Raising capital is an absolutely critical step for fast growing businesses. Finding the right advisor to help with this process can be challenging and time consuming. Investment banks specialize in advising companies through the capital raise or sale process — and since they do so much more than just find buyers and investors, it’s important to find the right one for your business.
On the heels of Axial’s Series C financing round, we talked to Steve McLaughlin, Founder and Managing Partner of Financial Technology Partners, about the role he played in advising our CEO Peter Lehrman and tips for other CEOs looking for an advisor.
Find a banker who knows how you want to grow.
For example, if you’re a business looking for a growth partner that will be involved in the day-to-day of the business, it’s incredibly important that your advisor not approach “financial-only” sponsors.
In Axial’s case, “capital itself is a commodity, and as such, it was important that we found a true partner with deep fintech industry expertise and long-term commitment to Axial in support of its growth objectives,” says McLaughlin. The company was seeking an operationally focused investor who would bring growth expertise as well as capital to the equation.
Find a banker with deep domain experience.
Knowledgeable investment banks have a deep domain understanding of sectors and clients they serve. This makes them uniquely positioned to understand a company’s intangible value and more effectively articulate the company’s industry-specific strengths to capital providers.
“We were able to leverage our deep knowledge of financial technology and Axial’s unique marketplace offerings, along with our broad industry relationships to help the company achieve a favorable outcome,” said McLaughlin.
Prior to their engagement with Axial, Financial Technology Partners published a widely circulated report on Innovations in Capital Markets Technology, which broke down key trends around technology spending, big data, analytics, and more. Reports like these enable specialized investment banks to demonstrate their understanding of the key drivers of investment and innovations in the space.
Find a banker who knows what makes you unique.
Throughout a capital raise, potential investors will look for information about your competition and evaluate the likelihood for success in the years to come. It’s often the role of the investment bank to communicate strengths and articulate the value proposition in conjunction with the CEO – so the investment bank must be able to act as a spokesperson, helping to communicate your strengths as a CEO and your business’ competitive advantage.
In addition, since raising capital taxes a CEO’s time and resources, investment banks often are able to speed up an otherwise lengthy and distracting process. An exemplary investment bank will do so qualitatively through the use of anecdotes, reports, and market research as well as quantitatively through the display of key performance metrics, market analysis, and other benchmarks.
Find ways to structure your search.
These tips can get you started in the process of choosing an investment bank who you trust and who believes in you. CEOs can also take an analytical approach to finding the right partner by using a scorecard like the one below: