Chicago-based investment bank Uplift Partners recently chose to partner with Finalis Securities as their broker-dealer. We spoke with Victor Culiuc, a Managing Director at Uplift Partners, to learn more about their journey with Finalis and their experience running a client’s recent growth equity round on the Finalis platform end-to-end.
Finalis made it easier for Uplift Partners to close an investment by Camden Partners, a growth equity firm, in Roshal Imaging Services, a Texas-based medical imaging company. Finalis’ technology-based workflow efficiencies including client due diligence and suitability requests and forms, allowed the Uplift team to focus on finding and bringing an equity partner to support Roshal while saving Uplift many hours of compliance and back office work in the process.
Uplift Partners is no stranger to broker-dealers. Victor and his partner Quinn Carlson have a collective 40 years in the investment banking space and have worked with multiple broker-dealers. Quinn and Victor founded Uplift with a singular mission to offer bulge bracket level advice and deal execution to high growth clients in the lower middle market which remains largely underserved by the large Wall Street banks. Uplift has been growing successfully and was looking for a broker dealer partner to support their growth. The Uplift team was impressed by a number of unique advantages that Finalis brought to managing their deal process end-to-end. Key competitive advantages to Finalis included its seamless technology-enabled workflows and concierge customer service model.
Victor shared his perspective on the current state of the industry and why the Uplift team was so attracted by Finalis’ value proposition. Investment banking is an industry that is ripe for disruption. The industry thrives on proprietary, firm-specific workflows that are difficult to scale and are generally poorly equipped to leverage technology and workflow efficiencies with multiple stakeholders.
The Uplift team noticed that Finalis is disrupting this older model by focusing on how to move the M&A and capital raise process forward with greater technology-enabled workflow efficiencies. This new focus has the benefit of making it easier and more efficient to manage client transactions end-to-end while maintaining an exceptionally high standard for compliance throughout, which is something everyone in the industry can benefit from.”
Easy on-boarding, seamless integration, and workflow efficiency
“Working with Finalis has felt seamless. Most of the compliance workflow that was manual and required a lot of paperwork before is now all online, in easy to fill out forms and documents, with very clear instructions on which requirements were necessary based on our industry and vertical. Finalis was really trying to understand every unique situation and customize our experience.
Finalis also offers legal templates, so rather than have to come up with our own legal templates and forms with or without the help of an attorney. Finalis saved us time and money with a number of templates including engagement letters for capital raises,M&A processes and more. The legal documents were all really well done, and we were able to easily customize them as necessary with a few small tweaks.”
Customer Service. A concierge model.
“At Uplift Partners, we all found Finalis’ level of customer service to be premium and at a concierge level. Finalis responds immediately to any questions and they felt more like in-house colleagues rather than third parties. For example, in order to be compliant with FINRA and SEC regulations, we had to do some configurations in order to archive our emails, and the Finalis team walked us through the entire process and we were up and running in minutes.
The compliance process and engagement letter reviews are completed very quickly. In the private markets, things need to happen quickly and because of the high number of people and companies involved in a deal, sometimes compliance can become a bottleneck. We did not want to bring a broker-dealer in-house and deal with the burdensome administrative costs of that, but we also didn’t want to always be a step behind with a traditional third party broker-dealer.
Working with Finalis felt like we had an in-house broker-dealer without the in-house administrative costs. It felt like we were a part of the same firm. Finalis seamlessly integrates into their client’s operations, enabling them to accelerate deal closings and making it faster for them to do business. This is something that means a lot to us.”
Down to earth. professional, kind and considerate.
“In today’s world, kindness and graciousness makes working easier, especially when we’re all remote. The entire Uplift Partners team found the Finalis team to have a very positive culture with strong values and a high degree of professionalism. This is something that is important in this industry and has made working together easier and more pleasant.”
How quarantine has impacted the investment banking business.
“Like many in the industry, quarantine has impacted our business. Unlike before, we’re no longer able to show up, meet clients, and shake hands. There is no personal face-to-face client time, which at first made us question — ‘how does one continue to be in front of clients and establish relationships?’
We were able to navigate through this period and experiment with new modes of connection through seamless technology and video conferencing. We realized that a lot could be accomplished through the use of technology and new workflows.
By using technology, we also took advantage of the opportunity to work through video conferencing, seamless workflows, and technology-enabled platforms like Finalis. This really helped us to move deals forward. We recently closed a ‘pandemic deal’ as it was born in March during lockdown and recently closed in September.”
Last thoughts about the industry & Finalis
“Investment banking is a highly competitive industry. To be successful as a boutique investment bank, we need to stay in front of clients pitching and executing deals while also making sure that our back office workflows are compliant. Therefore, having a broker dealer partner that brings everything to the table like technology, new and more efficient workflows, high integrity, and concierge-level speed is critical to us.
Many different investment banking functions can still be outsourced, and as we at Uplift Partners have realized in 2020, third parties that specialize in given tasks can actually do a better job than in-house teams. We are excited to continue our work with Finalis and explore how we can more deeply embed their technology into our workflows to enable us to win more mandates and close more deals!”