“Quick Fire” with Louis Jans

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We chat with ECI Investment Associate Louis Jans about the biggest insight he’s learned since joining nearly a year ago, how his international background gives him an edge, and who inspires him.

Q: You’ve been at ECI for nearly a year. Is it what you expected?

Yes, it’s definitely everything I had hoped for.

As part of my interview process, I was asked to provide my motivations for switching from investment banking to PE, which for me among others, was the more diverse job description. The technical elements which I like – analysis, corporate finance and modelling are still present in my current role but it’s complemented with more time thinking commercially and strategically – the human side of things.

Nearly a year in, I am very glad to confirm it is everything I hoped for, and more!

Q: Can you describe your day-to-day role as an Investment Associate at ECI?

I’m going to start with a massive cliché, and that is, it’s very rare two days are the same.
That said, my job is broadly split into three buckets. The first and main bucket is deal execution. The second is origination, and the third is working with our portfolio companies.

In reality, what that means is that one day you can be heads down in financial analysis or modelling as part of a live deal. The next day I can be out in Amsterdam or Belgium meeting new management teams or corporate finance advisors and building relationships. And the day after I could be working on the refinancing or a bolt-on for one of our portfolio companies.

Q: Prior to ECI, you spent four years at an investment bank. How has that helped in your role here?

Even though the jobs are very different, in my view, it’s probably the best experience I could have had in preparation for ECI.

I’ve learned a huge amount of technical skills in banking. I became super-efficient, quick and accurate. So it has been a very good foundation which has allowed me to spend more time on strategic, commercial and operational thinking. Which at the end of the day, is where the real value lies.

Q: You’re originally from Belgium, studied in Spain and have travelled extensively. Does your international background help in your role?

Yes, it does. I think gives me an edge. Obviously the language capabilities are a massive plus and a broader appreciation of diverse cultures also really helps. But it doesn’t take away from the fact that I can and need to excel in any UK-based deal or activity as effectively as my local peers do.

Q: Are you focusing on any interesting areas at the moment?

I‘m spending a degree of time looking at Benelux, leveraging my existing network and opening it up to ECI, as well as actively trying to meet new people. It’s a super interesting market, with a lot of ambitious management teams leading high-growth companies that are actively looking to scale internationally.

Q: What’s the biggest insight you’ve gained since joining ECI?

I would say that at the end of the day, everything comes down to human interactions and the power of your network in our industry. It’s a very small world so consistently doing the right thing and building genuinely meaningful relationships is vital.

You can do all the analysis, modelling and due diligence you want to, but if you don’t have the right relationships, you’ll never be able to close the deal.

Q: What excites you the most in your role?

It’s hard to point to a single thing, but the diverse nature of the job, that every day looks different and requires thinking about multiple things at the same time is exciting and keeps things interesting.

Another great thing is the opportunity to interact with and learn from all the ambitious and interesting management teams and founders we get to work with.

Q: What advice would you give someone wanting to get into private equity?

My best advice is that you should force yourself to start thinking as an investor in your current role, regardless of what that might be. So whenever you are working on something, try to take a step back and think for yourself, in a structured way, is this a good business to invest in or not? In my experience, that’s what 90% of private equity interviews are about. It makes your life a lot easier if you think in that way before you start interviewing.

Quick Fire with Louis: 

Ghent, London or somewhere else?

In short, to live, 100% London. I love the international nature of the city and that after five years of living here, I continue to meet new people every week. On the other hand it’s only a two-hour train ride from home, so I don’t have the feeling that I’m missing out on life back home. It’s the best of both worlds.

Favourite film?

Anything directed by Christopher Nolan; Inception, Interstellar, Tenet, The Prestige, Batman, all of the above. I love the mind-bending nature of his narratives.

What do you do to relax and unwind?

Hanging out with friends and ideally while doing something active. So in London quite often that’s playing football on the weekends and grabbing a drink afterwards. When travelling, usually anything that involves a board – snowboarding, wakeboarding, kitesurfing etc.

Who would play you in a film?

It would have to be Ryan Reynolds. He’s by far the funniest and most relatable actor of our generation I would say. He’s also proved himself to be a great businessman too.

Who inspires you?

My godfather. He also started out studying in our hometown and over time, managed to work himself up to a very successful career in New York. He is the first person I would go to for important advice.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t try and force yourself into the spotlight. Rather, consistently do a good job on whatever people ask from you, no matter how big or small, and over time, people will notice.

ECI announce close of latest fund

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