Raymond James14 May 2015
St. Petersburg, Florida-based Raymond James Financial Inc. (NYSE: RJF) is a highly diversified international financial services company, which provides investment banking and other services to its clients. It has acted as a financial advisor on 1,000-plus publicly announced mergers and acquisitions deals, on both the buy and sell sides. Collectively, these deals are worth billions of dollars. In 2015, “M&A Advisor” magazine named the firm’s Investment Banking practice “Investment Banking Firm of the Year.”
During various deals, the M&A team in the Raymond James Nashville office relied on cumbersome manual processes for due diligence. For instance, to handle the question and answer process, the deal team used traditional methods, conducting diligence via email and with Microsoft Excel® spreadsheets. Buyers would create individual spreadsheets with different tabs for each category of questions, and submit them to Raymond James’s deal team. The deal team members then manually tracked the status and response of each question to ensure they sent the correct answers to the right bidder.
This was time-consuming, notes Raymond James Investment Banking Associate Jason Lowry. “One deal required facilitating due diligence with seven different parties.
Imagine having seven different spreadsheets with different tabs for human resources, financials, and so on, with all kinds of different request categories. Emailing these back and forth with potential buyers and their various advisors got pretty tough to manage.”
For one transaction, Raymond James and its client decided to use an Intralinks Virtual Data Room (VDR). Intralinks offers the most widely adopted VDR in the financial industry, with sophisticated capabilities and enterprise-grade security.
Many of Raymond James’ users find that Intralinks streamlined interface is easy to adopt. It only requires inviting participants to enter the VDR. “I was won over by the ease of use — everything is very intuitive,” says Lowry.
And using an established partner such as Intralinks offers peace of mind. “Risk mitigation is always a key consideration and I feel that if I’m going with Intralinks, I’m secure,” says Lowry. “It’s a top-of-the-line VDR. Using such a prominent provider as Intralinks is great.”
During deployment, Intralinks support was highly responsive and helpful. Lowry claims: “Whenever I called customer support, I reached a representative right away. Afterwards, there would always be a follow-up email, and I would save these emails and use them for reference.”
“Intralinks enabled efficiency and performance improvement during the M&A process,” says Lowry. It was easy to set the various permissions to the VDR. “There is also a bulk upload feature that allows for rapid population of the VDR.”
And for the preparation phase, Intralinks offers a deal team exchange. “Team members can use it to establish the structure of the VDR ahead of time,” explains Lowry. “Then you call Intralinks and say it’s ready to go live. That saves a lot of time in preparation.”
Lowry’s team asked the buyers to send a list of the VDR invitees. Because Intralinks is so widely used, many of the participants were already in Intralinks’ system. The result was that Intralinks was able to auto-populate those buyers' names and organizations.
“The question and answer capabilities were especially useful,” says Lowry, who fielded almost 700 questions from buyers. He was able to see the status of every question on an Intralinks dashboard, which helped him manage the process and ensure he responded to all queries. Lowry also archived answers, further speeding up his team’s response time to frequently asked questions.
“By having the information centralized in one place, and not having to manually monitor numerous spreadsheets, Intralinks saved us at least one-to-two hours a day,” Lowry explains.
The deal team also leveraged the Intralinks dashboard to get a high-level overview of the transaction’s activities. The team shared snapshots of the diligence progress with the client. Then, when the deal closed, Lowry archived the transaction record for transparency and risk mitigation.
In his own opinion, Lowry thinks that “Overall, we saw 20 percent in time savings.” The efficiency boost and overall experience has sold Lowry on the VDR. “Through this process, I was won over by Intralinks and am currently using it again. It’s my go- to VDR provider. Intralinks makes the process easier for the buyers and sellers alike. In my eyes, it benefits both sides of the transaction.”