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3 Questions with Steve McLaughlin of FT Partners

By Cindy Taylor

FintekNews is pleased to offer our weekly feature column "3 Questions". Each week, we feature a thought leader within a unique sector of fintech and ask them to answer just 3 questions for our audience in their vernacular. This week, we'd like to introduce you to Steve McLaughlin, Founder & CEO of FT Partners, an investment banking firm focused exclusively on the financial technology sector. Steve was formerly a senior investment banker in Goldman Sachs & Co.'s Financial Technology Group and Financial Institutions Group in New York and San Francisco.

NAME: Steve McLaughlin
TITLE: Founder & CEO
COMPANY: FT Partners
WEB ADDRESS: www.ftpartners.com

How did you personally become involved in FinTech?

I got my first real taste of FinTech as a banker in Goldman Sachs' Financial Institutions Group (FIG) in the mid '90's. A number of the largest financial institutions in the world are Goldman clients and they were starting to ask us questions about how the internet and technology were going to impact financial services and their businesses and how they should be positioning themselves. Through these conversations, I quickly realized that the financial services industry was about to face a multi-decade reinvention and I set out to become an expert on FinTech. Initially, I was informally anointed the “FinTech guy” within Goldman's FIG group and was continually brought into client meetings to talk to large FIs about what was happening in FinTech and before long, I became the official head / co-head of Goldman's Financial Technology practice.

It didn't take long to realize that large-scale disruption and innovation were not going to come from the large FI's, but rather from the smaller and more nimble startups that were going to create entirely new infrastructure. Recognizing that this was a market Goldman was not well positioned to serve, I made the decision to branch out on my own to start a dedicated investment bank focused exclusively on FinTech. The decision to leave Godman and to launch Financial Technology Partners (FT Partners) in 2002 proved to be incredibly timely as the subsequent evolution of FinTech has reshaped the global financial services landscape. I'm proud of the fact that FT Partners has a small but critical role in helping our clients maximize value along the way and we firmly believe that FinTech will stand the test of time as technology continues to reshape the marketplace.

What does your firm do/offer within the FinTech sector?

FT Partners is a boutique investment bank focused exclusively on the best companies in the FinTech sector. As an investment bank, we provide a number of services, but the vast majority of our deals are either helping companies raise capital or helping companies sell themselves. By relentlessly focusing only on FinTech, we have developed very deep domain expertise across all areas of the financial services technology ecosystem. By combining our deep domain expertise with our extensive transaction experience gained through successfully executing hundreds of transactions, we are able to offer FinTech companies of all sizes an unrivaled suite of strategic and financial advisory services.

We differentiate our services through our domain expertise, our knowledge of our clients' businesses and our extensive relationships across the industry. We spend enormous amounts of time learning about our clients and developing a deep understanding of their market opportunity. We are also constantly speaking with both investors and strategics and learning what they are looking for so we are able to more easily match companies and investors and buyers with sellers. In addition, we are continually publishing world-class research highlighting key trends driving market activity across the FinTech landscape, which not only helps our clients, but also helps us internally become smarter and stay ahead of the curve of this fast moving industry.

What is your role within your firm and what do you do there on any given day?

My passion for FinTech really stems from the entrepreneurial spirit that runs deep across all of FinTech and we continue to think about — and operate — FT Partners with a startup mentality even though we're about to celebrate our 15 year anniversary. So on any given day, I'm constantly thinking about how we continue to grow the firm and maintain our leadership position in FinTech banking in a way that never compromises the quality of execution for our clients. The best firms are able to maintain that entrepreneurial focus and drive.

Whether it's spending time with candidates during the recruiting process, reviewing the tireless work of our team on a client deliverable, or negotiating a critical deal point on a multi-billion dollar transaction, I'm continually thinking about how all of our decisions and actions impact the Firm, our employees and our clients in a balanced way. Our firm is comprised of almost 75 people and I'm probably most proud of the fact that we've managed to maintain our culture as a relatively nimble and entrepreneurial Firm where each employee has a direct and meaningful contribution to our clients and the Firm as a whole.

Our clients consistently praise the hard work and dedication of our team and our results, and none of this would be possible without our collective focus on delivering the absolute best results for our clients and your employees have to have the same level of passion to maintain that level of standard and execution. As the CEO and Managing Partner, I work closely with our leadership team to make sure we're setting positive examples for our bankers and reinforcing the core entrepreneurial spirit that has helped our Firm become one of the most successful boutique banks in the world as we continue to expand deeper into the FinTech eco-system.


Steve McLaughlin is Managing Partner of Financial Technology Partners LP and FTP Securities LLC ("FT Partners"), the only investment banking firm focused exclusively on the financial technology sector. FT Partners was recently recognized as "Dealmaker of the Year" and "Investment Banking Firm of the Year" by The M&A Advisor.


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