So, what do investment bankers do exactly? The simplest explanation is that investment bankers are the world’s deal makers, usually acting as a type of broker. Basically, they match projects with money. Investment Bankers find projects, analyze them, cherry-pick the best, then structure them as investments and, lastly, find the investors (or in the case of an in-house investment banker present the project to the firm’s investment committee.) Most investment bankers will review over one hundred projects per year and eventually reject 99% of them. It’s a really difficult job. A great investment banker is literally worth more than his or her weight in gold. There are few great investment bankers… and even fewer after the 2008 financial crisis.
My Background In Investment Banking
To better understand what do investment bankers do I’m going to provide my background. I have been an investment banker for the past thirty-eight years. I started at the ripe old age of eighteen with the purchase and syndication of two apartment buildings in Northern California, then went on to start one of the first video store chains in the United States. On my first group of syndications, I tripled my investors’ money within three years. Honestly, it was luck and timing.
Somewhere along the line, I developed a reputation and I managed to pick up hundreds of clients that I helped raise money for and manage their investor relations. Some of those clients you
might recognize: IBM, AT&T, Chevron, ADP, FMC, Motorola, Lockheed Martin, Intel, State Farm, Allstate, and 19 other Fortune 500 companies. I have personally syndicated over 100 investments in my career and helped raise billions of dollars in equity for my clients.
I also worked in the entertainment industry writing, directing and executive producing motion pictures. There are 7 motion pictures based on my screenplays, two of which I also directed. I personally invested in or helped finance over 100 independent movies and I founded several successful media services companies in Southern California. Those are my credentials.
I have had my ups and downs–2008 was particularly tough–but I have survived and even prospered. Over the years, I have learned a few secrets about investing that I would like to share with you. If you are not already wealthy, I hope this information makes you become wealthy… like REALLY WEALTHY!
And if you are lucky enough to already be in the top 1%, then I hope this information helps you stay there and sleep better at night knowing your nest egg is safe.
They Usually Specialize
Investment bankers usually specialize in industry sectors such as energy, real estate, technology, consumer goods, minerals, communications, transportation, media, etc. They also specialize in the types of deals that they put together. Some work in mergers and acquisitions (M&A), while other develop IPOs. Many work in equity placement or financing. Some investment bankers specialize in financing startups and growing companies, while others only handle mature companies. Still others stay away from corporate finance and instead specialize in project financing (my personal favorite) like commercial real estate development or acquisition financing.
To answer What do investment bankers do? We need to understand more about their education. Most investment bankers start off graduating from a prestigious university, then working for a number of years at one of the big investment banks; Goldman Sachs, , Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, etc. Once they gain their confidence and develop their contacts many leave to launch their own firms and develop their own projects. Some end up running investment funds, while others remain independent putting deals together for sponsors in need of capital.
Investment bankers keep massive Rolodexes or databases of investor contacts. My personal database has over 8,000 investor contacts all of which have over $100 million in assets. Investment bankers are similar to sports or entertainment agent in that their power comes from who they know and who will take their call on short notice.
An investment banker must always understand current capital market conditions, so they know which projects will get funded and which are a waste of time. They must have a keen eye and are always on the lookout for quality projects and sponsors. An investment banker must know how to structure an investment deal so that it is marketable to investors, while still leaving enough meat on the bone to incentivize the performance of the investment sponsor.
Now you should be able to answer what do investment bankers do! Most successful investments over $10 million have an investment banker behind them. The new arena for investment bankers is crowdfunding. It is the ultimate free market system for raising capital and very well could change the way American business are financed. But more about that in posts to follow….