Brad McGowan is Director and Head of PE Coverage at SolomonEdwards and Managing Director at Pickwick Capital Partners. His focus is on investment banking, venture capital and PE. Brad has been a member of ACG for over 10 years and serves on the Board of Directors. Previously, Brad served on the Planning Committee and is currently the Chair of the Membership Committee. Every month, an active member of the ACG New York community is featured in a brief interview. Reflecting industry insight and personal perspective, this feature will introduce industry leaders and offer advice on the tools you need to succeed in the ever-changing middle market.
1. Quick basics first, what is your role, firm and focus?
I am a people person and as a result, remain very active and passionate about what I do. My focus is, and has always been,
on building solid relationships with leading PE firms across the country. I currently have two distinct opportunities: I serve
as the Director and Head of Private Equity Coverage at SolomonEdwards, a professional consulting firm. I also serve as
a Managing Director and lead the Financial Sponsors Coverage of PE firms at Pickwick Capital, a boutique investment
banking firm and fully-licensed broker-dealer. Both roles go “hand in hand” with one another, if you think about it. I sell
CFO and M&A services while representing SolomonEdwards in the marketplace, and I also am able to introduce actual
investment banking deal flow through Pickwick Capital into various PE firms, too. Security technologies/HLS/defense,
industrial/manufacturing, healthcare/life sciences, business services and even cannabis are key areas of focus for me.
2. What do you think are the biggest obstacles in the middle market today?
There are many obstacles in the middle market today. For example: the new president and his agenda; the overall economy
(will it continue to grow or will it slow its pace of growth?); the new and changing regulatory environment; cybersecurity
and cyberattacks on our networks; geopolitical risks around the world; having lots of dry powder and how to properly
deploy the cash at fair valuations in order to achieve profitable high returns; and a rising interest rate environment after
many years of historically low rates. I also see more and more intense due diligence conducted on new funds by investors,
3. How has ACG helped you in your career?
ACG has been invaluable to me throughout my career. I have not only built up my professional network, but I have also
made many personal friends along the way! ACG is a great association. I have enjoyed meeting many in the middle market
dealmaking community as a result of being a member of ACG. ACG has also kept me current on certain sectors and issues
that may affect PE firms. I have also attended hundreds of targeted industry events. For all these reasons, I believe you can
benefit greatly from getting involved with ACG.
4. Can you tell us about your greatest success story/ proudest achievement?
One great example of business success that comes to my mind within ACG stands out very clearly. I had attended the ACG
event “Deal Making on the Beach” held at the Jersey Shore, which involved all three local chapters of ACG New York, NJ,
and Philadelphia. It was a great networking event and a lot of fun for all in attendance. At this event I was fortunate to meet
up with Bob Fitzsimmons, who heads up High Road Capital, and we struck up a quick conversation. Weeks later, I followed
up with Bob and discussed more about what our firm does. Then SolomonEdwards hosted their own CFO/PE event at the
Union League Club in NYC, which Bob attended and listened to some of the examples of what our firm had participated in
from the some of the PE panelists. Bob later called me and I got my team involved and we listened to his exact needs and
what he was looking for. SolomonEdwards delivered and executed: We were able to find Bob the correct CFO candidate,
who he eventually hired. As an extension of that key hire, High Road Capital has since become a working client of the
firm and we have been hired to do work on two of their portfolio companies as a result. This is a true example of an ACG
success story, why it is important to participate, and how ACG is an efficient networking platform. This is a prime example
of how you can build upon relationships from ACG.
5. What changes do you foresee happening in the middle market in the next three to five years?
I see many PE firms and brokerage firms making changes and constantly adapting to change. Personally, I do see
the middle market implementing more cybersecurity and IT security services going forward as attacks increase, and
proprietary information is more and more at risk. I see more emphasis on sector/industry specialization, too. How does one
differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack? Specialization! Focus and expertise in the field, with more and more
emphasis falling on brokerage firms or middle-market PE firms to specialize in certain sectors.
Deep expertise is key to beating the competition. There is no more being “all things to everyone.” My own firms preach this
same specialization strategy. SolomonEdwards does not try to be all things to all customers. SEG has focused their services
and efforts to align our talent in order to specialize in certain key sectors such as healthcare, banking/financial, technology,
manufacturing, and energy. Pickwick Capital has developed key practice sector teams internally, too: security/defense,
infrastructure—project finance, healthcare/life sciences, media, cannabis, financial, real estate and energy. You can NOT be
ALL things to everyone anymore.
I see more pressure on the fees charged by funds themselves. I see more and more due diligence being conducted by
possible investors into PE funds. I see more transparency going forward. I also see more and more business development
positions developed at funds, as competition for deal flow remains in high demand, with more focus on lead generation
and building future pipeline.