There’s this misconception about investment bankers and dealmakers being caged monkeys sitting behind a computer, facing 5 screens and doing nothing but preparing financial models and presentations from sunrise to well past sunset. A most boring species of number-crunchers, many erroneously assume.
In fact, recently I overheard two passengers discuss the business on a Jet Airways flight to Mumbai.
One of them said to the other, “The world of finance is so bloody dull, yaar. A big day for an investment banker is reading The Financial Times in bed.” They both laughed.
I found it amusing.
Later, that same guy pointed out a picture of Brad Pitt and George Clooney together in some magazine to the other passenger. “These two guys are so cool. You know, I wonder if Brad really looks like this in real life.”
I smiled to myself.
A memorable encounter
What many people fail to realise is that films, though they aim to put magic on a screen, are very often motivated by commercial aims. Filmmaking is a business. Sure, the backers want to entertain audiences but the chief objective is to ensure a return on investment. Not sexy but true.
As film budgets continue to rise, more and more capital is needed to realise the motion picture and fulfil the cinematic experience. And when you need lots of money, you need investors. And dealmakers like myself are sometimes the ones who bring investors to the table.
The aforementioned passenger reminded me of an encounter I had some years ago.
Back in 2011, a European film fund approached me to help them raise money. They knew I was close to several Family Offices (organisations that manage the wealth of very large families) and invited me to learn more about their business.
“Sure,” I said, being a big fan of film.
“Why don’t you come on the set of a film we’ve worked on,” said a senior executive from the fund. “You can meet some of the crew.”
“I’d be delighted to,” I said.
The following week I found myself on the set of World War Z, which was partly shot in London. I arrived to the studios very early in the morning where I was met by a young female assistant.
“Please follow me,” she said, leading me through a maze of rooms full of crew working away on set design, and past a very large space packed with extras being prepped for a shoot by one of the assistant directors.
The assistant dropped me off next to Marc Forster, the director, who invited me to sit at a table with him and very kindly gave me a brief overview of the scene they were preparing to shoot. To hear it from the director’s mouth was quite the experience.
So we were both seated and I was listening to him when, all of a sudden, Marc looked over my right shoulder and said, “Oh, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.”
I turned around to find the man himself, Brad Pitt.
Marc introduced us and then Brad and I had a short yet very pleasant exchange. It’s always difficult to judge a person based on limited interaction but I would say that the A-list actor was very cool and down-to-earth for someone of his stature.
Arrival into India
Back to the plane ride to India…
When the aircraft landed and everyone stepped out, I stopped that same passenger.
“He does,” I said to the man.
He appeared confused. “I’m sorry. I don’t understand,” he said to me.
“Brad Pitt does look like that in real life,” I said, and stepped away with a smile.
Finance doesn’t have to be boring. By being curious, entrepreneurial and sometimes a little cheeky, you never know where it might take you. Oh and that holds true of whatever business you’re in. YOU are the one who dictates your journey.