Inspirational Woman: Alexandra Daly | Founder & Managing Director, AA Advisors

Inspirational Woman Alexandra DalyAlexandra Daly is a successful entrepreneur and financial professional who is passionate about unlocking opportunity through enabling access to funding and finance.

She is the Founder and Managing Director of independent placement agency, AA Advisors and has extensive experience in raising capital across borders and capital structures.

Alexandra is also an engaged participant in several initiatives to support female entrepreneurship. She is an active advocate for women and fiercely believes in the need to level the playing field, creating opportunities by breaking down barriers.

Before founding AA Advisors, Alexandra worked at Man Group for three years, where she cross-sold the firm’s multi-manager platforms, fund of funds businesses and investment services capabilities to European and UAE institutions, sovereign wealth funds, and family offices. Prior to this, Alexandra worked at J.P Morgan in their London office in the derivatives products group. She started her career in finance at Morgan Stanley,as a member of the Fixed Income and Money Markets division.

Alexandra has a BA Honours in Law from University of London.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am the Managing Director of independent placement agency, AA Advisors, a company I founded in 2007. I have a 20-year background working in finance, 15 of which have been dedicated to the alternatives sector, raising capital in multiple jurisdictions and across capital structures.

At AA Advisors, we help raise money for Hedge Funds, Private Equity, Real Estate and Venture Capital firms. We do this by acting as an intermediary between asset managers looking to raise money and large institutional investors and family offices looking at deploying capital. More recently, we are focusing on responsible and impact investing, as well as infrastructure, specialising in sourcing investors from an institutional base alongside those familiar with this ecosystem.

Alongside my day-to-day work with AA Advisors, I am an active advocate and participant in numerous initiatives supporting women in business and more specifically female entrepreneurs – an issue particularly close to my heart as a female business owner myself.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not consciously. I founded AA Advisors after I felt I had built up enough experience in raising capital across borders and capital structures, and had the foundations of a successful career in alternative asset fundraising which I could build on. However, it wasn’t a deliberate plan when I began my career in banking at Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan.

Since starting AA Advisors, I have had to have a clearer idea of what I want to achieve. As a business owner, having a forward-looking strategy and vision is essential to the long-term success of the company.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

When I set up AA Advisors in 2007, we couldn’t have expected the economic crash just a year later. Much larger organisations than ours were badly impacted, so we were hit really hard and I nearly lost everything. However, we were able to ride out the storm and in the long run it has made me stronger and more resilient.

To be honest, I am actually grateful that I set up AA Advisors prior to the downturn. If I had waited longer I almost certainly would not have decided to take the plunge and set up my own company in such challenging economic conditions. Knowing what I do now, I now wouldn’t change any of my decisions from that time.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Founding my own company is without a doubt my greatest achievement. Despite having considerable experience and a good network of contacts in the sector, breaking away and going out on your own is always a risk. However, I have never regretted this decision and am immensely proud of where we are today having helped raise well over $1 billion into the alternatives industry for various clients.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I have been lucky enough to benefit immensely from mentors throughout my career. One in particular has, at times, felt like a foundation to my success – we met at a City black tie engagement years ago in a room with filled with 500 men. Over the years we have remained close and she has offered me sincere advice (both personal and professional), helped me overcome challenges and flourish as a business owner in a competitive and, sometimes, unforgiving sector.

The value of the open and honest conversations mentoring allows is an invaluable tool, not only for women, but men as well.  Knowing how much my mentors have supported me has motivated me to take on my own mentees. I hope that I am able to provide even a fraction of the support and counsel to my five mentees as I received from my mentor and that they in turn will go on to help others as well, building a network of mutual encouragement and inspiration.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

An issue I see particularly frequently in my industry is funding challenges many female entrepreneurs and small business owners face accessing funding for their enterprises. As a female business owner myself I understand this problem all too clearly and therefore have actively worked to help address this issue by raising awareness and exploring ways these entrepreneurs can access capital, in particular from the alternatives community.

As part of this work I am currently originating and leading a steering committee comprised of leading financial institutions which is looking at implementing the recommendations of the Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship and in particular seeking to find ways in which we can encourage LPs and investment funds to help their clients invest in female-run businesses. I hope by coming together on the issue and highlighting the existing funding gap we can make a tangible difference to female entrepreneurs in the years to come.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

What first thing that comes to mind is that ‘there is no box’. You will find people trying to pigeonhole you throughout your career, but if you apply your mind you can do whatever you want to without parameters. Make sure you believe in yourself and when you face challenges, remember that tomorrow is always another day.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

Alongside my ongoing work with AA Advisors I am working on a new project that will be hopefully be launching in the coming months.

Whilst I can’t reveal too much at this stage, the initiative will be focused on opening access to fertility services for women across the UK, in a simple and cost-effective way. My hope is to make conversations and decisions around fertility a less daunting experience for young women, both personally and financially.

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