Career Profile: Bobby Lau

Your background is in lending. How does that help in your day-to-day interactions with potential clients?

Initially, the lending relationships I had across the country were a real benefit in building our client base across many markets. Heller Financial and CIT were big players in the middle market finance world, and I had former team members and relationships spread across multiple institutions. A good portion of our referrals come from lenders, and I believe that my background in leveraged lending gives me a good understanding of the issues that concern them. On the flip side, I am able to talk to borrowers about their approach to their lenders.

Aside from cyclical ups and downs, how have the advisory and investment banking businesses at CMA changed since you started?

Our restructuring business has evolved in the last 15 years to include more lender advisory engagements. Over that period of time, the nature of bankruptcy has changed, and there are very few instances of companies languishing in extended Chapter 11 reorganizations. This has been driven primarily by stakeholders’ desire to minimize advisor and legal fees through more streamlined pre-packaged or pre-arranged filings. Add to this the complex nature of many capital structures, and the demand for lender advisors has accelerated. Today, our practice is split approximately 50/50 between debtor and creditor representations.

The Investment Banking portion of the group has evolved and grown on two fronts. The “healthy company” M&A and capital raise business has continued to benefit from its family business orientation, but has accelerated as the group has added a couple of strategic sourcing relationships. On the Restructuring front, IB has grown its presence as a financial advisor to stakeholders in balance sheet restructurings as well as a transactional solution where appropriate.

In your opinion, where do you see CMA fitting into the advisory/IB ecosystem? What unique solutions does CMA provide for clients?

On the restructuring front, CMA’s value add is in the seamless integration of operational and transactional expertise and our ability to deploy both skill sets when needed. While known primarily as an operationally focused turnaround shop 15 years ago (and we still maintain that expertise), we have also organically grown an investment banking effort within the restructuring framework. While both operational and transactional teams are often engaged on a stand-alone basis, we have found that meshing these disciplines together into one efficient solution has been well received by the market.

As mentioned above, our M&A practice is well versed in the unique process of selling family businesses. Senior level attention on every transaction eases the concerns of owners and guarantees efficient execution.

How have you approached the challenges of business development under the pandemic these past 18 months?

After utilizing a national face-to-face business development effort for over 10 years, we quickly transitioned to a virtual model. To everyone’s surprise, I feel that the overall transition to the Work from Home model was smoother than initially anticipated, and that our referral base was largely unchanged. In addition, our marketing group was able to quickly employ some very creative virtual events to keep us engaged with our clients.

Please explain why January 10, 2022 is a national holiday in your household?

Dawgs Win! The Georgia Bulldogs finally got the monkey off their backs and beat Alabama for the National Championship. We have three UGA graduates in our family, so it was a big day.