For public equity analysts, M&A is nothing new. One of their main jobs is to conduct financial analyses of companies and other potential investments. However, M&A execution is another story. Let’s explore how a public equity analyst evolves to executing M&A, featuring Greg Stein, Vice President of M&A and Ventures at Xerox, as he shares his experiences.
“You don’t need to have a certain type of background to be successful in a role. You need the basic skills, but ultimately, it all depends on what type of person you are, what drives and motivates you.” – Greg Stein
According to Greg, being a public equity analyst has helped him be more focused on one sector, as compared to traditional corporate development. Also, he was constantly digging into companies and finding their value in his previous role, which makes M&A very familiar. However, there is a learning curve when it comes to execution, especially on the legal side of deals. To bridge this gap, Greg relied on his team and learned from them as he executed deals.
Having spent so many years focusing on companies and their market position, being a PE analyst has helped Greg evaluate the credibility of a company’s story and if their trajectory makes sense. This particular skill helps the company avoid pitfalls and a considerable amount of debt.
One of the biggest adjustments coming from a PE background is the fact that they only focused on high-level financials without much consideration of integration planning. In M&A, it is a crucial ingredient for success, regardless of how much is paid.
Because of this, Greg likes to involve the integration leader pre-LOI and construct a preliminary integration timeline. This includes day-one plans, setting long-term goals, and identifying synergies and KPIs. Then they work backward, thinking about what could go wrong in the deal, to ensure everything runs smoothly.
For people who want to transition, Greg highlights the advantages of getting the broader perspectives that it provides. However, there will be a learning curve when it comes to comprehending the mindset of an operator. Here are some of the things one must learn to do when transitioning to an M&A role.
1. Interpersonal Skills - Communicating with numerous people within an organization, both internally and externally, is a crucial part of this role. Reaching out proactively is one of the best ways to succeed in corporate development.
2. Being Organized - In a corporate development role, there will be many conversations and tasks to complete. One must be extremely organized to avoid forgetting steps and deliverables during an M&A process. It is why Greg has learned to lean on checklists as part of his team management.
3. Team Collaboration- Unlike roles in public markets, an M&A position is highly team-oriented. This aspect of the role necessitates the leveraging of the team for enhanced efficiency and effectiveness. Collaborating with team members can also help fill gaps where one might lack expertise.