Nonetheless, it’s not an investment banker’s duty to question how or why. When a deal does not work, the investment banker takes rejection with dignity and honour (by telling everyone that the client is a muppet, for example) and goes to pitch the same idea to the next potential client that is willing to take the time to hear him out (it is very important to make sure that the client’s logo at the front of the presentation is changed in the pitchbook, as for some strange reason, clients tend to get rather upset when for example someone at Kruelberg opens the exclusive and unique opportunity that the firm has set aside for him and just him, only to find Blunderstone’s logo on the front page).
So we do live in times when the next client to pitch to isn’t going to be a private equity house. This is most unfortunate for the analyst involved, as it significantly reduces their ability to get headhunted into the buyside by impressing the clients with their knowledge of the art of bullshit. Big deal. Look on the bright side. No need to impress snotty nosed, full of themselves, smug ex-investment bankers who feel the need to overcompensate for all the shit they had to take in their junior days by making the investment bankers who work for them feel even worse. No way. Now that the Kruelbergs, Blunderstones and Crapaxes of this world are no longer in the market to but overpriced assets, in come the corporates, with their warchests of cash, sitting on their balance sheets. Their boards are no longer afraid of being pushed out by a crazy private equity fund (not that those guys have become less crazy, but they simply don’t have the cash nowadays), so there’s no need to worry about returning value through share buybacks. And with no buybacks, all the cash they make just sits idly on their balance sheet. It is in times like these that the investment banker hears his calling.
“Pitch to them!” says the deep voice of investment banking wisdom.
“Make them acquire!” roars the voice of investment banking passion.
“Help them expand their footprint in new markets!” whispers the voice of investment banking sincerity.
“Create the leaders of tomorrow” hollers the voice of investment banking vision.
The investment banker is drawn to the voices, dancing majestically like ballerinas in his head. Their words creating visions of synergies, multiple expansion, consolidation and premia. And as this spectacle of investment banking vision crystallizes before his eyes, the investment banker hears the deep, clear voice that overrides them all. It is chanting, loud and clear, the raison d’etre of every senior investment banker – “fees” sweet, glorious, upwards scaled, beautiful fees.
And for fees to materialize, deals need to happen, so the universe of the investment banking managing director eclipses with that of the humble analyst. They look together into the sunset over the City of London and march on to the next pitch – that next pitch that just might turn into a deal, that just might close. And if it does, oh how sweet those fees will be, and how wonderful the creation of yet another set of lucite tombstones will feel.