Being an investment banker in M&A advisory can be exciting and rewarding, and the reward goes way beyond monetary aspects. For Caspar Stauffenberg, Managing Partner at Carlsquare, the attractiveness of being a professional M&A advisor builds on two essential elements:
First, M&A advisory work is project work performed in small and dedicated project teams. Projects have great benefits compared to other methods to organise tasks: Projects contain a full cycle of creation. They have a clear start, a very clear aim, and a defined end. Project work is truly attractive, as it creates a shared motivation to achieve the set goal, it easily provides transparency along the way and an unambiguous understanding of every team member’s contribution can be gained. The beauty of working in small teams lies in the redundancy of formal hierarchies. Roles within project teams are more a result of competency, level of experience and talent, rather than formal titles. Yes, most of the time the tasks are challenging, time is scarce and pressure to come to excellent results is high. And this makes close collaboration an even more crucial prerequisite in this branch of investment banking. Success is achieved by the team and celebrated by the team.
Secondly, M&A advisory is purposeful. Being a M&A advisor means standing side by side with the entrepreneurs and business owners, supporting them in making truly essential decisions and helping them execute these decisions. Many times, these entrepreneurs have invested a great part of their lives to craft and grow their businesses according to their visions. Often they have created something truly great. Now they approach the point to realise that it might be the right time to part with their company. A good advisor who provides guidance to navigate through this complex decision-making process and helps to achieve the desired results has a true and rewarding purpose.
Mr Stauffenberg summarises: “The beauty of being an integral part of a small team with a purposeful mission – everyone who feels attracted to this beauty should consider a career as an investment banker in M&A advisory”
What does a career in M&A advisory look like? The career in investment banking can be divided into four major stages. It starts with an analyst and later senior analyst position. Analysts are junior members of the team who contribute to M&A projects by accomplishing individual tasks. Their skills are primary analytical with good craftmanship in Excel and PowerPoint. After approx. three years of experience, (senior) analysts become junior bankers, which translates into the titles of Associate, and later Senior Associate. They are M&A experts who master all the technical and project management skills that allow them to handle smaller projects autonomously. They allocate tasks to junior bankers (analysts) and secure the accuracy of project steps and process related documents. Three to four years later, (Senior) Associates become Senior Bankers, often called Vice Presidents and later Directors. They assume senior roles in M&A processes, leading more complex processes. They can find creative solutions for problems and get things done. Finally, Senior Bankers become Partners or Managing Partners who step into the role of shareholders and entrepreneurs. They lead the company and have the ultimate responsibility for generating revenue and business with ambitious goals.
At the end of the day, growing experience and expertise translates into increasing responsibility. It is possible to view investment banking as a path with predefined roles. Another way to look at it is that people with the same values come together and seek a common goal: helping clients to close deals! When you’re working closely with your colleagues, fighting hard to get challenging goals accomplished and jointly celebrating moments of success, formal titles lose their significance, and the importance of every single person that contributed becomes apparent.