7 June 2023
BDA alumni newsletter | June 2023
After five good years, including the pandemic, H1 2023 has proven to be a tough environment for investment bankers, everywhere. Bad news on the doorstep: inflation, interest rate hikes, Ukraine, bank collapses, geopolitical tensions.
Fortunately, BDA came into this year with strong momentum from 2022. Our breadth of sector expertise, and the reach of our nine offices, will insulate us well. We intend to gain market share during this downturn, and selectively hire great additions to our team.
We are not complacent, and we see harder conditions in most of our markets. Nonetheless, we have also just enjoyed three record years in a row. Over the medium term, Asia will see growing M&A volumes, private equity penetration, and appreciation for the value of high-quality advice.
We have taken some significant initiatives in 2023:
- We have made a key hire, Dominik Woessner, to enter the Private Capital Advisory market, offering secondaries expertise to our sponsor clients. He previously worked on GP-led and LP-led transactions, as Head of Secondaries Asia Pacific at Lazard, and as a Managing Director at Greenhill and Thrive Alternatives
- We have hired Jeff Chen as Managing Director and Head of Technology, Greater China, based in Hong Kong. Jeff is expanding and deepening BDA’s origination and coverage of the Tech sector across Asia. Previously, he was Head of Tech Investment Banking for Asia at HSBC and, before that, a senior member of the Asia TMT investment banking team at Credit Suisse
- We have hired Alexandra Yang as Managing Director in Hong Kong. Alexandra is expanding and deepening BDA’s origination and coverage of Financial Sponsors in Asia. Before joining BDA, she headed China Financial Sponsors Coverage at Deutsche Bank, and before that at Nomura, serving global and regional sponsor clients for a decade
- We have moved into an impressive, bigger new office in Tokyo
I have just been to Tokyo where we co-hosted a wine dinner for 70 clients, with our partners at DBJ. The dinner was a great success, highlighting our sophistication and reach into senior management at leading Japanese companies, law firms and sponsors.
Our teams across Asia, as well as in New York and London, are stronger than ever. We are winning our fair share of new mandates. After a quiet first half, we have seen much increased pitch activity, with many clients eager to close transactions in H2 2023.
It’s not easy to get excited about M&A in mid-2023, since it feels as if we have to push uphill to get deals done. On the other hand, there are now plenty of emerging reasons for optimism.
So: there’s lots to play for in H2. We should be, and will be, cautious on costs for the rest of this year, but I know the markets are beginning to turn again in our favour.
I’m writing this, back in the US, eager to push forward, and actually feeling pretty bullish for H2.
We want to engage more with the astonishing array of BDA alums worldwide.
Please continue to support BDA. Refer business to us, as well as new hires, and please keep in close touch.
Alumni in Focus
For our fourth Alumni in Focus, we would like to highlight Jordan Selleck, who worked at BDA for 6 years (Dec 2009-Feb 2016). He and his wife now run a digital marketing firm called 51 Labs, which focuses on private equity, investment banking, and the broader private capital community.
What have you been up to lately in business?
We do US$50k-US$100k marketing projects for private equity firms, portcos, lenders, investment banks, VCs, and hedge funds. Over the past 5 years, we’ve done 50+ projects, from strategy and video, to websites and LinkedIn posts.
The road to get here was painful. After leaving BDA in Feb 2016, I wandered for six months trying to find a business to start, and my wife was pregnant with our first child. Zero entrepreneurial experience, no real good ideas…all. I knew is that I wanted to start a business.
The first business started in 2016 and was called DebtMaven, a debt financing platform connecting PE firms with lenders. I had never done a debt deal at BDA, and the business was another person’s idea, but he didn’t want to quit his job for it. We raised $175k from 3 angels, put 55 deals and $650m on the platform, and closed 3 deals for $150m. However, I made virtually every mistake as a first-time founder, from not raising enough and focusing on sales vs product, to hiring mistakes and losing focus.
In 2017, I also co-founded our first non-profit, Elite Meet, which helped Navy SEALS get jobs. That grew to 1,000 members with $2m of donations and sponsorship, and 200 vets got jobs. My co-founder and I split in 2018, which led to starting 51 Vets to continue working with veterans. That is now a 501c3 with over 200 members.
DebtMaven ran out of money in late 2018, so my wife pushed me to move on. It had been three long years as an entrepreneur, and our family bank account was running on fumes. “Jing cried again” was a recurring journal entry for years. We reached a breaking point. To make ends meet, I asked former customers if I could do LinkedIn posts and videos for them. It was an uphill battle because PE firms and the broader industry didn’t think marketing was necessary. I also had no clue what to charge or how to position the services because I didn’t work at a marketing firm before. It was all new.
To hedge my second entrepreneurial bet, I applied for jobs at PE firms to run BD and came across an opening at MiddleGround Capital. Although they didn’t hire me, MiddleGround would become one of our largest customers for two years. When one door closed, another opened.
The business took off in 2019, we built back our bank account, had our second child, and did my first marathon, but that momentum came to a halt in March 2020 when the pandemic started. All projects stopped and, once again, were in crisis mode. Laid off our first employee and didn’t know where to go. We started to get projects again, selling $5k and $10k where we could, but it was survival mode.
In 2021-2022, six years into entrepreneurship, we finally started to hit our stride.
Today, my wife and I work together, train for triathlons together, volunteer together, and spend more time together than ever before. The best hours during the day, most days during the week, are spent with the person I care most about. This is what we worked so hard for.
What inspired you to go down this journey?
I’ve wanted to be an entrepreneur since childhood when I read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.” I was always selling stuff to neighbors from bread and liquid glucosamine, to popcorn and yard work. Another driving force was the simple fact that I could never get into the institutions and companies that I wanted, so I had to create my own path.
2.79 college GPA, failing business calculus 3 times, failing accounting then getting a “D” to pass college. Yep, never got into management consulting or banking out of college.
In 2016, I thought the title of “entrepreneur” was sexy and “employee” was equal to bad, 4-letter words. Then reality set in with the lack of financial security, the emotional highs and lows, the uncertainty, and the insecurity.
Six years into the journey, I’ve matured as an entrepreneur and now realize that I’m an entrepreneur because it’s the best vehicle that I can find for our family to control the most precious resource we have: time.
Any words of wisdom for current BDA hires?
Deals come and go. Bonuses come and go. Promotions come and go. Relationships and your reputation last a career. When I attend conferences today like ACG DealMax, I see people that I’ve known for ten years. They moved from firm to firm, but our relationship stayed intact. You can recover from a bad deal, but it’s hard to recover from a bad reputation.
Gratitude & Perspective.
“Here comes another Friday night fire drill for a pitch or deal that won’t go anywhere.” Before you go down that slippery slope of cynicism, pause and ask yourself, “What would the 38-year-old version of me say to the 24-year-old version?” I think the older, wiser person might say, “You are doing more than a buyer list or a pitch deck or a DDQ; you are developing a craft, you are sharpening your sword, and that takes hundreds of repetitions.” Careers are not sprints; they are marathons.
Never give up.
Nov 24, 2009
“…I am sorry to say that it’s bad news and we cannot now offer you a position, permanent or temporary, here in New York. However, I have been impressed by you in many regards and I wish you luck in your search. I also recommend you keep working away at improving your financial skills.” – Charlie
“…If it is about the flight cost, then I will pay for it. If it is about salary, then I will accept an internship with no salary. The bottom line is that I will do whatever it takes to learn this business and learn from you and Euan…”
“Ok. Get yourself on a plane. We will pay you US$1.5k a month for December…If December goes well, we’ll pay you US$2k for January.”
If you believe in yourself, never give up, never give in. As my mom once said, “If someone says ‘No,’ just ask another way, ask another day, or ask another person.”
Do you miss anything from BDA? How did BDA equip you for your current success?
BDA changed my life. I travelled the world doing deals with BDA. It was my window to the world and taught me to take a global perspective. When I think about how we lead our company 51 Labs, I always think about the impact BDA had and the lives we can change.
BDA is more than a company; BDA is a way of life.
Feel free to reach out on LinkedIn!
BDA Offsite 2023
A few weeks ago, 148 BDA employees met in Bali for the first firm-wide offsite in four years. The last offsite we had in Shanghai back in April 2019 only had 107 people, so for many, it was the first time they’d met some of their team face-to-face.
Our mornings were filled with workshops and ExCom sessions where we celebrated our considerable success through varied economic conditions and compared notes on how to navigate these strange times. We were joined by special guests, including BDA’s co-founder Charlie Maynard, William Blair’s Head of Global Operations, Andrew Hendrie, and BDA’s Senior Advisor in Jakarta, Ivy Santoso.
The team-building activities were a perfect mix of culture and sport and the highlights included:
- The WomenBDA activity, led by wellness consultant and coach, Sharni Quinn. 55 women attended the WBDA session and practiced different types of yoga, including partner yoga, where they built confidence and trust with each other.
- The Balinese Melukat Ceremony. The Melukat ceremony is a ritual to cleanse the body, both spiritually and physically. A group of BDA employees joined a healer who taught a mantra and splashed the group with water. They walked down to the beach and bathed in the ocean at Canna Beach for the blessing. It was just what the group needed before dancing the night away at The Cave nightclub in Club Canna.
- The beach Olympics. 16 teams competed for the gold medal in the 2023 BDA Beach Olympics. The sports included beach volleyball, archery, cornhole, captain’s ball and tug-o-war. This is where the true BDA competitive spirit came alive.
- Build-a-bike. During the offsite the CSR activity was combined with several cultural traditions. We were arranged into groups, and we learned and practiced a number of Balinese traditions, including the air cannon target, drumming, and Balinese dance. After successfully completing one of these activities, each group collected a part for a bike. After a few rounds, the teams manage to collect all the parts to construct a children’s bike. In total, we built 25 bikes which were then donated to a local orphanage, Panti Asuhan Sidhi Astu.
Other activities included an amazing race across Bali, a cooking class and white water rafting.
At BDA, it’s our vision to build collaborative teams that seamlessly connect with each other across our nine offices. It’s during our offsites that true friendships are made, which strengthens the communication amongst the teams and ensures that deals will get done, regardless of where the team is located around the world.
This year in Bali we laughed, we learned and we met new friends, but most importantly, we had a good time with our fellow BDA employees.
Get in touch
If you have anything you want to share with us and the alumni community, to know more about the program, or to be featured, please get in touch with any of the Managing Partners or through one of the following channels:
Louise Douglas, Marketing Director
About BDA Partners
BDA Partners is the global investment banking advisor for Asia. We are a premium provider of Asia-related advice to sophisticated clients globally, with over 25 years’ experience advising on cross-border M&A, capital raising, and financial restructuring. We provide global reach with our teams in New York and London, and true regional depth through our seven Asian offices in Mumbai, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo. BDA has deep expertise in the Chemicals, Consumer & Retail, Health, Industrials, Services, Sustainability and Technology sectors. We work relentlessly to earn our clients’ trust by delivering insightful advice and outstanding outcomes. BDA Partners has strategic partnerships with William Blair, a premier global investment banking business, and with DBJ (Development Bank of Japan), a Japanese government-owned bank with US$150bn of assets.
US securities transactions are performed by BDA Partners’ affiliate, BDA Advisors Inc, a broker-dealer registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). BDA Advisors Inc. is a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and SIPC. In the UK, BDA Partners is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). In Hong Kong, BDA Partners (HK) Ltd is licensed and regulated by the Securities & Futures Commission (SFC) to conduct Type 1 and Type 4 regulated activities to professional investors. www.bdapartners.com
About BDA Partners
BDA Partners is the global investment banking advisor for Asia. We are a premium provider of Asia-related advice to sophisticated clients globally, with over 25 years’ experience advising on cross-border M&A, capital raising, and financial restructuring. We provide global reach with our teams in New York and London, and true regional depth through our seven Asian offices in Mumbai, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo. BDA has deep expertise in the Chemicals, Consumer & Retail, Health, Industrials, Services and Technology sectors. We work relentlessly to earn our clients’ trust by delivering insightful advice and outstanding outcomes.
BDA Partners has strategic partnerships with William Blair, a premier global investment banking business, and with DBJ (Development Bank of Japan), a Japanese Government-owned bank with US$150bn of assets. bdapartners.com