I recently had a phone call with the Head of Capital Markets, and he asked me a specific question. That question was the following: Why are so many people in this strange environment that we find ourselves interested in making a move? Particularly more so than many other years past. I shared with him what I considered to be common themes running through the firms that I represent looking for people and the candidates themselves. The firms that value their industry, business, employees, and growth have candidates flocking to their doors.
Weathering The Storm:
Here’s How You Know Firms That Value This
The first thing at the forefront of everyone’s mind is how their firm is dealing with a COVID-19 environment. Are they insisting that their bankers and/or attorneys come into the office? Are they waiting for their bankers/attorneys to get on planes to see people? Or are they letting the bankers/attorneys do what they always do best, which is find ways to make business happen? Let me elaborate on this more. The firms that are showing that they can weather the storm, even proactively hiring during this environment, are the firms the people want to move to. Good, strong managing directors and partners are reevaluating their current positions. Many of these people have made few moves (if any) over their career but are now wondering how committed their firm is to the business. The firms that value business have a leg up on others. It is this commitment level the candidates are raising to me, since their number one concern remains with their current firm.
Dedication & Resources
Let us move on with firms that value the theme of dedication. Even if the firm is dedicated, how are they allocating resources during this pandemic? Are they cutting back? Or are they adding to the current resource team to handle the new way of doing business for the bankers and bond counsels we represent? Many firms are reducing people that act strictly as resource sources for the bankers and the attorneys. Now more than ever, these resources are needed for the deals to be done quickly and effectively. If a firm is not willing to commit resources to their bankers, this is a clear indication that they do not see the long-range picture for public finance.
Compensation & Bonuses
Another theme that is occurring is that compensation for deals have consistently eroded as takedowns have become smaller. The firms that are simply relying on RFP’s to get business are seeing that their bankers are not stepping up to the plate to bring in the revenue that is needed. With many firms sharing revenue then allocating bonuses, the bankers/attorneys that are generating significant revenue are not seeing their fair share of that bonus pool. The pool is being spread among all people – revenue and non-revenue producers. This inequality in distribution of bonus money has become more apparent over the last couple years. Strong candidates are taking steps to leave behind this inequality, going to firms that value them for their business and the requisite revenue they produce.
Firms That Value Their Commitment To The Public Finance Space
The final theme is the commitment level of the firm. Even if they are dedicating resources, are they committed to public finance for the next 10 to 20 years? Many of the candidates we are fortunate to represent have never made a move or maybe one to two at most. They are asking themselves: Are they able to remain at their current firm for the next 10 to 20 years? Or are they going to be forced to make a move in that timeframe? This could be because their firm is either going to be acquired, go out of business completely, or just not be dedicated to the public finance space any longer. We are fortunate to represent firms that value and are committed to the space today and tomorrow. That is probably the most important factor for a managing director in public finance and a partner in the bond counsel world would like to address.
About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all level Public Finance Bankers, Health Care Bankers, Municipal Financial Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.