Currently ranked: 1
Previously ranked: 5
When Steven McLaughlin left Goldman Sachs Group’s financial technology team in 2002 to strike out on his own, he had strong ideas about the kind of investment bank best suited to profiting from emerging opportunities in the sector. His new firm would not be in the mold of established groups on Wall Street, which tended to operate at a deliberate pace and within geographical or business-line boundaries.
McLaughlin works on multiple continents and areas of fintech, and with companies at almost any stage of maturity. “I see us as a little juggernaut,” he says of the San Francisco–based firm he founded, Financial Technology Partners.
Little? Not so much. FT Partners has grown to almost 100 people from about 75 a year ago. But juggernaut for sure: Chief executive officer McLaughlin says that FT Partners, now in its 16th year, has done 400 to 500 deals and that no other firm matches its annual pace of about 30.
A more traditional banker might scoff that those numbers are distorted by McLaughlin’s wide playing field, inclusive of companies with valuations well below those of the biggest mergers and acquisitions or even late-stage venture capital deals. To McLaughlin, that is what makes FT Partners stand out. If only he could break the bonds of capacity constraint, “we could be three to four times the size,” he says. “It’s a huge and growing space of thousands of companies. People are constantly calling on us.”
McLaughlin said in a July email blast that the firm had had a record-breaking first half of 2017, “advising on several high-profile transactions across the fintech landscape and with many more to come.” FT Partners advised AvidXchange, a business invoicing innovator, on a $300 million series F financing; software company Riskonnect on its sale to private equity firm Thoma Bravo; and online leasing platform Breeze on its sale to Ford Motor Co. More recently, FT Partners advised longtime venture-capital-backed client Swift Financial, a small-business working capital funder, on its sale to PayPal, and online lender Prosper Marketplace on a $50 million series G financing.
In a continued effort to build out domain expertise, McLaughlin last year hired Timm Schipporeit, formerly of Index Ventures and Morgan Stanley, as a managing director in London, and Melissa Wasser from Goldman Sachs to serve as head of private capital markets in New York.
Other domain-expert managing directors are San Francisco–based Paul VanderMarck, formerly head of product and global strategy at Risk Management Solutions, which provides risk models and analytics to the insurance industry; and New York–based Stephen Stout, previously global head of strategy at payments processor First Data Corp. as well as a banker focused on fintech.