Investment Banking in the COVID Era


Written by Finalis

Last edited on Feb 28, 2023

2 min read

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It’s impossible to predict — let alone control — when the next crisis will hit.

But you can control how you respond to it.

A rare positive story from the pandemic is the journey investment banking has taken navigating the shock of COVID-19 — like quickly adapting to the demands of virtual work and, now, fully embracing a hybrid work model.

Gaurav Bhasin, Managing Director at Allied Advisers, has engaged in cross-border investment banking throughout his entrepreneurial career and sees the challenges of the last three years as an opportunity to push the industry forward and adapt to the needs of clients.

Gaurav joined the show to discuss:

  • Challenges pre- and post-COVID-19 in investment banking
  • How adapting to a virtual world created a new hybrid-work landscape
  • The road forward for investment banking

Overcoming challenges in investment banking

It’s no secret that we are living through some turbulent times.

We’ve just experienced a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, supply chains have melted down, an aggressive invasion has led to a bloody European war, and inflation is reaching highs not seen in more than half a century.

Yet, for Gaurav — and the investment banking space he works in — the steady stream of uncertainty is just providing new challenges to overcome in an already demanding sector. Navigating the currents offers new learning opportunities, inspires creative problem solving and builds resilience.

Across his career, Gaurav’s had to weather multiple crises and each time, he’s come through it stronger than before. In part, because he knows he needs to take charge of the things he can control, rather than let himself be paralyzed by the ones he can’t.

“You can't control the external factors, but you should control the things that are within your power.” — Gaurav Bhasin.

Gaurav’s emblematic of his field in that regard. Investment banking, like so many other industries, had to quickly adapt to the hard realities of COVID-19. And for those that struggled, Gaurav was more than happy to offer his outlook and advice, sharing his wisdom online for anyone in the industry — even his competitors.

With the same enthusiasm, he frequently counseled his clients.

M&A deals are tricky to navigate in the best of times. But through the pandemic, he often found himself calming panicked clients, whom he would advise to cut their spending and wait for the rebound.

It was almost always good advice that paid off, especially for his clients in the tech sector. And for him, too — he closed nearly 20 deals during the pandemic.  

The new model for work

Of course, we can’t overlook the fact that Gaurav was making these new deals in a socially-distanced world, adapting to virtual work like so many others.

This is perhaps the most striking example of the sector’s resilience and adaptability.

In an industry where high-value deals are often expected to be negotiated face-to-face — person-to-person — striking deals over video could have been seen as a death-blow.

But as Gaurav points out, there are many benefits to the technology.

“There’s a lot of efficiency gained with virtual work.” — Gaurav Bhasin.

That’s why he and many others are shifting to a hybrid model over a full return to the office.

Being able to leverage the efficiencies the digital world offers, while still getting the power of in-person interaction, gives you more tools you can use to build stronger relationships internationally.

The road ahead

Gaurav, who is well-versed in cross-border transactions, stresses the importance of investment bankers thinking globally these days.

Advancing technology in the post-COVID era has led to more of the world adopting a Silicon-Valley-like entrepreneurial mindset.

“Digital transformation is happening. Companies are realizing they need to invest in these technologies so they can be part of the acceleration ahead.” — Gaurav Bhasin.

Of course, the need to do business globally also means understanding the cultural nuances in how deals are made across borders.

And investment bankers would do well to learn the cultural nuances, and strengths and weaknesses, of various geographies before doing business there.

There are also the time-zone differences to account for — which Gaurav admits can be tiring, but rewarding, when he finds himself waking up early meeting with European clients. Building rapport internationally is an important skill set that comes with experience.

Building that experience is well-worth it, though — it leads to a virtuous cycle that results in more deals as word of mouth spreads.

Gaurav’s favorite part of the job, though, is the unique story behind every equally unique client. The breadth of knowledge he has gained from, and the relationships he has built with, clients across the global tech world is invaluable.

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