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An Interview with M&A Source Member, Jack Schroeder

Over the past few months, we have been featuring award winners from the Spring M&A Source Conference in Denver. This month we hear from Jack Schroeder, a young entrant in our industry.

Jack Schroeder is an M&A Source Executive Award Winner and Associate Director with Murphy McCormack Capital Advisors. In 2020, Jack graduated with high honors from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business earning a degree in Business Administration, with a minor in Applied Analytics. Following his graduation, Jack was employed as an Associate Analyst by Skydio, a high-tech start up that designs autonomous drones. There he was responsible for building analytics tools that provided operations data to executives. As a young M&A Source member, Jack brings an enthusiasm and drive to his work.

Tell us about your pre-M&A career and how it led you to doing this work?

  • Always interested in stocks, personal finance, etc. Attended Univ. of Southern California, where I majored in business.
  • Interned for Murphy McCormack after freshman year of college. Enjoyed the finance analysis a lot but wanted to try other industries as well.
  • After sophomore year of college, I interned at a consulting firm, Blue Beyond Consulting. Liked the firm, really enjoyed the feeling of helping businesses.
  • Junior year internship at a tech firm, SignalFx (acquired by Splunk in 2019) working in sales operations. Loved working with data and enjoyed the high-paced startup environment.
  • COVID hit March 2020, two months before graduating.
  • Started interning for my previous manager (from SignalFx) at another company. Ended up accepting a full-time offer at the company for a pure data analysis role, but it turned out not to be a good fit.
  • I recruited for business positions and Murphy McCormack was my first call, but there was a potential challenge working remote. Applied for other jobs in the meantime while being considered and ultimately received three competitive offers, one being Murphy McCormack. I joined Murphy McCormack because I knew the work would be enjoyable and because I could learn from Bob, Murphy McCormack’s managing partner.
  • My career path led me to M&A/Murphy McCormack because each job developed my understanding about what I find fulfilling at work: helping clients/businesses, working on a team, performing financial/data analysis.

What personal characteristics and strengths have supported your success in this industry?

  • Curiosity/thirst for knowledge – Being interested in finance and business makes a seemingly challenging job fun.
  • Great mentors – Finding a good mentor is extremely important for skill and career development. My manager, Bob, is committed to my success/development and I have benefited from that in an enormous way.
  • Persistence – I haven’t yet achieved the success I strive for, but persistence appears to be key in most careers, especially investment banking. Based on my observations, deals originate from relationships built over decades, and transactions close because of experience/knowing what to do.
  • Luck – Luck also played a huge role for me. If I didn’t know Bob from high school tennis, I never would have interned for him and ended up working for Murphy McCormack.

What is your greatest M&A accomplishment?

  • I don’t want to count my chickens yet, but there is a sell-side deal that should close in the next couple weeks. It was a challenging turnaround situation in a very competitive industry. I participated a lot on the deal from start to finish, creating buyer-lists, calling and emailing, working with potential buyers on accessing data and submitting IOIs, and due diligence. If/when this deal closes, it would be my biggest M&A accomplishment.

With regard to the majority of your engagements, do you work as a team, or do you handle things on your own?

  • We work in deal teams at Murphy McCormack. My role is “associate director.” Directors create the CIM/Profile, buyer list, market the deal, and facilitate due diligence. We work with “relationship managers” who source the deals, market the company, and quarterback the transaction process.

Do you just do M&A, or do you provide other services – valuations, consulting, etc.?

  • We do buy-side engagements, valuations, and select M&A advisory for special situations. Our bread and butter is sell-side, though.

What is the biggest mistake you have made when working on a deal?

  • Being new to the industry, not quite appreciating the nuances of emotions of business owners.  Often it is beyond the numbers/valuation – while it may seem a simple equation from a financial perspective, the emotions of the business owner will at times outweigh logic. Learning to balance finance/logic with the owner selling their baby is a lesson learned. Working in deal teams helps keep that balance.

What are the three most important qualities that you think a good M&A advisor needs to have?

  • Goal-oriented – The investment banker is the transaction’s quarterback. He/she needs to know what the next steps are and how to get the deal to close.
  • Client-Focused – Ultimately, success comes from helping the client. Having a helpful attitude makes closing deals and acquiring new ones easier.
  • Strong relevant skills/knowledge – Advisors that know more about taxes, accounting, law, etc. seem to be successful in their careers.

What is your most interesting deal that you are working on today?

  • The turnaround deal from question 3.

How long have you been an M&A Source member and what do you get out of your membership?

  • I’ve been a member for just over a year. The network is great, and the resources are extremely relevant and well-priced for advisors working on lower-middle market sized transactions.

What changes and trends do you see on the horizon that will impact on M&A?

  • I think technology enablement will improve the M&A industry. Software has streamlined some of Murphy McCormack’s processes and improved our ability to serve clients.

What advice would you give to new people entering the profession?

  • Try to learn as much as you can now. Improve your knowledge of taxes, accounting, and law.
  • Develop a strong network of good Accountants and M&A Attorneys. They will refer deals and improve your chances of closing once due diligence starts.

Please tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with your M&A career?

  • I was a beekeeper for several years and performed research on honeybees’ ability to associate smells with food. The research is called proboscis extension reflex. We trained bees to stick their tongues out whenever they smelled lemons.
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