Director, Ryan Beck: Day in the Life

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Jeffrey Sherry, director, with Ryan Beck & Co.: "There are always a lot of hours and hard work. It's not even necessarily the hours, but the mental acuity required to really keep on top of things. It's the capacity to do a lot in a short amount of time."

How did you get to be director here?

Well, I started with a good foundation. I graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in economics, with concentrations in accounting and finance.

Accounting?

Yes. I actually spent my internship at KPMG, in their tax department.

How did that work out?

Very well. The experience guided me away from the accounting field, although the skills came in handy later.

So you didn't go into accounting after graduation.

No. My first job was with Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, as an analyst in the investment banking group. I valued deals with prospective companies, performed research, prepared marketing materials. This was all under the vice president and the associates of my group.

When did you move on to Ryan Beck?

In 1999. DKB was more focused on mergers and acquisition business, and Ryan Beck offered more client interaction. I entered as an analyst, but as the only analyst. So I had to take on a lot more functions. There was a lot of client contact.

Road shows?

Yes, I had to participate in road shows.

How did you get the introduction to Ryan Beck?

Through a friend of a friend who knew I was seeking a new opportunity. DKB was involved in international deals and I found the domestic, middle-tier market more interesting.

I've been here seven and a half years now, and in that time I've gone from analyst to associate, associate vice president, president and now director, reporting to the head of investment banking.

That's pretty fast. What's your secret?

Working really hard. There are always a lot of hours and hard work. It's not even necessarily the hours, but the mental acuity required to really keep on top of things. It's the capacity to do a lot in a short amount of time.

Multitasking?

Absolutely.

How well did your schooling prepare you for the challenge?

I was very lucky to get to Wharton. The financing and accounting courses they offered were really helpful to draw upon later in the workplace. Also, the exposure to different kinds of people and groups prepared me for relating to an assortment of colleagues on the job.

You haven't gone the popular MBA route.

I chose a less formal route. I learn a lot from attending presentations, seminars and lectures on law and accounting. I read a wide range of newspapers, magazines and journals to keep up. And, I talk to a lot of people, which is a very important source of information.

Is travel part of the job? You're on your way to the airport now...

Yes, a couple of times a month, to see existing clients or meet new clients. Often it's for raising capital or performing due diligence for transactions.

What kinds of changes have you noticed in investment banking?

When I joined, there was a heavy focus on the Internet and Internet companies. The emphasis is broader now. We're studying consumer retail, real estate, even title insurance.

What's the culture like at Ryan Beck?

Very different from DKB, which is a UK registered investment bank, owned by a German bank, which naturally tended toward the traditional. Actually, I was so busy as an analyst, I didn't have too much time to view the culture. I was pretty isolated.

By contrast, I joined my group at Ryan Beck two weeks after it was formed, so the atmosphere was more like a start-up, even though the firm dates back to 1946. We have a very collegial yet professional environment here. There's emphasis on career development and people tend to say a long time.

Any advice for others considering entering investment banking?

Make sure it's something you really want to do, because it takes real commitment to become successful at it.

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