Technology Bankers in Demand as Deals Pile Up in Busy M&A Year

Bankers have been on the move more than ever this year as dealmaking booms and smaller advisory firms build their benches to win market share.

Many of the defectors have one thing in common: they’re technology specialists who’ve seen demand for their skills soar as companies across industries hunt for tech deals.

While boutique advisers have been prowling for talent at big banks for years, a recent exodus at the U.S. banking arms of Credit Suisse Group AG and in UBS Group AG’s technology group has made it busier than usual for moves, financial recruiters said.

One recruiter, Gary Goldstein, said it’s the busiest he’s ever seen it.

“I’ve been in executive search for over three decades and have never seen a velocity of transactions like I’m seeing now, which is driving the unprecedented hiring of bankers,” said Goldstein, the chief executive officer at executive search firm Whitney Partners.

Eight technology managing directors left UBS for SVB Financial Group’s advisory arm, including group head Jason Auerbach, Bloomberg News reported this month. The group that departed was more than a dozen in total, including the more junior members of the team, said people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the details are private.

Credit Suisse, meanwhile, has been trying to stem U.S. defections in the fallout from the implosion of Archegos Capital Management. At least two technology, media and telecommunications bankers have departed for Barclays Plc.

Bank of America Corp. also lost three senior technology bankers, including a co-head of investment banking, Jack MacDonald, to Centerview Partners’ Menlo Park office this month.

Deals in the technology and health-care sectors usually take the biggest share of all M&A deals.

New Entrants

Regional banks looking to get in on dealmaking are driving some of the hiring. Before it poached the UBS technology team, SVB Leerink hired two senior Citigroup Inc. health-care bankers this year.

Boston-based SVB is on a hiring spree under Barry Blake, the global co-head of investment banking who joined in February from Guggenheim Securities and spent most of his career at Citigroup. Their latest hire was a managing director in technology in Boston from Evercore Inc., Bloomberg news reported last week.

SVB isn’t the only non-traditional investment banking player trying to build up a platform. Truist Financial Corp., a regional bank that was created after the merger of BB&T and SunTrust, hired Royal Bank of Canada’s co-head of technology investment banking, Michael Carter, this year. Truist is on the prowl for more investment bankers, recruiters said.

Converting Tech Bankers

Michal Katz, head of investment banking at Mizuho Americas, said she currently spends 30% of her time recruiting bankers and about 20% of her time managing and retaining talent. The scramble for tech bankers reminds her of the Internet bubble two decades ago.

“Getting bankers who are skilled and experienced with relationships has always been challenging but it’s tech, health care and ECM that are rivaling for the top talent where recruiting is the most competitive,” she said.

Technology Bankers in Demand as Deals Pile Up in Busy M&A Year

Big banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have been steadily adding to their ranks of technology talent. Goldman Sachs tech co-head Sam Britton said in an interview this year that the bank only had three bankers focused on software a decade ago. Now it has about 40, he said.

Banks are also turning to the technology industry itself to find talent, including Morgan Stanley, which last year hired Brittany Skoda, a former Workday Inc. executive to be global head of software banking. Skoda had previously worked at Goldman Sachs.

Other banks are searching for bankers they can convert to technology specialists, said Natalie Machicao, a recruiter at Sheffield Haworth who works with investment banking clients.

“Banks are on the hunt for strong athletes, particularly in underutilized sectors, that they can retool into technology bankers or even SPAC product bankers due to unprecedented deal flow,” Machicao said.

Some banks are doing this in their own ranks. In March, JPMorgan moved Greta Kessel, a longtime managing director in Los Angeles in consumer retail into the technology group. She will focus on consumer and internet and disruptive commerce.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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