Joseph M. Manko Jr. is the latest Managing Director to join Mufson Howe Hunter & Co., the Center City investment boutique (recent fundraising clients: drug-test materials maker Bioreclamation of New York; Maryland software maker Learn It Systems LLC).
Manko's namesake dad is a lawyer who switched from securities to environmental law because he found investment boring; he also ran the Lower Merion Commissioners. Manko's own resume is classic High Finance: Harriton-Penn-Penn Law, then a stint at Skadden Arps's corporate-finance law division, then 17 years with Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong, Deutsche Bank in London, and BZ Fund Management, one of the the last of the big, private Swiss investment houses.
What brought him home to Philly, and mid-market deals? "My parents and my wife's are here. We grew up here. They are getting older. And our kids were coming to a critical age in their schooling. Neither my wife nor I speak German."
Plus the work: "I was looking for something more entrepeneurial. Mufson is one of the few firms I've found where it's an ownership culture. I want to do transactions. I want to work with good people. I want to invest in companies. And this firm gets a lot of repeat business, which tells me the clients are fairly happy."
That's not always the goal for investment bnaks? "At the big banks you think abou tdoing the next deal and making the revenue. Here, you focus on profitability, and whether it's a good deal. You turn the lights off when you leave. It's your money that you're investing." At Mufson, he says, those little Lucite deal markers are mile-markers, not "tombstones."
How's business this year? "Banks are not lending to smaller companies. Venture capital firms have had trouble with their protfolios" and have trouble raising new money. "Private equity firms have stringent criteria. So a lot of companies aren't getting the capital they need. That creates opportunities for us. In Philadelphia there's a lot of private money to invest, from people who are sick and tired of dealing with the bigger banks, who haven't really performed. They don't want to give money blindly to the larger funds." But rather with local shops, he says, and hopes, "on a deal-by-deal basis."