Arbor Advisors Reviews | Glassdoor

Arbor Advisors Reviews

Updated July 24, 2017
14 reviews

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5.0
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Arbor Advisors Managing Director Stan Christensen
Stan Christensen
11 Ratings

14 Employee Reviews

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  1. "Great work-life balance in banking"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Associate
    Former Employee - Associate

    I worked at Arbor Advisors full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Great experience for younger associates in investment banking. Much more business development and client facing work than other firms while still maintaining a solid balance of execution work. Small office with a ton of autonomy. Great work-life balance for banking.

    Cons

    Subjective decision making. One owner can make it difficult to get things across the finish line.

    Culture has greatly improved though can continue to get better.


  2. "A Unique and Rewarding IB Experience"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Arbor Advisors full-time

    Pros

    • Exposure: Even as an Analyst, I was amazed by the proximity I had to the entire deal lifecycle and the degree to which was involved in important aspects of the M&A process.
    • Learning Environment: Day-to-day activities can be varied and dynamic, which I enjoyed because it meant I got to learn a lot about M&A, finance, and technology – and I did not feel trapped in routine.
    • Development: The role encompasses quantitative financial analysis and business development. This gives junior guys the chance to learn important skills and grow quickly.
    • Culture: The junior team is collegial and the senior guys make an active effort to help you develop. It was more team-oriented than I expected and less of a dog-eat-dog one.

    Cons

    • There’s an emphasis on being able to connect with entrepreneurs and source deals. The sales process can be unpredictable. To succeed, it’s important to embrace the process and commit to bringing in deals. The financial compensation for doing so outweighs any challenges.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to delegate advanced work to junior guys. It had a considerable effect on my positive experience at the firm.

  3. "Great experience"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Arbor Advisors as an intern

    Pros

    I worked at Arbor for as a co-op intern. All things considered, it was an outstanding experience. Coming into the job, my goal was to have an intense learning experience, be exposed to the full M&A deal process, and gain exposure to the technology environment of SV. The job largely fulfilled my expectations, although one learns as much as the effort one puts in.

    In deal execution, we were constantly challenged to work hard and be active contributors. During a 6-month period, we had the chance to create marketing materials and valuation models for many active clients. We intervened in every stage of the process - from pitch to MP. The amount of responsability and the variety of tasks was great to have, and our work was improved by a supportive team. As far as future career opportunities go, this was extremely valuable. I can't think of many places where one gets a chance to work on so many deals and learn so quicky. The companies we pitched to and served were building extremely interesting technologies, from predictive analytics to virtual reality. All the guys who've worked at Arbor have had rich experience and have gone on to do very well later on.

    The sourcing function was also a great learning experience. Had the chance to dive into an wide variety industries and geographical regions. One of the team members, who had constantly provided mentorship and support, encouraged me to source and talk to entrepreneurs in new areas, such as Southern Europe. Another regularly took time off his schedule to talk to us about his theses on different verticals (infrastructure software, healthcare IT) and his experience in the buy side.

    As junior guys in the company, we had space to decide how we wanted to work together and come up with new ideas. The guys were willing to help wherever necessary and make sure our time there was well spent, both on the personal and professional level. We had several workshops, review sessions and private conversations to help us get better at the job. Their true willingness to help entrepreneurs permeated to us and pushed us to do better work.

    The atmosphere in the office was good. We went hiking as a team and regularly had dinner together. It was interesting to hear Stan Christensen's stories on negotiation and conflict resolution in different parts of the world. I keep good memories of the group.

    Cons

    Interns get lunch - lot of time spent finding options that will please the whole team

    Advice to Management

    The coop program is excellent for both the interns and the company. Keep giving the junior guys room to develop and improve their skills.


  4. "Investment Banking Analyst Co-op Experience"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Investment Banking Analyst Co-op in San Mateo, CA
    Former Employee - Investment Banking Analyst Co-op in San Mateo, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Arbor Advisors (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Arbor Advisors was a great experience overall. It is a co-op (6 month internship) where you get what you put in. I was one of 3 co-ops during my tenure and we worked together on almost every project as a team.

    Co-ops were treated as members of the team and we got a great amount of responsibility from business development to deal execution. During the first day of work, we were already staffed on a Private Placement deal. As we proved ourselves, we got more responsibility and exciting work. We got to work 50% in business development assignments and another 50% in deal execution. Responsibilities included creating financial models, developing marketing materials, sourcing new prospects, performing research on companies/industries, compiling pitchbook materials and finding strategic buyers or financial sponsors for clients. My favorite project was a research assignment in which we dug into the financials and economics of each of our opportunities and updated the information into Salesforce - This assignment gave us insight into different business models and growth strategies.

    We got to work on fast growing technology companies from all verticals including EdTech, FinTech, AR/VR, IoT, Healthcare IT and HCM. We each found certain industries fascinating and thus during our free time we dug deeper into these industries via a side project.

    In regards to future next opportunities/career, I believe Arbor Advisors prepares you for whatever you are looking to do next. The work ethic you develop here will make you a great candidate for your next endeavor. The Wall Street Prep materials were also helpful, but I felt the greatest talking points and learning experience was from the deals that we got to work on early on as well as the business development skills we developed from the job.

    Overall, it was a good 6 month experience and I honestly don't think I would have learned this much any where else.

    The team is a solid group of guys. We ate dinner together Monday to Thursday and had great team building events - Hiking and Movember.

    Cons

    Hours can be long and deadlines can be tight. However, the long hours and tight deadlines is how the IBD industry is. I believe because of the long hours, we got to learn so much as co-ops. Furthermore, it felt really good to know that we worked hard day in and day out for 6 months.

    There is also a steep learning curve and it can be really fast paced, but by the end of the co-op you realize how much you learned and how much more efficient you became. You really do learn by doing!

    Advice to Management

    The co-op program is a win/win. Continue developing it and making it a great experience.


  5. Helpful (2)

    "Technology Investment Banking and Business Development"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Vice President in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Vice President in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Arbor Advisors (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Having worked here for more than 5 years, I've experienced all levels of the organization first hand. With a little bit of work, you can probably figure out who I am - feel free to contact me directly.

    • If you perform, it's obvious, and you'll be promoted and rewarded - that's why I've stayed.
    • Arbor is unique: You'll be expected to do a fair amount of business development along with the traditional "execution or modeling work" that's required at other banks. I'll touch on both of these aspects below.
    • Execution Work: You'll be staffed on existing clients with lots of guidance on how to build a financial model, structure marketing materials, and write persuasively. You'll see first hand how your work products translate into structured acquisition/investment offers, and turn into closed deals. The longer you are here, the more responsibility you will be given with increased expectations. You are given the opportunity to take on as much as you can handle.
    • Business Development: Since my first week at the firm, I have been speaking with entrepreneurs. We have long sales cycles and I lost A LOT of opportunities along the way, but ultimately I learned how to persuasively pitch investment banking services and have spoken with thousands of entrepreneurs about their businesses in the process. You will learn a ton about both successful and not so successful business models.
    • Training: We didn't always have a lot of this. Now we do. We have monthly training on things you'd find at traditional banks and things you might not. For example: financial modeling, liquidation and other quantitative analysis is similar to other banks. We recently completed a session on "How to choose an M&A lawyer", which is something you probably wouldn't learn at other banks.
    • Negotiation: This is unique to Arbor. We regularly do negotiation training to learn best practices we can apply to real life banking situations, and they're usually pretty fun.
    • Travel: I've been lucky enough to travel to every major tech hub in North America to meet entrepreneurs, pitch for new business, and go to conferences.
    • Money: If you bring in deals, and those deals close, you'll get paid better than you would at most other banks. If you don't, you'll get paid a salary comparable to the industry average (we check).
    • Team: We have a small team and we operate in a big market, so we have to collaborate, which I enjoy.

    Cons

    • This is a relationship business. Entrepreneurs tend not to make decisions about their investment bank over night, and as a result our sales cycle can sometimes feel like a grind. If you struggle with autonomy & self motivation, you'll have a tough time succeeding in this role.
    • If you're looking for a traditional "2-and-out" investment banking role, where you spend 95% of your time doing deal execution work, this job isn't for you.
    • Location: Arbor is located in San Mateo, so if you live in SF that's a 20-30 minute commute.
    • Turnover: Historically we've had high turnover (hence the reviews). We're listening to our employees' feedback (both present and previous). We've increased analyst training and tried to give the job more structure, and as a result turnover has reduced.

    Advice to Management

    Hire more non-traditional candidates. They tend to produce at higher rates and be happier in the job.


  6. "Unique Investment Bank - Great Experience to Build on Valuable Skillsets"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Associate in San Mateo, CA
    Former Employee - Associate in San Mateo, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Arbor Advisors (More than a year)

    Pros

    Analysts and Associates core focus at Arbor is BD. This is a rare opportunity that 99% of other IB's do not offer at this stage in your career. You will learn how to develop and maintain both personal and professional relationships with Founders and C-level employees of middle market technology companies. Often the companies that you speak to view their relationship not with Arbor, but rather with you the Analyst or Associate. Another pro is that if you show results in sourcing solid companies, you will gain tons of autonomy and responsibility. I excelled in the BD aspect of the job, and was allowed to travel to pitches, conferences, and meetings at my leisure.

    Work / life balance is great compared to most other boutique banks. You will rarely be stuck in the office for a 100 hour work week. In the two plus years I worked at Arbor I maybe had to work 3 weekends. A lot of this balance depends on your performance. Arbor has a "get it done" mentality. If you're bringing in business and keeping up with your execution work, management doesn't mind leaving a few hours early or coming in a bit late in the mornings. If you eat what you kill, you'll sit at the head of the table...

    The biggest pro about being an Analyst or Associate at Arbor is that it really differentiates you from the rest of your Analyst or Associate class at other IB's when looking for your next job. Every other analyst/associate that you will be competing against has the same exact story. "I sat in excel for 18 hours a day building pitchbooks and every financial model out there. I also know x industry really well." At Arbor you really get to understand the client sourcing process, play a large role in seller / buyer communication while also managing typical analyst execution responsibilities like your competition. You also become trained in a proven negotiation framework that is actually effective when put into practice. Stan, the MD of the firm, was a former full-time professional negotiator. He now teaches negotiation at Stanford. Once a week, he sits the entire firm down in the conference room and teaches the negotiation class to the firm that he teaches to Stanford students later that night. The negotiation tactics you will learn here are invaluable. It's a much more attractive story for your next job. If you do well, you will be included in trips and meetings with Stan, often just the two of you. It is truly impressive to see him in sales mode (whether he is pitching the firms services to a potential client or negotiating with a buyer on behalf of a current client).

    The work environment is great. It's 10-15 people at any given time, so you really have the ability to assert yourself in the hierarchy. Everyone gets a long and you can feel a friendly competition on the floor that drives you to keep sourcing solid companies.

    Compensation is slightly below market, which is expected in this type of role. If you source clients, you get a piece of the firms fee as a bonus on top of a discretionary year end bonus as is standard. You have the capability to earn well above market if you do well, however, most times closing a deal is completely out of your control and you will not be monetarily rewarded even though you did a killer job.

    Cons

    If you are looking for traditional IB Analyst work, this role is not for you. If you are passive, and do not have an alpha personality, this role is likely not for you. You will excel if you are smart and have the technical skills to get through execution work, but just as crucial is having the social and people skills to win over business.

    The firm rarely socializes outside of work with each other. There is never much of a celebration or reward when they win a client or close a deal. Not a deal-breaker...but would be satisfying to see them reward your wins when they come up.

    Advice to Management

    Don't stray from the recent pivot to the "get it done" mindset. If an employee if performing well, let them do what they want. It will set an example for employees that aren't performing at the level they should be. Go out of your way to reward employees when they do well. There needs to be more of an understanding among the junior to mid level guys that their work is actually valued.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "Great Opportunity - Solid Mix of Banking, Sales and Technology"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Associate in Palo Alto, CA
    Current Employee - Associate in Palo Alto, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Arbor Advisors full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - unique model where you learn banking skill set and get to be client facing very quickly
    - very interesting role as you get to speak to entrepreneurs and learn about their technology businesses
    - promoted on merit - analysts and associates can take on as much as they can handle
    - great deal flow
    - strong training environment: starts from the top down and includes modeling / quant, execution, negotiation and sales

    Cons

    - some people don't like as much autonomy, especially in junior roles; resources are there but you have to be proactive

    Advice to Management

    - continue to invest in training: employees are hungry to learn

  8. Helpful (2)

    "Technology-Focused Middle-Market Investment Banking"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Palo Alto, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Palo Alto, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Arbor Advisors full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Arbor Advisors is an exceptional place to get exposure to technology investment banking. Specifically it offers:
    * Opportunity to participate in the full lifecycle of an M&A or capital raise transaction, from sourcing and engaging, to execution and closing.
    * Ability to spent half of your time on business development, developing relationships with entrepreneurs and CEOs
    * Exposure to a proven negotiation framework that consistently delivers out of market outcomes for clients
    * Performance-based compensation structure with significant upside for identifying and sourcing clients
    * Close-knit, small office culture with a great group of dynamic and motivated individuals
    * Formal and informal training program to develop both execution and business development skills
    * Better work-life balance than other investment banking positions

    Cons

    * Long transaction timelines require persistence, patience and a long-term approach
    * The flip side of being performance-based is that if you don't perform, you will get paid less than your peers who do
    * Challenge to find the right balance between execution(important and urgent) and business development (even more important but not as urgent)

    Advice to Management

    * Take time to celebrate successes more often
    * Consistently recognize the contributions that all members of the team make to a successful outcome


  9. Helpful (3)

    "Great place for hungry, entrepreneurial finance person interested in internet/software sector"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Analyst/Associate in Palo Alto, CA
    Former Employee - Analyst/Associate in Palo Alto, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Arbor Advisors full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    -Great mix of traditional IB Analyst/Associate work (modeling, valuation, market mapping) and higher level responsibilities (relationship building with C-suite, conferences, pitches)
    -There is no cap on your earning potential - if you're smart, strategic, and willing to work hard you have the potential to make more money than you ever could in a traditional IB Analyst/Associate role
    -You write your own destiny - you're given the freedom to go after verticals that interest you; your earning potential isn't 100% dependent on how your team/group does, but rather how well you perform
    -Stan is a great teacher and encourages all of his employees to 'think like owners' - he is very open to new ideas provided you come to him with a fully-baked plan and ways to measure results
    -Good comradery among Analyst/Associates - at the end of the day everybody wants to see you do well since incentives are aligned (i.e. the more deals the bank does, the bigger the bonus pool at the end of the year)

    Cons

    -No formal training or on-boarding, which is fine if you're hungry, entrepreneurial, and don't feel the need to be babysat
    -Strict rules around setting up meetings without Stan present

    Advice to Management

    -Hire slower, fire faster


  10. Helpful (4)

    "Former Associate"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Associate in Palo Alto, CA
    Former Employee - Associate in Palo Alto, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Arbor Advisors full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    * Most of the negative reviews on here were written by former Associates who currently work for a competitor

    Arbor’s deal pipeline is strong. After a dozen years of solid outcomes for clients, the firm has a great reputation in the valley. I worked on several deals while I was at the firm and got to work daily with the firm’s Managing Directors. Arbor gave me great training on everything from pitchbooks to marketing materials to negotiation skills.

    Arbor employees become very close friends – there is great camaraderie. Employees are all very smart, talented, and helpful – the recruiting process has become very competitive over the past couple of years. Arbor’s Analysts and Associates are also very passionate about technology.

    Cons

    Analysts and Associates are given a lot of responsibility – not everyone has what it takes to be successful here and they wind up leaving after a year.


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