William Blair CEO Expects Annual Revenue to Surge to a Record
(Bloomberg) -- Boutique investment bank William Blair expects revenue this year to jump as much as 70% to around $2.2 billion, a record result driven by strong dealmaking and equity capital markets, Chief Executive Officer John Ettelson said.
Investment-banking revenue is poised to double in 2021 from a year earlier to about $1.4 billion, Ettelson said Friday in an interview. Firm-wide revenue last year was $1.28 billion.
“Over the last few years, we’ve accelerated growth,” Ettelson said. “We’ve got a terrific, whole structure as a partnership and workforce from a talent standpoint, which has really jelled in the last few years to propel a lot of firm growth.”
Most of the Chicago-based bank’s clients in mergers and acquisitions advisory are private equity and venture capital firms, which helped dealmaking revenue more than triple to $750 million through September from the same period a year earlier.
“M&A is probably the biggest single driver” of the investment bank, Ettelson said. “Our M&A backlog is at the highest ceiling -- it hasn’t declined. So I feel very good about that against the current market environment.”
The firm oversees more than $131 billion in client assets, and has around 1,800 employees. It’s been in a hiring frenzy since the beginning of the pandemic and added more than 200 employees in the past three months.
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“More recently, we’ve done a better job than we had done before of hiring selectively from other major firms and really building out the bench depth,” Ettelson said.
William Blair expanded its investment banking footprint to Denver earlier this month after reaching into markets in Amsterdam, Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina, according to a statement. It also bulked up its health-care banking in the past month, a sector which the firm has done well given the “fortuitous” market in the past two years, according to Ettelson.
“We don’t lose people for compensation,” Ettelson said. “The partnership element provides a kind of a cherry on top from the compensation, which just makes this an attractive destination for a lot of talented people in the industry.”
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