Investment bankers use presentations that are documents for reading, they are even denser than the slides a management consultant typically produces. And whereas a management consultant usually can be convinced easily to change a presentation approach, investment bankers stick to their traditional approach. I have been thinking why this is the case, because I believe that a more visual presentation approach also works in the world of finance. Possible reasons:
  • Finance is a conservative industry, and a different looking presentation might give the impression that you are not serious.
  • Bankers are actually good sales people and do most of their sales pitches verbally, they put up the confusing and dense slide with all the facts, but when you listen to the audio track, the story is quite clear. The slides are for reading after the meeting, the presentation is for listening only
  • Bankers work under very strict time pressure, so there is simply no other practical way than to produce a deck by writing bullet after bullet.
  • Bankers usually do not get very deep in to the strategy of a company (like a management consultant does), a company is a company with sales, growth, margins, PE multiples, and leverage. As a result, the presentation will look more generic.
  • Bankers are used to reading/interpreting financial ratios: a EV/adjusted EBITDA ratio of 6.8 instantly rings a bell. A less financially savvy audience might need more than a bullet point to be impressed by this.
In most of my projects with a conservative investment banker, I try to negotiate a highly visual summary deck that goes in front of the dense appendix. Over time, we iterate the summary deck more and more, and the appendix gets used less.

For very high profile events (i.e., big IPOs) I see that bankers start to invest in visual presentations, things are also starting to change in the world of finance.

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