Solomon Partners, a prestigious financial advisory company with a history as one of the earliest independent investment banks, is led by Marc S. Cooper as its CEO.
Solomon Partners received a strategic investment from Natixis in 2016, the worldwide corporate and investment banking, asset management, insurance, and financial services branch of Groupe BPCE, under the leadership of Mr. Cooper. Solomon Partners’ clients have expanded access to global advisory services and exclusive financial resources across Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and the Americas thanks to the partnership with Natixis.
Under Mr. Cooper’s leadership, Solomon Partners has experienced significant growth and diversified sector coverage and today serves clients across a broad range of industries, including Consumer Retail; Financial Sponsors; FinTech; Grocery, Pharmacy & Restaurants; Healthcare; Infrastructure, Power & Renewables; and Technology, Media & Telecommunications.
Below are highlights of the interview conducted between World’s Leaders and Marc S. Cooper:
Describe your background and what did you do before you started/joined the company?
When I was a junior in high school, I told my father, who became a stockbroker later in life, that I wanted to follow in his footsteps. He suggested I become an investment banker instead, and I decided to pursue that path.
After obtaining both my BA and MBA from New York University, I began my investment banking career at Kidder Peabody. From there, I co-founded and served as Vice Chairman of Barington Capital Group, where I oversaw the firm’s investment banking operations.
After joining Solomon 23 years ago as a partner and managing director, I served as Vice Chairman for three years before being appointed CEO in 2016. Earlier that year, I led a transaction with Natixis, which is part of Groupe BPCE, a top 10 European bank, in which Natixis made a strategic investment in Solomon. The partnership has helped us significantly expand the firm since 2016, from 35 bankers to more than 140, and the number of industries we serve from two to 14.
Tell us about the inception of the company. How did it all start?
Solomon Partners is the oldest private independent investment banking firm still in existence and was created to incorporate the ethos and culture of the traditional investment banks with the entrepreneurial spirit of a collective partnership.
The firm was founded in 1989 as the Peter J. Solomon Company by Mr. Solomon, and he continues to serve as the firm’s Chairman. Previously, Mr. Solomon was Vice Chairman of Lehman Brothers, where he was Chairman of its Merchant Banking Division and Co-Chairman of the Investment Banking Division.
What are the primary service offerings of the company and how do they help the company get ahead of its competition?
We advise clients on mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, restructurings, recapitalizations, capital markets solutions, and activism defense across a range of industries. These include:
- Business Services
- Consumer Retail
- Financial Sponsors
- Grocery, Pharmacy & Restaurants
- Infrastructure, Power & Renewables
- Technology, Media & Telecommunications
Through our partnership with Natixis, we can also provide clients with global advisory services and proprietary access to financing capabilities throughout Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and the Americas.
We get ahead of the competition by offering unmatched industry knowledge in the sectors we cover, creating superior value through unrivaled wisdom.
What are the most important aspects of a company’s culture? What principles do you believe in and how do you build this culture?
Solomon Partners’ culture is built on honesty, integrity, and a collective commitment to providing clients with sound, unbiased advice. We are guided on a daily basis by these values and pursue them in a collaborative environment that promotes excellence and creativity.
For many years, our firm has focused on creating an open, collaborative, and educational environment, and we work hard to maintain a workplace where respect and professionalism are not just valued but expected. Solomon has built this culture by seeking out employees with strong ethical foundations. We treat our colleagues the way they deserve to be treated, and we don’t tolerate bad actors.
What is the significance of innovative ideas in the company?
I’m a believer in the old adage, innovate or die. I am always on the lookout for ways to improve the way we do things, and that includes staying abreast of the latest innovations in everything from technology and office design to the way we interact with clients. That’s led us to overhaul our workspaces to create an office designed for the future and make sure our employees have the training, resources, and technology to work at their full capacity wherever they are.
I also invite input from staff at all levels. A key driver of Solomon’s success is that we’re not only open to innovation, but we actively encourage it.
Give us your opinion on; do organizations rely heavily on individual heroics or team processes?
As my colleague Joe Stein – who has been with the firm for over 20 years – likes to say, “there’s no I in team.” Solomon Partners is very much what our name implies: a partnership. We support one another because that’s what’s best for our staff and for our clients.
Solomon has a very collaborative environment. Our hard-working analysts are as much a part of our success as their more seasoned teammates. From my perspective, everyone who gives their very best is a hero here at Solomon.
What are your responsibilities as the Founder/CEO of the company? What is the happiest part of your daily routine?
As CEO at Solomon, I am responsible for not only leading the firm, but also setting the strategic direction. Given that we are in growth mode, I am a steward of the firm’s expansion. I also believe it’s vital to serve as a role model by setting a good example, striving to do my best and making myself available to assist colleagues. If a senior banker asks me to meet with a client or prospect, I’m there. If a junior banker asks for guidance on their career path, I provide it. If our Chief People Officer wants me to volunteer with our interns on a park improvement project, I roll up my sleeves.
The happiest part of my daily routine is mentoring my colleagues. It gives me great pleasure to see them grow and succeed.
What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
The top tips I would provide to people in their first leadership post – as well as someone just getting started in banking – is to succeed you have to love what you do, and you should “work to live, not live to work.” It’s vital to take care of yourself and keep things in perspective. To be successful in banking, it’s critical to strike that balance and those that don’t generally flame out fast.
Written by Steve Sanchez.