It was recently fashionable to join a corporate finance boutique. So many people wanted to do it that houses like Fenchurch Advisory Partners said they were ‘inundated with unsolicited applications at all levels.’ But following first quarter results, joining a boutique doesn’t seem as trend setting.
In the first quarter, most investment banks were buoyed by shenanigans related to fixed income, and corporate finance houses were unable to participate. It did not help that announced and completed M&A in Europe fell 42% and 34% respectively.
As a result, boutiques and corporate finance focused investment banks appear to have had a bad start to the year. Boutiques are largely privately held affairs and don’t disclose their figures, but houses like Lazard and Greenhill do. Revenues at Lazard fell 42% year on year in the first quarter and it made a loss of $54m. Revenues at Greenhill fell 6% and profits were down 28%.
It’s not that bad. Goldman and Morgan Stanley also saw their first quarter advisory revenues fall by 10% or more. And a poor three months doesn’t appear to have dented Lazard’s ardour for expansion: it has ‘accelerated its global hiring initiative at a senior level’ according to Bruce Wasserstein. This week’s results may, however, make people think twice about working for him.