I’m living the American Dream
I grew up in Pakistan and came to the US for the first time at 17. I arrived alone at JFK airport with two suitcases, $200 and a full scholarship to Franklin & Marshall College. I haven’t looked back since. The talkative van driver from the airport was my first window upon the frenetic pace of the US. I love the energy, friendliness, innovation, and constant change of America. I’ve been so fortunate to have had some incredible opportunities here. I’m living the American Dream.
We leverage 35+ years of intellectual capital
I’ve been at Advent for more than 15 years, the first half of my tenure was on the private equity side. PE is relatively low hit rate – out of every 10 deals we chase, only one or two will come to fruition. Sometimes we get outbid, or perhaps the seller doesn’t want to sell, but in each of those 10 instances we spend an enormous amount of time, energy and resources conducting diligence, meeting management, and talking to industry executives. More than 35 years of doing this in the same five sectors has generated an incredible amount of expertise. Take a sector like payments: Advent must have looked at hundreds of companies, accumulating whole walls of research. And we have relationships with hundreds of CEOs and other individuals we can call for opinions and advice. Our ability to access all of Advent’s intellectual capital – the diligence, portfolio companies, management teams, operating partners – is unique among public market-oriented managers. It’s an incredible competitive advantage.
Business quality is what matters most to me
Every investor is constantly making trade-offs between valuation, growth and business quality. We are investing for the long-term, so I start with business quality. Will the company be in a stronger position five years from now? Quality means something very specific to us: we focus on competitive position resulting in a strong economic moat, and whether it’s improving or worsening. There is no short-cut to figure that out. It means understanding the product – how it’s used and how it’s sold – and talking to lots of customers. Why do you really buy it? Why do you prefer it to the competition? What would you do if it did not exist? Would you be willing to pay 20% more – or 200% more? Pricing power is a real litmus test. If a business can extract economic rent from its customers and suppliers, that says the value proposition is quite powerful. It’s how we identify businesses that can compound for the long term.