We recently sat down with a BlackArch team member, Phil Ross, to have him explain what his roles and responsibilities are as an investment banking associate in the middle market.
How would you describe your experience working as an investment banking associate at BlackArch?
Working as an associate at BlackArch has been a challenging and rewarding experience so far. The learning curve is steep at first, but the position is truly unique in the breadth of opportunities available from the very beginning to get hands-on, real experience on a transaction.
Has the experience matched your expectations for working in middle market investment banking?
I transitioned to investment banking from a career in law that I enjoyed quite a bit, so I had high expectations in terms of the quality of work and the opportunity to meaningfully interact with management teams (which was my favorite part of practicing law). The job has not disappointed. Coming from a field where I primarily drafted and negotiated agreements and performed due diligence, I have enjoyed the focus on analytical skills and the engaging discussions with management teams, as well as strategic buyers and private equity groups. M&A has always been inherently exciting to me, so it’s been fun to manage the “ground-level” operations in the investment banking process.
Can you describe a typical work day / work week?
Every week (and likely day) is going to be different, which I think is one of the best aspects of this job. The pitch process is time-intensive and involves heavy research, presentation drafting and valuation analysis. The marketing materials drafting phase is heavy on internal due diligence and creative thinking around positioning and messaging. The deal marketing phase involves detailed discussions with potential buyers regarding all aspects of the client. Finally, the due diligence / negotiation phase is concentrated around populating and sharing a full data room, participating in buyer diligence calls and weighing in during the purchase agreement negotiations. Because each transaction phase is so different, every associate is likely to find aspects that they really enjoy.
What skills are the most important to possess or build upon to be successful as an investment banking associate?
Attention to detail and organizational / time-management skills are at the forefront of required expertise for an associate. Excellent communication skills (both internally among team members and in an external presentation environment) and the ability to write concisely and professionally are also key. Good associates will be adept at understanding their analysts’ strengths and weaknesses and playing to the strengths, while also helping them to improve in all other aspects. An associate can have a large impact on the demeanor and morale of a team, so a positive and encouraging attitude goes a long way. Leadership, especially by example, is important, and I think it’s imperative for an associate to understand and be able to perform all tasks that an analyst may typically perform, both from a teaching perspective as well as being able to step in when needed.
How would you describe the culture in investment banking at BlackArch?
The culture at BlackArch is one of my favorite aspects of the job, especially working with other associates and analysts in the “bullpen.” It’s a collegial environment. We’re all in close proximity together, which facilitates learning from each other (both by asking questions and by listening to how others handle various issues) and building meaningful relationships. It also makes the nights where we need to stay late much easier. I’ve also enjoyed working with and learning from the officers at BlackArch, who have always been willing to explain complex issues and get down in the weeds to help. BlackArch is a special place, and I couldn’t imagine a better environment to begin a career in banking.