‘We’re not a corporate firm, we’re an investors’ firm.’ That simple statement by one partner stood out more than any other during a recent meeting with Ropes & Gray. The point being made was that the firm – and its rapid progress in the City – had not been built on the back of large corporate or investment banking clients – it was focused on a range of sponsors and funds, in particular in private equity and leveraged finance. The same partner stressed the cultural impact on Ropes of being bred in Boston, a major hub for investors and funds, not banks.
As we note in our analysis, ‘The third wave’ as part of our annual Global London report, this approach is driving a new breed of US firms in the City who have proved able to move at unprecedented speed. The second wave of US expansion in London in the late 1990s and early 2000s focused on generalism and targeting corporate and mainstream banking work… and largely ran into a brick wall as such clients remained wedded to their established local advisers.