April 2023 | 

Even Finance Experts Benefit from New Skills

Even Finance Experts Benefit From New Skills

With a decade of experience in M&A and 27 years in the financial industry, Daniel Boutmy traveled from Uruguay to Philadelphia four times — with one trip lasting a month — to complete the Advanced Finance Program (AFP). The managing partner and head of LATAM at CDI Global says that for continued growth and success, experience is very important but not enough. “Going through a lot of tough moments is important. But there's a point when you need new skills, techniques, and specific solutions. To learn them you need someone more expert than you, who did the research and knows what has worked in the past.”

Boutmy, at 45 years old and with five children, decided to head back to the classroom and started looking into programs that would fit the bill. “It wasn’t easy to find a specific, high-quality program that focuses on M&A, but that is what Wharton offers. The discovery of Mergers and Acquisitions led me to the AFP, which allowed me to study M&A in depth, but also corporate valuation, private equity, and other relevant topics.”

“Mergers and acquisitions are a complex, tough, long-term discipline, especially in emerging markets where I work,” he continues. “You deal with buyers, sellers, complicated negotiations, valuations, privately owned family companies, country risks, and tough due diligence processes, so even with my background, I gained valuable new information. For example, we learned in depth about different leveraged buyout (LBO) models that I had not used in the past. About a month after the program ended, I had to give a very complex presentation to one of my clients. Acquiring the company required a big and complex loan within an LBO deal. But my client was a family-owned company with no background or experience in M&A, so I needed to explain what the buyer was offering to them. Using the specific model that I learned at Wharton made it much easier for me to explain the precise message the buyer was sending, which ultimately led to a successful negotiation.”

He says the Wharton finance professors who teach in the M&A program “cover the whole process, including the decisions you have to make and the skills you have to take into account. And in the classroom, we had a very senior group of peers, including the head of M&A at one of the largest private equity firms and a well-known international ‘strategic player.’ We all benefitted from each others’ experiences.”

The participants included a mix of people on both sides of M&A negotiations, which Boutmy says was incredibly valuable. “It's key to understand the other perspective. You need to know what the other side is thinking and what motivates them.” During the program, participants go through a negotiation based on a real, complex case, taking on the roles of buyer, seller, and due diligence advisor, which deepens that understanding. “The negotiation was tough, and it felt real. It might sound obvious, but if both parties stay in their position, you will never arrive at an acceptable outcome for both parts. Doing that negotiation let us apply all of the skills we were learning. It was an important part of the program.”

Beyond M&A

The other programs Boutmy attended within AFP included Corporate Valuation, Assessing Commercial Real Estate Investments and Markets, Investment Strategies and Portfolio Management, Venture Capital, and Private Equity: Investing and Creating Value. “What I found in the AFP is exactly what I needed,” he says. “For example, in Private Equity, I saw the M&A process from the buyer perspective. In Corporate Valuation, I learned the specific techniques needed for that part of an M&A deal. In other words, the AFP provides a very well-structured, integrated view of all the necessary topics in investment banking. That is the greatest strength of the program.”

But success in the program also requires a willingness to grow. “I’ve been working on M&A for more than 10 years and I can say I consider myself an expert in this discipline,” says Boutmy, “so some might ask why I am still studying it. The AFP gave me something I didn’t have. It’s not just skills and techniques, although those have already paid off for me. It's also learning from others’ experiences — people from different geographies and cultures who work in different parts of the industry. That's gold. I look forward to continuing to improve, becoming a better advisor, a better boss, a better businessman. I want to continue adding value not only to my clients, but to my people and my country.”