SENIOR BANKERS: Whale hunting vs. volume work at the senior level

Curious to hear if any senior bankers have insight into whale hunting for mega deals at a BB/EB vs. doing a higher volume of deals at a MM. I'd appreciate any info you can provide. Here are a few questions to help guide the conversation:

  1. Do the types of deals you do affect your lifestyle/WLB?

  2. Do seniors at a BB/EB specialize in just whale hunting or are they open to doing sub $1B deals in between chasing mega-cap mandates?

  3. What are some of the upsides and downsides to solely chasing after mega deals?

  4. What are some of the upsides and downsides to churning out MM sponsor sellsides?

  5. Do the economics of the type of bank your at (BB/EB/MM) factor into what deals you chase?

  6. How would you compare and contrast BD work/relationship building at public companies vs. sponsors/portcos vs. founder owned private companies?

  7. Does your frequency of travel differ based on the types of deals you do?

  8. Do specific types of deal require more prerequisite connections from undergrad, b-school, etc?

  9. If you're a junior MD/fresh Director at a bank known for whale hunting, what's expected of you when you first begin to build your book of business? Do you start down-market and work your way up? Do you get a few accounts handed to you by more senior producers?

Comments (10)

  • Business School in CorpStrat

Interesting set of questions, hopefully one of the certified MDs on the site answer this.

reformed, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Think this is generally a mischaracterization of how banking works. 

Bankers cover clients, not specific deals. No one wants to miss a deal for one of their core clients, no matter how small it is because it gives another bank an opportunity to gain favor with that client and replace them as their primary banker. 

  • 1
reformed, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I don't follow. Execution bankers by definition don't bring in any revenue. 

Most Helpful
Reaganing, what's your opinion? Comment below:

My perspective:

1: No significant difference by deal type. There are laid back people and psychos everywhere. Anything public market facing will be more volatile (mostly BB). MM more of a consistent pain given larger number of txns.

2: BB/EB MDs absolutely will chase sub $1bn mandates.

3: Upsides are obvious - one txn can result in a $100mm+ fee for bank. Depending on model, $20-40mm bonus for banker.

4: Upside more consistent fee performance (portfolio approach). Less volatile WLB. Downside to smaller transactions is generally less sophisticated management teams, sponsors, lawyers - at upper end of MM generally not an issue. Smaller deals, smaller fees so make up with volume or lower paycheck

5: I might be miss understanding the question - but senior people at BB or EBs aren't waking up every day and deciding between mega deals or MM deals. The roles are specialized earlier and the relationships / spheres of influence don't translate. Economics matter - firms have fee minimums or at least guidelines

6: Sorry, didn't understand question

7: The more deals you're chasing, the more you're traveling, regardless of size. Given that, MM bankers tend to travel more

8: No, not really

9: There is no specific answer for this - and will vary across firms and groups. Sponsor-driven / flow-based shops have more defined path. You don't really wake up as a fresh MD at BB or EB and decide you only want to chase whales. To only chase whales you generally need: 15+ years of repeat and refrenceable clients, serious Board relationships, among other things. The path there can be SSDs of all sorts. But you should have a plan and track record before you make MD. At end of day it's mostly about fees tied to you. The more senior you get the less SSDs you have to do…and apex predators end up only whale hunting.

Lastly - the lines aren't as defined as the questions imply. I'm in coverage and focus on M&A and my competitors span BB, MM, and EB.

  • Associate 3 in AM - Other

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