One of the main challenges in everyone’s life entrepreneur is to find efficient ways to prospect customers. There are many options. Expand physical presence? Investing in digital channels? Working with partner vendors? Whoever is in charge of a business knows the amount of doubt that usually goes through anyone’s mind at these times.
The 51-year-old entrepreneur from São Paulo, Fernando Hormain, found a creative way to expand his customer base: invest in his hobbies. Hormain is a partner at Black Bridge, an investment firm founded in 2017.
Earlier this year, the four partners of Black Bridge switched from brokerage XP to the investment ecosystem of BTG Actual (from the same controlling group as EXAM).
Since his youth, Hormain has been passionate about non-manufactured cars for a long time. In the businessman’s collection are 15 vintage vehicles desired by collectors, such as models from the Brazilian Puma, manufacturer of popular sports cars in the 60s and 70s, as well as newer vehicles such as a Renault Twingo from the early 90s.
Like many collectors throughout Brazil, Hormain usually attends meetings of antique car collectors, such as the one held in Águas de Lindóia, in the interior of São Paulo, which used to bring together more than 500,000 people before the pandemic.
“Many of my clients are collectors who also participate in these meetings,” says Hormain. “In the pandemic, with circulation restrictions, this relationship network remains active through digital media.”
Another important portion of the customers comes from the hobby of partner Marc Gautier, who was an air taxi pilot and still pilots small aircraft in his spare time. Executive aviation clients – and aviation enthusiasts in general – are an important market niche for the São Paulo-based investment office.
Hormain and Gautier have been in the capital market for 30 years. Among the various operations in which they participated, they have already conducted structured debt and equity operations in local and international markets, with operations in the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, England, Switzerland and the United States.
Black Bridge’s goal is to reach a net worth of 1 billion reais of customers by the end of this year, the first plugged into the BTG ecosystem. Moving house was strategic for a business like Black Bridge, used to digging up businesses in a different way than competitors.
It is usual among investment advisors for professionals to start a relationship with clients through the individual – that is, offering financial products to individuals or families interested in protecting their assets. Subsequently, clients who also have businesses end up seeking investment advice to improve the use of the company’s cash.
At Black Bridge, the movement is the other way around. “Most of our customers look to us to improve the efficiency of their business and then look after their assets,” says Hormain.
For him, the fact of using the social circles where he circulates because of his hobby for old cars as a channel for prospecting customers explains, to a large extent, the corporate profile of the usual demands of his customers.
Among the most common services offered by Black Bridge is that of applying funds from client companies’ cash in funds with higher returns than the products offered by traditional retail banks. For this, the office has an exclusive service area for credit, foreign exchange, fixed income and related operations.
The goals for 2021 are to increase the attraction of customers with this profile in sectors of the Brazilian economy that emerged stronger from the pandemic, such as health plan administrators and e-commerce businesses. For this, the office must increase the number of advisors – today there are seven – and, thus, increase the chances of entering new social circles with potential clients.
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