate Fellow has the opportunity to spend six months at a leading private equity firm, three months with an institutional investor and, finally, three months at a portfolio company.
“The rotational structure of the post-graduate Fellowship provides an unparalleled experience for a young professional to gain a 360 view of the investment process within the PE sector,” Sims says. “The Toigo Private Equity MBA Graduate Fellowship provides a one-year stipend plus a tuition-relief bonus. In addition to The Carlyle Group, NAIC member firms Vista Equity Partners and Palladium Equity Partners have committed to participating in the program.
Nurturing Entrepreneurial Talent
While the Toigo Foundation is largely known for its student-focused programs, the formation of the Toigo Institute for Leadership Excellence Advancement and Diversity announced in 2010 ensures the nonprofits efforts reach and influence a broader base of minority leaders.
One of the first Toigo Institute initiatives is aimed at building a support program for emerging entrepreneurs. The Toigo Bridge to Business program enables the foundation to provide start-up capital to selected entrepreneurs who have presented a comprehensive business plan outlining their product, targeted line of business, growth potential and the risk factors involved. The selected entrepreneurs will also gain access to Toigo’s knowledge brokers and a diversified set of industry mentors. In the initial year (2011), funding will be available to Toigo Alumni entrepreneurs, with ongoing education and networking programs benefitting a broader base of minority and women entrepreneurs.
“As an offering of the Toigo Institute, Bridge to Business addresses Toigo’s continued investment in our talent and their entrepreneurial aspirations. It furthers our agenda to support the creation of future emerging managers for our industry. Providing financial and intellectual capital as well as coaching and counsel is more important than ever,” Sims says.
The innovative program will draw on the expertise of practitioners, academics and investors to ensure an objective and effective process for evaluating and selecting “Toigo Entrepreneurs.” We hope to engage several participants in the program over the next two to three years.
The NAIC/Toigo alliance will provide education and resources to Toigo Bridge to Business applicants and other minorities poised to launch new ventures.“Taking part in the learning and networking experiences Toigo entrepreneurs will have, directly aligns with NAIC’s goal to be an active participant in the promotion of new women and minority-owned businesses” Boyd adds.
While there is no formalized arrangement or contractual agreement between the two organizations, the synergies are clear and strong enthusiasm shared. “With several overlapping constituencies and complementary missions, together we can introduce high value-add programs and activities to our mutual member base,” Boyd noted.
This spring, the Toigo Institute and NAIC cohosted their inaugural joint venture: a symposium titled “Pension Funds Investment into Private Equity — Lessons Learned, Best Practices and Models of Innovation.” The symposium featured Professor Josh Lerner of the Harvard Business School. Lerner led an interactive discussion with a distinguished panel of institutional investors and examined how pension funds can drive innovation in entrepreneurship through investments.
“By leveraging our relationship, we hope to strengthen our efforts in touching the industry with education, networking and exchange on topics of relevance to our private equity investment community” Boyd says. EDM