Debt Capital Markets Group

The team within Debt Capital Markets (DCM) is responsible for providing advice on raising debt for acquisitions, refinancing of existing debt, or restructuring of existing debt.

A Debt Capital Markets Group will work with a client to organize borrowing and to help provide access to a global pool of investors who are looking for opportunities. Debt is often used as it is usually cheaper than financing through equity and can add diversity to funding.

DCM vs Other Investment Banking Groups - Pay, Hours, and More

Compensation in DCM is roughly the same as coverage/M&A bankers. Bonuses for coverage/M&A bankers may be slightly greater, but that varies by firm. Hours will be slightly less for DCM, more in the realm of 70 hours than the 80 hours other groups see.

What you'll end up doing is different than what the typical investment banking analyst does. Here's some insight from @TheAxe.

As far as responsibilities go, outside of basic financial functions (PV of cash flows, etc.), there is much less emphasis on modeling in Excel and more of your time will be spent using different debt sizing, refunding, assumptive applications (more of some than others based on if you are in Derivatives Banking, Public Finance/Munis, High Yield/Corporate, etc.). Most of my time is consumed by doing the majority of the analytics for my deal team (everyone will contribute to the pitchbooks).

Typically, you get more responsibility at the junior levels in DCM groups. There's more client interaction, but less financial modeling. There are two very important differences between a Debt Capital Markets Group and any other investment banking group - exit opportunities and skill set.

Exit Opportunities

How do the exit opportunities compare to the typical IBD gig? Here's @bankonbanking with a nice summary of exit opportunities out of DCM.

If, however, you are hoping to move on from IB into P/E or a boutique, you will have a much harder time since your skill set will be limited to high grade companies, and you will have very limited financial modeling exposure - VERY limited. If you are interested in banking in general and more of the sales side, not as much the analytical modeling side of the business, then High Grade DCM would be great for you. I personally prefer the modeling side of the equation, so for me, HG DCM wasn't a great fit. I know other bankers that absolutely enjoy it.

It's simple: exit opps out of DCM aren't as good as the typical investment banking gig for private equity. Yes, you can absolutely compensate for this with drive, networking, financial modeling competence, and more - but you are at a disadvantage coming out of DCM opposed to the typical investment banking group.

For hedge funds, DCM has better exit opps. More on that from @I Invest.

Coverage/M&A generally place better to PE. Go to the PE websites and you can see this yourself. Read the bios and see how many of the associates come from coverage/M&A versus DCM. You will find DCM is infrequent relative to coverage/M&A. Not improbable, but less frequent. HF placements tend to be better, especially the debt funds. For exit opps not PE/HF/high finance, I think being a coverage/M&A banker is more marketable.

DCM Skill Set

What skill set is desired of debt capital market analysts? What skills can you expect to develop after a stint in investment banking DCM?

Going in, they're looking for the same thing as the typical investment banking group (@TheAxe).

I'm an analyst in DCM and feel like the skill set desired of new hires (and there haven't been very many in the year or so I've been here) is similar to that of any prospective IB employee: sharp, analytically, attentive to detail, good work ethic, etc.

That said, because of the nature of DCM work, you will develop an atypical set of skills. Here's some insight from @yesman.

I'm critical of these gigs because I don't think you develop a decent skill set - you can read my prior posts if you like. I rotated through one of these groups.
The job is comps, comps, comps [comparable analysis, a company valuation technique] because you want to see what kinds of terms are palatable in the market. HY issuance is slightly more interesting than IG because there's more company-specific issues.

On the IG side, you look at the credit rating on the bond and the spread in the market, and try to give the issuance the same terms; rating is all that matters. No modeling, no market making - you look at term sheets and trading prices.

To be blunt, you end up doing the shit that IBD is too busy to do and sales/trading don't want to bother with.

While going into DCM isn't a bad thing - it's investment banking after all - the skills you develop aren't as desirable as those you typically would get as an investment banking analyst elsewhere. Because of the amount of comparable analysis you do, you won't be nearly as good at financial modeling as your non-DCM peers. Ultimately, it's just a different set of of skills you end up building. Here are the differences in skill sets developed at DCM groups compared to other groups from @I Invest.

In most cases (not all!), the modeling (LBO included) is outsourced to the coverage/M&A groups. Yes, I would always expect a coverage/M&A banker to have better modeling/valuation skills than a DCM banker. However, I would expect the DCM banker to have a better understanding and feel for the past/current/future debt environment. Understand that being in a DCM group does not mean you can't go work at a PE shop. It's just fact that coverage/M&A bankers tend to take these spots more often than not. I think at any bank your analyst experience is going to be what you make it. I've seen DCM analysts run a deal model because they actively raised their hand and took initiative to own it versus the coverage analyst doing so. Although, this isn't a common scenario.

The skill set you develop isn't nearly as transferable as the skill set you would develop in other investment banking groups.

Understanding Capital Markets

Capital markets are markets where capital is traded. It consists of the primary (new stock and bond) and secondary (existing securities) markets. There are books written on the matter, and it would take pages upon pages to try and condense that information, so we are not going to go into that.

Luckily, reading books isn't necessary whatsoever to break in. Here's what you need to know for DCM from @mrb87.

There's no book on how to "do" DCM, people. Understand bonds -- how they are priced (spread over Treasuries), duration, price/yield relationship, etc... -- and the macro environment. But no book is going to tell you what a pricing call is like or what type of things to put in a pitchbook.

Understanding capital markets is a basic aspect of securing the job in DCM, but understanding related aspects (think yield curves) will go a long way (@TheAxe).

If that doesn't satisfy you or if you want a deeper understanding of bond math and DCM, here are some suggestions from @snipez.

There's no book on how to "do" DCM, people. Understand bonds -- how they are priced (spread over Treasuries), duration, price/yield relationship, etc... -- and the macro environment. But no book is going to tell you what a pricing call is like or what type of things to put in a pitchbook.

Below are characteristics of DCM you need to know in preparation for your interview.

Interview Prep

Here's a nice tip that could impress your interviewers from @TheAxe.

As far as the interview goes, having an even basic knowledge of how the debt markets work and an understanding of important related aspects (yield curves in particular) will go a long way as a lot of applicants are more familiar with the sexy equity counterpart of CM.

More to understand from @workerbee:

Understand your bond valuation down pat. Know exactly what Duration, Convexity, Rates, etc., is and how it affects bonds from an issuer and investor standpoint. Understand a bit of M&A valuation methodologies, DCF, etc. Also, understand the DCM IG Market. It's hot but not as hot as it was a couple months back. Understand Yield and where rates are (10 year treasuries) . What have they been doing the last couple months? Know what the fed said last week? Well, what happened to rates and the yield curve?

One thing @workerbee mentions that we disagree with is focusing on M&A valuation techniques and DCF. If you are considering M&A/coverage then obviously study these, but if you are only preparing for DCM, then it's not necessary to study these things.

The Verdict - Is DCM Worth it?

Hypothetical scenario: you have two offers, one from an M&A group and one from a DCM group. Which do you take? Take into account all that we've discussed above: hours, compensation, exit opps, and skill set.

Compensation is roughly the same but the hours in DCM are better.

The skill set you develop in DCM is less desirable and less transferable. Because of this, DCM exit opps are worse.

Coverage and M&A gigs are better than DCM gigs, but that doesn't mean a job in DCM is bad. It's investment banking; you'll be making more than most people ever will, and you'll be setting yourself up for some cozy job prospects in the future. You just might have to work harder to get those jobs than your M&A/coverage peers.

Related Terms

Interested in Investment Banking - Breaking In

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