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In an age where clean energy and ESG guidelines dominate industry conversations, Bentsen Falb is proud to be at the head of the renewable energy movement at Raymond James & Associates. As a lover of the outdoors, he believes the only way to succeed in the future of energy is to take these regulations seriously.
“We need to take the lead on ESG in order to thrive in the future,” he said. “I am also proud of co-heading up our renewable energy efforts. Prior to 2020, we had little to no practice in the space. Since October 2020, we have served as an adviser to five SPACs, taken one SPAC public and participated on five equity offerings, including IPOs and follow-ons.”
Falb lives with his wife, Blair, in Dallas, Texas, where he serves as managing director of investment banking with Raymond James & Associates.
A wild beginning
“I got my start in the energy business when my grandmother was ‘peppered’ (shot) at a dove shoot in South Texas hosted by a large, private oil company. After going to the hospital, my grandmother came home to a bouquet of flowers that she said looked like ‘someone had died’ and a card from one of the presidents of the company. When I needed an internship in college and asked if she knew anyone, she called the same oil company. I don’t think I even needed a résumé for that interview.
I entered the industry in 2004 with a summer internship with Hunt Oil. Out of college, I was really just looking for any job that had the potential for international travel. I’ve been to Calgary now twice for work, and that’s about as exotic as I have gotten for work, but I couldn’t be happier with the decision.”
“I am a big believer in defining why we are showing up in the office each day. For us, it is a ‘client first’ mentality, which can mean that on occasions we have had to tell our clients that a transaction, which could generate a large fee for us, does not make sense for them.
I am very determined when it comes to meeting personal goals. Every start of the new fiscal year, our group puts a number on a thermometer, and we find innovative ways to meet our goal with solid leads. Once we know we are on track, we’ll spend more time working on ‘pie in the sky’ or ‘new development areas’ to work on. This year, we doubled our team’s personal goal through our hard work and determination.
We have to be open minded to the challenges facing the industry from the outside, including the stakeholders, which are not limited to the shareholders. Historically, oil and gas led the business community on a culture of safety post-Exxon Valdez, and now we need to lead it on ESG.”
Sources of inspiration
“My business school professor of strategy, Dr. Ramajan Baliga, has been a nonjudgmental mentor and source of honest feedback since leaving business school. When I am faced with a challenge or a tough decision, he is the first person I call. When I left business school, I had a great job with a large, integrated oil company with a very regimented promotion schedule, but I was craving something with more risk and autonomy. When thinking about a career shift, he told me that I was young and now was the chance to ‘take a chance.’
One of the directors I worked with when I first came to Raymond James had a demanding personality. He was notorious for the 5 p.m. email on Friday afternoon that led to work all weekend, and I thought he was just being a jerk. He was always very upfront in his commentary, so you knew when you had messed up. In the first few years, I made my fair share of mistakes. The best advice I have been given is that the best way to learn is to not take things personally and own up to and fix your mistakes rather than make excuses. I look back on this director as one of the best people I have learned the most from in banking as he allowed me to fail and then succeed.”
“I would like to build a steady stream of M&A advisory for the sustainability and renewable energy practice. In the long term, I would like to be regarded as a leading banker in the middle market for energy.
I really enjoy consolidation opportunities, and the water space is prime for continued consolidation. I would like to see several large water companies emerge over the next few years, which would lead to improved operations and LOEs [lease operating expenses] for the industry. On the renewable energy side, it is the Wild West. I love waking up, learning something new and thinking about what is coming in the next 10 years.
We are young members that are more used to change and can therefore adapt to that change. We were in high school or college around 9/11, we got hit with the Great Recession in 2008/2009 and are now adapting to the realities of COVID-19 during the first decades of our careers."
Three More Things
- I got my start in the energy business when my grandmother was “peppered” (shot) at a dove shoot in South Texas hosted by a large, private oil company. After going to the hospital, my grandmother came home to a bouquet of flowers that she said looked like ‘someone had died’ and a card from one of the presidents of the company. When I needed an internship in college and asked if she knew anyone, she called the same oil company. I don’t think I even needed a résumé for that interview.
- I still drive a 2008 Chevy Suburban, and I’m not buying a new car anytime soon.
- I love the energy industry because it means dealing with a lot of Texans, and Texans are the best people to do business with.