Learn Lessons In Public Finance Industry…

Have you learned from the past? Here's what you should know about the firms transitions happening again...

Firm Transitions

We’re all talking about it!  Why not explore the topic more thoroughly and what it really means to the public finance industry in general?  If we must be to the point, it means very little.  What’s the topic exactly?  Firms are in transition again.  Now, there are no knee-jerk reactions by other firms discussing their exit from the industry.  In light of recent exits, unannounced (“quiet”) layoffs, or strategic contractions by firms from the public finance industry, this is all more symptomatic of market cycles and business strategy versus any foundational shift about the quality or importance of the industry.  

A Good Word

As told to me by a highly respected banker in our field within the public finance industry, “Through a variety of cycles and for some important reasons, a good number of bankers have overstayed their welcome in the profession.  The industry has evolved significantly in terms of needed skill sets, and the demographic and population shifts occurring throughout large portions of the country have altered the needs and objectives of issuers and industry participants.  Like any cycle, this too shall pass.  Public finance is a much-needed industry and while the bankers and firms will change over time, the industry is here to stay.”

In The Public Finance Industry, There ARE Opportunities!

In fact, many of the firms I’ve talked to said this may even become a hiring opportunity for us.  Many of the name players are already reaching out to the displaced bankers in the public finance industry.  Of this, I am delighted to hear that many of the bankers are going to be picked up; however, with any closure, there are going to be some casualties.  I am sure that many of the more established older bankers may look at this as the opportunity to begin a retirement period or look at starting a second career outside of public finance.  Some bankers that I have had discussions with are even looking to seek positions in private enterprises.

Be Aware Now Of What’s Happened In The Public Finance Industry…

In the wake of the above, what lessons can we take away from this situation in the public finance industry?  My biggest takeaway is that the issuers never forgot about any hasty withdrawal from the markets – whether in the past or the present.   Bankers should be aware of how their firm is being perceived currently in the marketplace.  By being cognizant of this, they should be more proactive when the writing on the wall is out there.  Our industry is always changing and evolving due to the nature of public finance in general; therefore, bankers should be proactive in their response to the market movement. Now they become part of a very large pool of newer dismissed bankers looking for their next seat.

 Start Wisely With The Opportunistic Approach

If you are at another financial institution and you are getting the vibes that things may not be to your liking, be proactive.  Start to interview and don’t wait for the hammer to fall.  Our opportunistic approach is counter to what most people feel is the right way to find a new position. Applying the shotgun approach in the public finance industry (or any industry for that matter) and reaching out to many firms with the expectation that having a plethora of competing firms is going to present the bankers with the best opportunity to be hired.  Once again, I do not believe this is the best approach and have shared with many of the bankers who have reached out to us to finish what they have started by courting numerous firms.  Then, if it does not work out, let us present you to one (and only one firm).  If all goes well, a hire will be the end result since they know you are as committed to them as they are to you.

I wish only continued success to those bankers who have been affected by the recent rounds of reductions.


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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 levels Public Finance Bankers, Healthcare Bankers, Municipal Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.