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Investment Bankers Are Like Cardiologists

Investment bankers are like cardiologists.  We can help a lot – especially in critical situations.  However, it’s really important that we talk once in a while to make sure things are on track.  If you wake up in the morning and find that you need us urgently, you’re probably in big trouble.

We all know that it’s important to take care of your health and to keep in touch with your doctors.  Your business is no different.  To be fair, analogies have their limitations.  Cardiologists literally save lives, and they deserve great respect for the work that they do.  Fortunately for me, investment bankers don’t have the responsibility of saving lives, but we do have a significant impact on saving livelihoods and preserving the life work of our clients.

Surprisingly, our biggest competitor is not another investment banking firm, it’s the business owner who chooses to manage a critical transaction on their own.  Sometimes this works well, but all too often, owners who go down this path experience enormous stress and leave substantial amounts of money on the table – not to mention the high risk of ending up with poor deal terms or even deal failure.  Investment bankers provide a critical professional service and the value that they contribute far exceeds the cost of their fees.  Even without the better deal terms and higher valuations, investment bankers add value by managing the process and removing the burden from the owner’s shoulders so he or she can maintain focus on running the business.

As with most things in life, in order to succeed, you need the right team.  Investment bankers are like quarterbacks who coordinate a process and make sure that the attorneys, CPAs, and other professionals are all moving in the same direction.  Also, just like a quarterback, an investment banker’s ultimate goal is to make sure that the ball makes it across the goal line successfully in the form of a successful transaction.

Just as it’s important to have a relationship with your doctor before you have an urgent need, it’s also important to have an investment banker on your team before a need arises for a variety of circumstances.  If you plan to grow, you will eventually need capital.  Having a relationship with an investment banker is critical.  If you plan to make acquisitions, the same holds true.  If you plan to exit, an investment banker can help you achieve the best possible results from your transaction.  Regardless of your company’s stage of growth, investment bankers are a vital part of a successful team.

It’s a smart idea to find a good investment banker and touch base with them a couple of times each year.  Even if you are several years out from any kind of transaction, it’s the perfect time to reach out to an investment banker.  Critical business transactions take time to plan, and your investment banker can be an invaluable source of insight as you prepare.  Use them as a sounding board for your strategic plans, and let them push back and challenge your thinking.  The earlier you get in touch with a professional, the more likely you are to have a successful transaction.

Just as a cardiologist works with hearts all day every day, investment bankers study business all day every day.  They see what works and what doesn’t.  Their experience can be invaluable and their presence on your team will make a significant difference.  The moral of the story is – talk to an investment banker today.  If your transaction is already on the radar, you’re behind the eight ball.