In the end, Lovell Minnick Partners didn’t need to search far to find its first female dealmaker.
Lovell Minnick said Aug. 1 that Roumi Zlateva joined the firm as a vice president. Zlateva was previously a director in the financial-institutions group at UBS Securities. She was also an associate at Oak Hill Capital Partners, as well as a FIG analyst at Morgan Stanley.
But it was her relationship with Steven Pierson, Lovell’s president, that clinched the job. Zlateva worked for Pierson for two years when he ran FIG at UBS.
“She was head and shoulders our top choice,” Pierson said in an interview with Buyouts. “She brings nearly 10 years of financial-services experience, including strong leadership and solid investing judgment to the firm. We are truly fortunate to have her on our team.”
Lovell Minnick, Radnor, Pennsylvania, is a middle-market PE firm focused on financial and business services. The firm employs about 30 people, including 18 on its investment team. It does have several women: Irene Hong Edwards joined Lovell in January as a principal and head of investor relations, and the firm’s controller and assistant controller are also both women.
Lovell wanted to fill the VP position, traditionally a stepping stone to more senior positions at the firm, with the best qualified person, Pierson said. A diverse candidate would be an added bonus, especially since the firm’s three other VPs are men. “Everyone wants to increase the diversity of their workforce,” Pierson said.
Private equity is not known for diversity. The percentage of women holding senior roles at buyout firms dropped for a second year in 2016, to 7.3 percent, Buyouts has reported. That’s down from 7.5 percent in 2015 and 9 percent in 2014, Preqin said.
Lovell began its search for a VP in late 2016. It didn’t use a recruiter. Instead, the firm reached out to business schools and its own network to find applicants. It interviewed hundreds of candidates but still ran into a common problem, he said. “It’s difficult to find minorities and females with experience in private equity,” Pierson said.
Similar to investment banking, the pool of applicants for PE jobs is incredibly small and the “people are in super-high demand,” he said. Lovell Minnick also wanted a candidate with financial-services experience and accounting skills specific to the industry, Pierson said. “There is a lot of regulatory knowledge you need to function in the space,” he said.
Lovell’s search produced a dozen finalists, of whom two or three were women. Zlateva came armed with experience in corporate advisory, origination and structuring, as well as a background in financial services. Pierson noted that at UBS, in a relatively junior-level post, Zlateva was able to bring in clients, which he said was impressive.
“She’s incredibly well-rounded. She’s got direct experience in the sector. In fact, her entire career has been in financial services. … She was our top choice regardless of our interest in diversity,” Pierson said.
Lovell Minnick wants to hire more women but has no other open positions right now, Pierson said. The firm is looking to fill some senior adviser spots, but the roles cater to executives who have had long careers and are not looking to work full-time. “We’d certainly welcome and have been looking to get some diversity into the senior ranks,” he said.
Action Item: Email Lovell Minnick’s Steven Pierson at email@example.com
Photo of Roumi Zlateva courtesy of Lovell Minnick