This month, we sat down with Bob McCormack of Murphy McCormack Capital Advisors. Bob founded Murphy McCormack Capital Advisors in 2005, a business advisory service company specializing in sell-side advisory, buy-side advisory, business valuations, financing placement, and highly selective business turnaround advisory services. They focus on middle-market companies, typically annual revenues of between $2,000,000 to $75,000,000, mainly in Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic states. He is the former president & chief executive officer of SunBank, a regional financial services company with more than $1 Billion in assets. As CEO, he negotiated and implemented numerous acquisitions. With more than 25 years of financial services experience, Bob also has extensive financing expertise and contacts. Bob has attained the designations of Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA), Merger & Acquisition Master M&A advisor (M & AMI), and Certified M&A advisor.
Tell us about your pre-M&A career and how it led to you to doing this work.
I began my career working for the Reading Phillies (Philadelphia’s AA affiliate) as the head groundskeeper and assistant business manager while attending college. After graduation I joined CoreStates Bank (now Wells Fargo) in their training program. After the program, I became a commercial banker and worked in various markets for CoreStates (CS). After CS was sold to First Union, I joined SunBank (now FNB), as chief lending officer and later CEO. The bank was a turnaround and I executed a turnaround strategy that included nine acquisitions and an ultimate sale. I always enjoyed the M&A part of the business both as a commercial lender and as the CEO. After the sale I considered joining some of the larger banks focused on M&A firms but saw a niche in the lower middle market in central Pennsylvania and started our firm.
What personal characteristics and strengths have supported your success in this industry?
I believe the lifelong learning focus I received from Alvernia College has been critical. CS and Sun both had a strong client-centered servant leadership structure and I hoped to bring that philosophy to a transactional culture.
What is your greatest M&A accomplishment?
There are two. The first was the sale of Sun. As a turnaround we had our challenges and yet I was able to get a deal done (prior to the last recession) that was priced in the top 1% of all bank deals. The second was the “deal from hell.” Despite that, we achieved a positive outcome for our client, and the buyer has thrived, along with the company’s employees.
Do you just do M&A or do you provide other services – valuations, consulting, etc.?
We do primarily M&A, however, we have a thriving valuation practice with three CVA’s on our team. We also do some advisory and corporate turnaround work as well.
What is the biggest mistake you have made when working on a deal?
Not accessing the character of our client before the engagement, or, ignoring my gut on their character.
What are the three most important qualities that you think a good M&A advisor needs to have?
Commitment to lifelong learning, being humble but confident, integrous.
What is your most interesting deal that you are working on today?
We are working on merging two equal companies in terms of value and then selling to a private equity firm.
How long have you been an M&A Source member and what do you get out of your membership?
I have been a member for at least 10 years. The M&A Source’s education program, workshops, relationships I’ve built, and learning from the best of the industry have helped me immensely in my practice.
As a seasoned M&A advisor, what changes and trends do you see on the horizon that will impact on M&A?
I believe we will begin to see a move away from the independent-contractor model for mid-sized firms and more to an employee-model with some of these firms developing formal partnerships with banks and CPA firms.
What advice would you give to new people entering the profession?
Join M&A Source or IBBA. Get involved, ask questions, be humble, take university corporate finance and economic classes or get an MBA. Never compromise your integrity for a deal!
Please tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with your M&A work?
I am an active tennis player and have coached high school boys and girl’s tennis in the past. I have given it up this last year due to a combination of work and M&A Source conflicts but still enjoy playing and coaching. (All three of my children played high school tennis!) I remain active and I still play doubles and singles with my college doubles partner weekly.