- Leads PE and VC practice at accounting/tax/advisory firm
- Tech consulting to enhance access to portfolio company data
- 10 years in investment banking, left Bear Stearns in 2007
Before becoming a consultant, Jeremy Swan spent 10 years in investment banking, first with Bear Stearns and then with two small boutiques — none of which is still in existence. Swan left banking in spring 2007: “I started to see the writing on the wall, in terms of where the market was going.”
Now Swan leads the private equity and venture capital practice at professional services firm CohnReznick. “Any work that we’re doing across accounting-tax-advisory at the fund level, or through our relations with the fund at the portfolio-company level, flows through my practice,” Swan said. That includes tax and audit work for funds, tax structuring on fund formation, audit and tax compliance for portfolio companies, and transaction diligence on new platform or add-on acquisitions.
“What differentiates us, even though we work with some large private equity funds and large corporates, our sweet spot is really in the middle market,” Swan said. “We have embraced a number of technologies, either built in-house or licensed from other providers, that allow us to provide the types of solutions and services that you’d expect from a Bain, McKinsey, Accenture,” in a shorter time frame at lower cost.
Swan said the firm is working with a couple of clients that need a better way to gather and access financial data from their many portfolio companies: “Their current process is, one of them is using a technology called iLevel; another is using Excel spreadsheets.” Without making people completely change their ways, the goal is to give them more functionality and flexibility — and to avoid two or three members of the PE team having to chase down portfolio-company CFOs to fill out templates every month or quarter.
Toward those ends, CohnReznick is setting up an analytical reporting dashboard, “able to link directly to the general ledger and subledger within” the enterprise resource planning system. Through this dashboard, CEOs can pull up all the information they need “to really understand what’s going on with the business.” As it stands, managers are just seeing top-line financial data; the new toolkit can show profitability by customer, for instance, or by stock-keeping unit (SKU).
“When I look at the work I’m doing today,” Swan said, comparing consulting work with his previous life as a banker, “it’s much more relationship-driven. Some of the private equity firms I’ve been working with for 20 years. They view us as a trusted business adviser and partner, versus viewing us from a transaction perspective.”
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