“Last Minute Opportunity”: That’s how your exciting Sunday usually ends as a Master of Finance student at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. After replying with a motivational letter to this email, I was granted a spot at the M&A and Private Equity Conference 2017. Being exposed to such high level guest speakers, participants and academics from this particular branch of finance added the next puzzle piece to my quest of setting out my personal career path.
The Bridge between M&A and Private Equity
Like many of my fellow MoFs my big picture plan is to start my career in M&A and after a couple of years, set out on new adventures in the Private Equity world. Under this aspect, the conference was insightful and useful for my master thesis, interview preparation and general understanding of this topic. My key takeaway however is, that it is crucial to understand that this bridge is exposed to a range of external factors. Amongst others, those are: effects of the historically low cost of debt due to continued expansionary monetary policy by western central banks, increased regulatory scrutiny on compliance topics and the changing environment in different industries due to digitalisation trends – all keeping the bridge in motion.
How the digital era challenges the M&A World
The clear focus of the speakers was the topic of digitalisation. In my opinion, the most impressive example was provided by Prof.Dr.-Ing. Stephan Reimelt from General Electric. They have acquired digital companies’ worth in total USD $2 bn to not only stay competitive in the industrial sector, but also be set up accordingly for future digital moves.
The chance here for market players is that M&A has the unique capability of allowing to quickly tap into, for example: cloud services, software platforms and data automation technologies. Instead of a corporate building a digital infrastructure from scratch, they can partner/acquire niche specialists who have a proven track record in the above fields – time is of the essence in a competitive world!
Network – your biggest asset
The conference started with a warm welcome and some even warmer coffee. FS had set up the event in such a manner that it was easy to engage in conversations with speakers as well as participants. Beyond the usual elevator speech, I could learn about the market view on the current M&A boom partially explained by the rising corporate Chinese prosperity for example. It was particularly interesting for me to hear how the Chinese M&A strategy is perceived in Germany, and vice versa as mentioned by Dr. Michael R. Drill, CEO of Lincoln International AG and Sophie Yu, Executive Director at China International Capital Corporation. Without doubt, high quality conferences like these are the place to be for finance students looking to take the next step.
My concluding thoughts on this are, networks if approached and maintained sufficiently are our biggest assets. Even if this task can be tedious at times I encourage everybody to utilise this concept to help complete the puzzle of finding the ‘right’ career start.