Truist’s new investment-banking head says he’s adopting a ‘mindset of disruption’ to take on Wall Street’s elite

Truist’s new investment-banking head says he’s adopting a ‘mindset of disruption’ to take on Wall Street’s elite

  • Truist’s new head of investment banking wants market share from Wall Street’s biggest banks.
  • Michael Carter joins the sixth-largest bank in the US from RBC Capital Markets.
  • Tackling dealflow and growing the investment banking team to avoid banker burnout is key for Carter.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Michael Carter, who dubs himself an “old G” in the world of banking, is tasked with, arguably, one of the industry’s more intriguing roles.

He’s one week into leading Truist Securities’ investment and corporate banking arm, and keen to disrupt Wall Street’s status quo.

Truist, the result of a 2019 merger between regional banks BB&T and SunTrust, is now building out its investment banking business. It wants to compete in high-profile corporate lending and M&A advisory services with bulge-bracket firms like JPMorgan and Bank of America, and also fight for share in the US capital markets where Goldman Sachs and boutique competitors such as Jefferies rake in millions of dollars in fees.

“Truist has the mindset of disruption, taking share, and it has proven momentum,” Carter told Insider.

The bank, the US’ sixth-largest in total assets, does, however, have a steep mountain to climb.

It ranked 14th in US syndicated loans in 2020, and did not crack the top 20 in US investment-grade corporate bonds, or US equity capital markets last year, according to data from Refinitiv. Truist did, however, rank 12th as a lead on US high-yield bond deals in 2020, up from 14th in 2019, and cracked the top 10 in bookrunners for US leveraged loans last year, the data showed.

US lenders’ investment-banking divisions have seen revenue soar in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, as accommodative monetary policy and buoyant stock markets propelled a frenzy of transactions throughout the capital markets.

Truist’s investment banking and trading income jumped $222 million to $340 million on the back of strong income from equity originations, loan syndications, and asset securitization transactions.

The investment bank buttressed Truist’s overall income last quarter, which hit $2.2 billion, up from about $2 billion at the same point last year.

“The market’s fairly fragmented,” Carter said. “We want to be the bank that, when the client decides they want to choose someone else, that they wish they would’ve chosen us.”

‘Make sure you go where there is an inflection point’

Truist is also hunting for more investment bankers to join its ranks, according to Bloomberg.

While Carter could not be specific, Truist has not ruled out growth in equities, M&A, or debt capital markets. He acknowledged the need to expand “mind share,” or growth in personnel, as a key factor in winning over clients.

“That will require some investment. A lot of it will be what we see as underserved opportunities to disrupt or better serve,” Carter said.

That too, will be no easy feat. Banks are struggling to find enough bodies for their burgeoning workloads, particularly across junior and mid-level ranks, Insider previously reported.

“It’s been a busy year and that’s created some stress. Banks are having to deal with balancing work and life, particularly for our juniors,” he said.

Carter joined Truist from RBC Capital Markets, where he ran the Canadian investment bank’s technology coverage. He also did a stint at Barclays, and cut his teeth at Lehman Brothers until that “house burned down,” Carter said of Lehman’s bankruptcy in 2008.

Today, armed with a sizable balance sheet, Carter wants to help Truist grow share in a highly competitive pocket of banking.

Public M&A and complex leveraged finance deals are a sweet spot for the Harvard-educated banker, and in today’s benign market conditions, a surfeit of transactions is expected to continue.

“A professor once said to me ‘when you launch your career in banking, make sure you go where there is an inflection point.’ That really stuck with me,” Carter said.

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