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I was en route to MD, but I left banking to join EY. This is why

By 2015 Nick Parkhouse had been working in banking for 17 years and had plenty to show for it. He’d made senior director at a major UK bank and he’d developed the firm’s specialty finance structured finance unit.

But Parkhouse was keen to experience the banking sector from a different perspective and to broaden his own career path. “While I thoroughly enjoyed banking, the market was changing and I recognised there was a growing demand for good quality independent advice around structured transactions,” he explains.

Parkhouse says he saw a “gap in the market” for this kind of service. Soon after he heard about a role building a new financial services debt advisory team at EY in Canary Wharf, which is part of a combined financial services Corporate Finance practice that also provides M&A advice.

“It was fortuitous timing. I found out about a role at one of the world’s top professional services firms that completely aligned with my emerging views on the importance of independent advice, and allowed me to hire the right people to achieve my goals,” he says.

After an interview process which included “a positive discussion on how to build the business”, Parkhouse joined EY in October 2015. “I was on the road to becoming an MD in banking, but I couldn’t turn down the opportunity at EY. One of the attractions of the role is that our Financial Services Corporate Finance team brings M&A and debt together within one team,” he says. “We don’t see many others doing this in the FS mid-market and in my view this combined approach is best for our clients and for developing our team into high performing professionals.”

Parkhouse’s team advises UK financial institutions – including non-bank lenders, insurers, fintech firms, asset servicers and wealth and asset managers – about raising capital to grow their operations. ”In just over 18 months we have advised on 11 transactions and we have another 11 that we’re currently advising on. We believe this already makes us one of the most active mid-market financial services debt advisory teams,” he says.

“I really enjoy working here – we have a great team, we’re winning deals and executing them well,” says Parkhouse. “The choice of financing is increasing, so finding the right advisory partner is important. We’re able to help our clients explore a really broad range of options so that they can go to market in an efficient way. We’re also a team of structurers and so are able, where needed, to build quite bespoke structures to suit.”

As the business expands, Parkhouse is taking on more people. In recent months he has added a senior executive to his debt team, has hired a director to lead the team’s launch into insurance debt advisory, and is currently recruiting a director to further build out the specialty finance offering. By September the team will be up to eight people in the space of just two years, with further growth planned.

“We’re always looking for strong talent, including people from banks, to join our Corporate Finance practice across both the debt and M&A disciplines. We expect to continue hiring as the Corporate Finance team grows.”

The Financial Services Corporate Finance team currently employs 20 people in London, six of whom – including Parkhouse – are exclusively focused on debt. “We’ve hired some really great people with strong structuring and client-relationship skills and solid experience in banking,” says Parkhouse.

“The response from the market has also been really positive and the strength of the team is undoubtedly helping us to win work in competitive pitches. Joining EY has given our new colleagues a great opportunity to be part of a growing business and grow their own careers as we expand,” he adds.

Some people in the sector still aren’t aware of the range of challenging and dynamic jobs that EY is able to offer within financial services corporate finance advisory, says Parkhouse. “But this is now changing. EY offers a unique opportunity because we sit between a boutique and an investment bank. To our clients we offer corporate finance advice that’s truly independent and to our people enviable career development opportunities that come from being part of a global firm with over 230,000 employees worldwide.”

Parkhouse says jobs in his team also offer a “high level of client interaction” throughout each deal. “You are highly involved in the transaction and see the outcome of advice given which helps with personal development.”

Junior team members also work across all financial services asset classes and across M&A and debt. “This helps them develop wider and deeper skills than perhaps they’d get at other institutions. Then over time we expect they will become more specialist.”

“At a junior level we’re looking for all-round enthusiasm and ability in candidates,” adds Parkhouse. “You don’t need 100% of the technical or modelling skills we use – these can be taught. It’s having the right attitude and desire to succeed that is far more important.”

He says new recruits from banks will need to “get used to not having a balance sheet behind them” when they initially move to a pure advisory role. “But to operate independently and enjoy the freedom this entails, not having a balance sheet actually helps.”

Parkhouse also enjoys being part of a global Financial Services Transactions Advisory practice at EY, which employs more than 700 people and incorporates other specialisms such as transaction diligence, modelling and valuations. “We’re one of the largest financial services-focused teams in the market and it’s good to be able to tap the wider knowledge of this network when you’re working on a deal,” he says.

“If you’re in my team in London, you can just walk three rows of desks in one direction and chat to a financial services valuations expert or three rows in the other and speak to a financial services diligence expert,” adds Parkhouse. “Plus you can pick up the phone or web chat to colleagues in EY offices across the globe, both within the sector and in other areas of specialism. EY is a great place to join if you want to work somewhere that offers a broader, independent perspective on the financial sector.”

So what should someone do if they are interested in making the move to EY? “Just get in touch,” says Parkhouse. “Feel free to drop me a note via Linkedin – we’re always interested in hearing from talented individuals.  We may not have a role at the time, but we’re keen to have a strong pipeline of diverse talent to call upon as we continue to grow.”

To find about more about EY and careers available, visit:

  • Ba
    27 July 2017

    Beancounter - with respect, you've missed the point completely. The absence of balance sheet is precisely why teams such as Nick's have a place in the market (and why their services are increasingly demanded by CFO's and company boards) - no balance sheet means pure independence; the advice is not tainted by vested interests or polarised views on financing options based on that institutions own product suite. To say they do their job with one arm tied behind their back is wholly inaccurate. About the best example to illustrate this would be hedging advisory, where iBanks are no longer permitted (by regulation) to advise companies on which hedging products to take. Debt advisory teams, however, can do exactly that!

  • Be
    26 July 2017

    An interesting article. I worked in the big 4 alongside debt advisory teams and I always thought that they were great teams but were crucially trying to do a job with one arm tied behind their back; they have no balance sheet to lend. So as any semi literate CFO can do, they provide an independent view, when the CFO is too busy / too proud / too bored to do his/her own analysis. And they bring ideas/ a different view. Crucially though, because the big 4 partners don't have a balance sheet to lend, the debt advisory guys are always at a disadvantage to the banks and boutiques and PE firms who do...

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