• David Grammig

David Grammig - Founder of Grammig Advisory introduces himself and his firm

Updated: May 6, 2019

David, first of all congratulations on the founding of Grammig Advisory. We would love to hear more about your firm, but let’s start with you. Who are you and what is your background?

Thank you very much. The founding of Grammig Advisory was a logical move, but like any other venture, it involves a lot of work, challenges and lessons you learn on the way.

I was born in Germany and left after high school to educate myself and work internationally. My academic background is in political science and diplomacy, although my career began in finance.

For years I have worked in the competitive intelligence sector in Europe and the Middle East, which later led me to work in the Financial Crime Investigation, before joining Alea Global Group, the single family office of Kuwait’s Al Duaij family.

What is it like to work for a Single Family Office and what is your job?

Mohammad Al Duaij had been friend of mine for some time before he asked me to join him and work with him. At Alea Global Group, his family’s SFO, I am Partner for International Relations & Business Development. I love my job and working for a family office is very different from corporate life, which I wouldn’t want to go back to. In a family office you are required to be always available, you work more but you are given more freedom to take decisions that will bring your projects forward. The hierarchies are flat, the responsibilities and stakes are high – but so is the reward afterwards. Part of my role as Partner for International Relations is to expand the family’s network of other families and help fulfill our CEO’s mission of strengthening the Family Office community regionally and globally. For this purpose I (co-)host and (co-)organize a number of very exclusive and private summits for SFOs and family businesses – under the leadership of the Al Duaij family.

This sounds more fun than work.

It is definitely both!

Now tell us about Grammig Advisory.

Through my work I maintain a vast network of family offices and family businesses, as well as providers of all sorts of financial services, start-ups with amazing ideas that are looking to raise capital or firms who serve UHNW clients. Many of them are leaders in their field, but not always a match for our events although they might be better positioned at a different conference. I understand the business of organizing summit very well and know who the other providers are and what they offer.

One of Switzerland’s leading private banks estimated the number of SFOs worldwide at over 10,000. And with the number of SFOs rises the number of conferences targeting them as their key audience. Family offices tend to be discreet and conference hosts have to be careful not to alienate their audience by seeking the limelight too much.

This creates two problems: how can they make themselves known to family offices and how can sponsors identify these conferences?

And how can they?

This is where Grammig Advisory comes in. We serve three client groups:

1.) Financial service providers, who would like to increase their visibility through sponsoring such events.

2.) Conference organizers, who would like to subtly raise their profile and make themselves known in the family office community.

3.) Family offices, who either are looking for the right event to attend or would like to host their own private gathering to inviting and addressing a very exclusive and small circle of private investors – with the support of sponsors or without.

So, you are a conference sponsorship broker?

Yes, that’s what we are, but not only. Let’s say a small asset management firm from Switzerland would like to position themselves in the Middle East, we find the right conference for them to participate in, taking into consideration who they would like to address, the specific services they offer, as well as their budget. But that’s not where it ends – especially novices in the field of conference sponsoring might require assistance, e.g. which topic is most suitable for a specific audience, how do I make use of my booth or exhibition area, who best to send as a delegate to represent the firm.

And how do you help conference hosts?

That depends on how sophisticated and established the conference series is. Some organizers require nothing more but support in marketing the different sponsorship packages, while others might need help with the planning or operational part, like finding appropriate speakers or amend the agenda so it becomes more appealing to family offices and potential sponsors.

But what gets you so passionate about conference sponsorship?

As I said earlier, the number of family offices worldwide is growing. These families need platforms to meet, to engage and to learn from each other. But many families also attend for the express purpose of meeting service providers. They block a day or two in their calendars and fully commit them to the attendance of a summit, where they listen to other family offices and sit down with service providers who can answer their questions directly.

We live in a digitalized age and as much as I appreciate all technological advancements that make our lives easier or replace the human factor - which is prone to error - there is one thing we can not replicate – a handshake.

Why exactly a handshake?

A handshake is a metaphor for: We have a deal. I trust you. Thank you. Human interaction. What I am trying to say is: no fancy video, advertisement, email marketing campaign or brochure can replace a face-to-face meeting. Especially when the topic is as delicate as the managing the wealth of an individual or the entire family.

So why not fly out for one-to-one meetings?

You can have only a meeting at a time. You need to travel in between offices and hotel lobbies. And you need your counterpart to commit and show up. Road shows usually last several days per country or region, which means travel and accommodation costs, unproductive hours of waiting and you meet only who wants to meet you. At a conference you encounter families or individuals who might never respond to cold calling. You have dozens or even hundreds of them in a room. Depending on your level of engagement you can pitch or present to all of them; a conference is designed for networking. Nobody will turn their back on you. And it all lasts just a day or two. It’s a question of maximum exposure, efficiency and high quality audiences.

Who should consider attending conferences as a sponsor?

Almost everyone – from private banks to hedge funds, law firms or PE/VC funds, start-ups as well as real estate developers. Basically anyone who serves family offices or UHNWIs. There is room for almost everyone, it is all about identifying the right conference, understanding the audience (geography, cultural background, etc.) and delivering the right message.

What’s the greatest mistake a sponsor could make?

There are many but it is about doing your proper research, the right message and the proper means of participating. For example: an asset manager should not opt for a booth at a conference. They have little to nothing to display in order to attract people to their booth. This option is for real estate developers or business jet brokers who bring models of their buildings or planes. People are intrigued and attracted by this, they will walk over, ask questions: “Where is this building? It looks interesting. Is it built yet. Just out of curiosity – how much does a flat in your tower cost?” People will not stop by to ask about a pile of prospects you put out on your table.

Booths or exhibition areas should be transformed and used for 1-2-1 talks. And do not stand behind your table as if you were selling candy. A booth is teamwork. One person who is very outgoing, engaging and chatty. This person will speak to people, ask questions, listen, introduce their firm and product and bring those interested over to the booth where the second colleague takes over. She or he is an expert on products and solutions and can walk the prospect through all the details of their services and ideally conclude the sales process.

So a booth would be an option for a service provider after all?

It can work under these circumstances but this is rare. A booth should be complementing a presentation, speech or panel discussion. It is all about speaking to the audience, presentation and establishing trust. Do not forget, we speak about private wealth that families or individuals worked very hard for and they won’t entrust just anyone.

You did not mention selling.

Don’t sell on stage. Sell your knowledge, your expertise, your wealth of insights. Make your audience feel like they learned something from you they did not know before. This will stick with the audience far more than talking about products.

Make the audience aware of problems they might not even know they have and then present yourself as the one who has the solution. A firm offering legacy planning services should not flick through PowerPoint presentations explaining every service they offer – that’s the best way to make your audience fall asleep. Tell a story of a fictional client, they challenges the family faced, the problems that were created by not having planned ahead.

A good conference or summit aims at establishing trust and a longterm relationship between its participants rather than facilitating a quick deal on the spot.

Any closing remark you would like to share with our readers?

Don’t dismiss conference sponsorship as a suitable marketing tool. Call or email us and ask as many questions as you can. Get the help you need and make sure an expert accompanies you. There is a lot more value in it than you might think.

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