Investment bankers should all move to Seattle

The following is the latest entry in Steven Dresner’s blog. Mr. Dresner is CEO of

In 1992 I graduated from college without a care or a clue. Following up my four-year stint at GWU, I did what many kids do – I grew my hair long and traveled the country in a Toyota Camry with two friend, a backpack and a dog named Zonker.

The three-month road trip across the U.S.A. was spectacular and really, what better way is there to spend a few months doing nothing after spending four years doing nothing in college.

Of all the places we traveled I think I liked Seattle the best. We spent a week there, camping in a public park and trying to live on our budget of $15 a day.

One of the things that struck me about Seattle were the people. In particular, all the people who told us that it rained all the time in Seattle and how Seattle was a depressing city and how Seattle was a terrible place to live and how under no circumstances should we ever, ever, consider moving to Seattle.

I remember thinking the weather was pretty good, especially for November which was considered the rainy season. In fact, it was sunny every day, and it was cool but comfortable for camping at night.

The Seattle weather sucks thing became a running joke for us and we developed this theory that the weather wasn’t really bad in Seattle at all. Instead, everyone was lying because they didn’t want New York shucks like us moving there and crowding the place. So repeating that Seattle weather sucks mantra was their strategy for keeping us away. Sort of a secret scheme being propagated by everyone in the city.

Sure this is all far-fetched and who knows, maybe the weather really does suck in Seattle. But anyway, this past week I was reminded of my time in the “rainy city” after spending two days talking to investment bankers at the Marcum MicroCap Conference in New York.

Whenever I told someone I was registering to become a securities broker and I would begin running my business under a FINRA broker-dealer, their response was pretty much along the lines of “WTF Steve! Are you out of your mind!?”

Then I explained that I felt this way was really the best way to get good economics in the business of capital markets, and that whether you’re raising capital the traditional way, i.e., doing deals at a conference like Marcum’s, or using data to prospect for investors online, that ultimately, it’s the same business – capital markets.

“Don’t become a broker-dealer Steve. It’s a major pain in the ass. FINRA is in my office all the time, the expenses are out of control, and there’s nothing but headaches.”

After two days of hearing that same chorus, I came to the conclusion that these investment bankers were basically just like the folks I met in Seattle when I was 22 – they’re afraid of crowding. (We already know there are plenty of shucks from New York in the business of banking.)

Sure, being registered has its complexities and I get all that. And of course I’m sure there’s also wisdom in what they’re telling me. But as I’ve written about extensively in this blog, after tow years of trying to navigate around registration, I’m 100 percent convinced this is the only assured path to get paid on deals that I actually want to be involved with.

It’s not complicated calculus, really. Only companies without any other option will pay a “marketing consultant” to help them raise capital.

I don’t want to be that consultant.

So in short, I’m going to be joining the crowd of investment bankers I talked with this week at the conference. Except I like to think I’ll have a very forward-leaning bent to how I’ll get things done. I suppose I’ll be a but unbanked-like in many respects.

With this in mind, bear with me over the next six weeks. This blog is bound to be a little lighter than usual while I do what any college kid would do when faced with a big test – procrastinate, then cram. For my series seven, that is.

Wish me luck.

Steven Dresner

[email protected]

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