Finding the best investment banker to represent your company

  • Posted March 29, 2024 by

On occasion, corporate CEOs ask if we can help find the best investment bank to represent them in either a capital raise, recapitalization or exit.

In an M&A transaction, it’s important to have the right banker on your team to maximize your desired outcome and to ensure a smooth process. So, what should you look for?

Typical Deal Size

The banker should not only understand investment banking and the deal process in general, but should also consistently be closing deals about the same size as your company. If the banker you are considering has done deals “up to $100 million” but typically works on $5 - $20 million deals and your deal is $75 million, you probably have the wrong banker. Conversely, if the banking firm consistently works on deal of $100+ million, you may not get the full attention you would expect because your deal is too small for that firm.

Match your company size to the investment bank’s typical deal size.

Relevant Industry Expertise

A lot of bankers are generalists (“industry agnostic” as they call it). A case can be made that a generalist represents the best interests of the client rather than the banker’s network of industry connections. That said, I suggest that a banker with an active professional network in a specific industry will have a better chance of maximizing value simply by finding the right buyer. They know the players. They understand the industry. They have the network.

Because tracks the general industry preferences of the various investment banks, our database is a great way to filter the firms by relevant industry expertise.

Personal Rapport

As with any project, you want to work with a team that you enjoy. If you find that you are unsettled by the demeanor of a banker in the early meetings, you have the wrong banker. Everyone has their own personal and professional style. Choose the banker that will represent your company in the way that you want to be presented to the market. Some bankers are aggressive. Some are easy-going. Some are more approachable. Be sure your banker’s demeanor aligns with your corporate culture.

Good References

Always ask for references. Even though the banker will surely give you their best references, talk to them anyway. You never know what you might learn. Also, be sure to ask for at least one reference where the deal did not close. Seek to understand what went wrong and if the client-banker relationship remained on good terms after an unsuccessful outcome. This will likely be your most insightful reference.


Sometimes location really does matter. Some industries are geographically concentrated such that it just makes sense to hire a banker in the “right” region. For example, if your company operates in the oil and gas sector in Texas, you should hire a banker in the Gulf Coast region. They will likely have better connections in this industry than a banker located elsewhere.

Further, smaller companies should engage a banker located closer to the company. Logistically, for smaller deals, it can be cost prohibitive to travel back and forth to get a deal done.

Proper Licensing

It should go without saying that any professional representing your company should be properly licensed to do what they are being asked to do. That said, many firms and individuals are unregistered. I strongly suggest that you only use proper FINRA registered agents with solid track records. You can easily verify a banker’s licensing, credentials and employment history using the FINRA Broker Check tool at

Reasonable Fees

“Reasonable” is subjective. Most mid-market banks will charge an upfront fee that is creditable to the success fee. Most banks will outline an expected travel budget for the deal that will require your pre-approval. Some banks will also require a monthly retainer fee.

The only way to know if a fee schedule is “reasonable” is to get proposals from several banks and compare them. “Reasonable” scales a lot, depending on the difficulty of the assignment. Perhaps your valuation expectations are high or the company is distressed or there is some element to the deal that might make it more challenging than normal. Be aware, the presence and amount of a monthly retainer fee may be indicative of the banker’s expectation of a successful outcome.

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