Feature: New IVCA Board of Director Officer, Alex Abell of RCP Advisors

Feature: New IVCA Board of Director Officer, Alex Abell of RCP Advisors

June 26, 2020

Last year the Illinois Venture Capital Association (IVCA) announced their latest Board of Directors, who will serve from January 1st, 2020, to June 30th, 2021. There are many new faces and perspectives on the Board, so the IVCA is continuing a series of profiles for those recently minted BOD officers. The next profile is below …
 
New IVCA Board of Director Officer: Alex Abell, Partner
Representative Firm: RCP Advisors
 
IVCA: Tell us a little about your firm and your tenure there.
 
Alex Abell: RCP Advisors is a private equity investment management firm focused on North American lower middle market buyouts. Established in 2001 and headquartered in Chicago, the firm sponsors private equity funds-of-funds – including primary funds and secondary funds – as well as co-investment funds. Additionally, RCP Advisors provides investment advisory and research services. 
 
I joined the firm at the beginning of 2015 and I am a partner. I am on the investment committee, part of the primary fund investment team, and oversee RCP Solutions our separate account and advisory business.
IVCA: What made you decide to Join IVCA’s board?
Abell: RCP has been actively involved in IVCA for many years and we have seen how important a function the organization serves to represent Private Equity [PE] in Illinois and beyond.  Today, more than ever, our industry needs a strong voice to help accurately relay to the rest of the world what our industry actually does, not just what the headlines may say.
 
IVCA: The IVCA’s mission is to support and promote private company investing in the Midwest. Can you talk about your involvement in correcting some of the misperceptions of the PE business model and how it promotes economic growth? Any ideas for how IVCA can do this more effectively?
Abell: I am regular speaker at various conferences both within and outside our industry. Much of the content of these talks is what the PE community does, how we create returns for our investors, and why there are so many misconceptions within the broader markets. In addition, at RCP we produce a great deal of research on the industry that we share with both investors and GPs, that often revolves around some of the most important issues facing the industry.
 
I think it benefits the industry when the more the IVCA can use statistics on things like PE portfolio company growth metrics, bankruptcy rates and more, it shows what PE firms are truly doing with companies, and not the vulture narrative that is often painted for the industry. In addition, ESG [Environmental, Social and Governance factors] have become a more important criteria for institutional investors, and at RCP we are trying to be a leader in helping PE firms better understand what types of things they can do to address these issues.
I am also the LP Chair of the Small Business Investment Alliance [SBIA] Board. SBIA is an organization which actively lobbies Washington, D.C. on behalf of the PE industry, and more specifically the middle and mower middle market. 
 
IVCA: The coming months will be difficult as we figure out how to move through the pandemic and expected recession, any thoughts on how VC/PE will fare?
Abell: If history is any judge it will fair quite well. In the last two recessionary time periods, fund level and deal level returns have peaked in the years immediately following those recessions. Most institutional investors are quite aware of this and from those we have spoken to there is no plan to sit on sideline. 
 
For those managing investments already in place, we have been comforted by the fact that most GPs have learned many lessons from the global financial crisis and have been actively using their toolbox to maximize liquidity within their portfolios, as well as minimize business interruption.
 
IVCA: The IVCA works to share ‘best in class’ operational practices across firms, any thoughts on how that might help firms weather our current storms?
Abell: There is no doubt that the PE firms that have a strong operational focus will have a distinct advantage in this market. I would imagine … for firms that don’t have those types of resources in place already or are not as practiced at utilizing them … the IVCA will be able to provide forums for best practices to be shared.
 
IVCA: What are you hoping to offer and gain from IVCA Board Participation?
Abell: I hope to provide support to the organization’s mission by utilizing my own knowledge and experiences along with RCP’s market intelligence and data, which is truly unique.
 
For the RCP Advisors bio of Alex Abell, click here.