Five Questions with Collin Roche, a GTCR managing director

  • Roche joined GTCR in 1996
  • In the mid-1990s, Roche had to explain what private equity was to execs or companies
  • The Chicago Bears beat the New England Patriots to win Superbowl XX in January 1986

Collin Roche joined the Chicago buyout shop in 1996. He heads GTCR’s financial services and technology group.

How has fintech evolved since GTCR began investing?

When GTCR first started investing — this was in the early to mid-1990s … you had a bunch of data processors providing computer outsourcing. In payments, you had credit card processing that had just electronified. What they were providing was a function, or processing of some item, maybe a payment or a check. There was very little connectivity across other business applications … no tie into other business processes. That made it something that could be outsourced, but it also meant that there was very little data integration or capture from the process. Fast forward to today [and] payment processing isn’t just a function but part of the overall business solution. You have technology that is highly integrated into their systems and, by virtue of that, you have better workflow and much better ability to leverage data. This higher level of connectivity has increased the relevance of fintech in the broader enterprise. It’s not like some discrete thing.

How has GTCR changed over the years?

I joined GTCR in 1996. The firm had a focus on leadership, on growth and a focus on transforming businesses. I found that very energizing because as a junior professional, I felt I could contribute to building something new in a given industry. … Today, we’ve stayed true to those tenets but evolved as a franchise. For instance, we have many more people, more high quality investment professionals and staff working in a team environment. This investment in our organization also means we focus on process and investment discipline, and staying true to our strategy, while also focusing on the entrepreneurism and growth orientation that makes us a good partner for management teams.

How has private equity evolved since you joined GTCR?

When I joined … private equity was still a relatively recent phenomenon. … [When] I contacted an executive or a company, I’d often have to explain what private equity is. Today, I rarely have to do that. Now, as we look across fintech, and many industries, especially technology, we see the impact of private equity in terms of owning businesses, building businesses, and selling businesses to the largest companies. GTCR is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary [and many firms are celebrating] 20, 30 or 40 years of history. [Many have] developed real capabilities and depth of skills. We’re seeing firms offering different funds, credit funds or sector funds. That’s a natural evolution of the industry. I expect that will continue.

What do you think about GP minority stake sales?

Private equity firms historically have been closely held. … There are a lot of benefits to that approach. A subset of the industry evolved to be publicly [traded; now] we’re seeing some firms selling minority stakes with plans to remain private. There are pluses and minuses to this but I expect it to continue. Private equity firms have very attractive growth, predictable fee streams, and when you sit back and look at it as an investor, it’s easy to understand why there’s a market for this that didn’t exist five to 10 years ago.

Are you excited that the Chicago Bears are finally doing well?

I didn’t see it coming. This has been a very good year so far for the Chicago Bears; 1985 was a long time ago. The city really deserves a championship.

Edited for clarity by Luisa Beltran