Take 10 with Vennette Ho

Take 10 with Vennette Ho

Vennette HoMeet Vennette Ho, a managing director in Investment Banking. Vennette recently joined Raymond James through the acquisition of Financo, a consumer-focused boutique investment bank. In this interview, Vennette tells us what excites her most about Financo and Raymond James joining forces, what she loves about working with the beauty sector, how she combats burnout, and her advice to women seeking a career in investment banking.

1. Your company, Financo, was recently acquired by Raymond James. What do you find compelling about the new acquisition?

We are all so thrilled by our new partnership with Raymond James. Financo had a great heritage in consumer and retail mergers and acquisitions (M&A); however, it was the only service we provided. In a short period of time, we have leveraged the strength of the entire Raymond James platform to dramatically expand the number of touchpoints and services we offer our clients, including equity capital markets, debt capital, financial sponsors and private wealth. The Financo and Raymond James cultures both put an emphasis on teamwork, collaboration and excellence.

2. What differentiates Financo Raymond James within the consumer and retail space?

We are well known for our deep sector expertise and quality execution. Everyone in our group is passionate about the companies we work with, and we endeavor to know our coverage industries better than anyone else. We also care deeply about the work we do and, as a result, we are relentless in our quest to maximize value for our clients.

3. Women’s Wear Daily recognized you as one of the 50 most powerful people in beauty*. How did you come to be the leader in your space?

A combination of focus and hard work! When our consumer group head, John Berg, took control of legacy Financo about eight years ago, the first thing he did was to narrow each partner’s focus to a subsector within consumer. It became apparent that he was right – being a specialist is a tremendous advantage in a highly competitive market. It allows you to build relationships with all of the players, from big to small, to see industry trends in real time, and to be proactive about identifying winning brands early. In addition, it was a lot of long hours and perseverance.

4. What are you most passionate about within your coverage space?

I truly believe beauty is the most exciting sector within consumer! First, it’s an industry that is built on innovation. Smart and passionate founders are able to bring to market new brands and products that disrupt the industry and scale very quickly. Second, it’s an incredibly positive industry that is centered on wellness, joy and self-care. Finally, M&A has been core to the beauty industry for decades. Most of the large strategies in beauty and personal care have been built up through decades of acquisitions and there’s no sign of stopping anytime soon.

5. Tell us about a couple of dynamic trends in the beauty space that have you excited.

The beauty industry is laser-focused on inclusivity, transparency and social responsibility. Brands, retailers and consumers are driving conversations and change, and this is taking many shapes and forms. For example, it can be striving for inclusivity in foundation shade ranges and ensuring that Black- and AAPI-owned brands have on-shelf representation. Equally, consumers want to know what is in their products, why ingredients work, and are driving a push toward clean and efficacious formulations. Brands are committing to recyclable packaging and sustainable ingredient sourcing. Using digital as a tool and medium, consumers today are demanding more from their brands – and the brands that are succeeding in today’s market are those that are pushing forward on these fronts.

6. What has been the most humbling moment in your career?

Oh goodness, I am seriously humbled every single day. I am grateful to work side by side with brilliant people; I’m continually learning from my clients and my co-workers. Investment banking is a team sport, and the best outcomes happen when you’re open to a number of perspectives and opinions even if they differ from your own.

7. You were previously a research analyst. What inspired you to switch to being a coverage banker?

My favorite part of being a research analyst was learning about companies and how they operated. However, I felt the pull to be part of the action from the inside – so I moved to being a coverage banker. This enabled me to directly impact the operations and strategy of our clients.

8. For women who are seeking a career in investment banking, what advice would you give them?

Speak up! It can be incredibly intimidating to be a young woman in a room full of people who don’t look like you and are much older than you. But you deserve to be in that room just as much as anyone else, and if you have a perspective then you should share it. Investment bankers are hired for their advice, strategic thinking and insights. Learning how to clearly communicate your views only comes with practice.

9. There is a lot of talk of “banker burnout.” How do you keep things together?

I think it’s really important to take time to do things that help you recharge. In my case, I really value quiet alone time. (The result of being a banker with two energetic kids at home!) So every weekend, I wake up early to walk the streets and parks of Manhattan for a couple hours. I’ve discovered some amazing secret corners within my own neighborhood and often find that I’m able to solve a lot of problems during my walks!

10. Lastly, tell us three non-career-related fun facts about yourself!
  • My husband is an actor – sometimes I run lines with him and, boy, acting is NOT easy!
  • I love cheesy musicals and romantic comedies. When I was an associate, I drafted a musical about being an investment banker. There was even a whole song based on Excel keyboard shortcuts.
  • I know the words to an incredible number of songs from the 1960s.

*This ranking is not based in any way on the individual’s abilities in regard to providing investment advice or management. This ranking is not indicative of future performance, is not an endorsement, and may not be representative of an individual client’s experience. Raymond James is not affiliated with Women’s Wear Daily.