The Little Investment Bank That Could

  • The Little Engine That CouldThe Find: In this difficult economic climate, how did brand new investment bank Moelis & Co. grow into a successful 150 person firm over the last 15 months? In this podcast, founder Kenneth D. Moelis explains how he did it.
  • The Source: Knowledge@Wharton from the Wharton Business School.
The Takeaway: Everyone can use a little positivity on a Friday, but in the current business climate it can be hard to come by. Knowledge@Wharton is filling the optimism gap with a lengthy interview with Kenneth D. Moelis, the smart and straight talking founder of Moelis & Co., a new investment bank founded in July 2007. The firm's back to basics approach stresses the relationship aspect of investment banking and has so far proved profitable.

The podcast begins with a discussion of the current financial crisis and Moelis's predictions for the immediate future, but then launches into a discussion of the firm's business model, which Moelis characterizes as "no business model" and "no product du jour." Instead, at Moelis, all eyes are trained on genuinely serving the client. As Moelis declares: "the client will make you successful." In a world of 20,000 employee strong investment banks and bankers flogged by endless reviews, targets and bonuses, it's a radical (if not new fangled) idea, and one that seems to be working, even amid the wreckage of the financial industry.

The podcast offers many more insights on the firm's future plans (Show me someone with a five-year plan and I'll show you a fool), recruiting (Forget smarts, it's the investment banker that cares the most who wins), and moving into emerging markets, among other topics.

The Question: What, if anything, is keeping you optimistic through this extraordinarily difficult period?

(Image of the little engine that could by cliff1066, CC 2.0)