Where Do The Flying Rumors Leave You?

What do the rumors mean for the current state of the field of public finance?

As you likely know, last week a major bank came out and said they are seriously looking at their current stand on their role in the field of public finance. This comes on the heels of another major investment bank announcing they are out of negotiated public finance but will remain a strong buyer of bonds in the competitive field. This has definitely provoked a lot of questions and concerns about the future of public finance.  What does all this profess?

What Does The Future Hold? 

The calls came in last week from all over with the same concern, many asking me my opinion of what all this means – as if I have a crystal ball into the whole field of public finance. Since I am not a mind reader or a prognosticator of the future, I am going to tell you what the facts do indeed indicate. How am I to know the facts because I can share what the hiring managers and those in the trenches are sharing with me? They are still hiring, albeit more selective, but bond counsels and public finance firms are still looking for those “rock stars” throughout the United States.

Who Are The Rock Stars In The Field Of Public Finance?

Rather than tell you who they are in the field of public finance, I’d rather share who they are not.  By reverse engineering, the description of the obvious becomes noticeably clear. They are not bankers at large brokerage firms who are strictly relying on the firm’s name, past reputation, and firm’s ability to provide a balance sheet for non-bond lending. They are also not bankers who are not financially astute, creative, and more importantly ignorant of their client’s financial needs. They are not bankers (or bond counsels for that matter) who are concerned about a client following them to a new firm, whether that firm is known or not known in the marketplace. Also, and this is regrettable, they are not those bankers who are just part of a large team – the transactional ones.

Here To Stay…

What makes me confident that the field of public finance is here to stay is the simple fact that there will always be some form of borrowing on the tax-exempt side of the business for new or existing project finance. Cities, municipalities, special districts, health care, and higher education will always need capital. That’s what public finance professionals provide. The hiring need for professionals by my clients has not come to a halt. I am not getting calls that they are thinking about exiting the industry. Why?  Because the firms we are fortunate enough to represent are the non/bulge bracket firms that know where they are going today and are planning for a successful future. Interest rates may be of concern today, but one of two things will occur, which always occurs. They will either fall making projects on the shelf viable again, or the marketplace will become used to the higher rates and act accordingly once they recognize this is the new normal.

 In The Current Field Of Public Finance, Who’s Getting Hired?

Who are the ones that are getting hired in this turbulent environment?  They are the scrappy bankers in the field of public finance, and I do not mean any disrespect by using this term. These are the bankers that will always be in demand, and the firms that embrace this type of professional will secure their future. It’s the scrappy banker – the one you can count on to bring in a deal no matter what the interest rate environment portends.  It’s the bond counsel who is so needed that a project could not go further along the legal process without them.  Bond counsels who are in the trenches every day. They are not remaining in their ivory tower offices, but rather in the field – either actually or metaphorically.  Let the rumors fly by.  Remember: that’s all they are, rumors. For our clients, the future looks bright.


You don’t need a resume to chat with us! If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn. Harlan publishes a blog every Thursday here. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs, so you never miss one. You can find our listing in the “supplier and services” section of the Red Book under the title of “executive recruiting.”

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.