Five Questions With: Eric Czepyha

Eric Czepyha is head of private business advisory for BNY Mellon Wealth Management. He provides expertise and guidance in the review and analysis of client business interests, including financial analysis and valuation, mergers and acquisitions, pre-transaction planning and corporate governance.

Prior to joining BNY Mellon, he served as both global head of trusts and estates specialty assets and head of closely held asset management at J.P. Morgan Private Bank. Before that, he was a director for the global mergers and acquisitions group at Barclay’s Investment Bank. Czepyha holds a juris doctorate degree from Harvard Law School. He also graduated summa cum laude from Colombia University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English.

PBN: How did you get into the wealth-management field?

CZEPYHA: I began my career as a mergers and acquisitions attorney in a large corporate law firm in New York City, then became an investment banker specializing in mergers and acquisitions, and eventually joined a large financial institution, where I spent five years in the trusts and estate department managing closely held businesses as a trustee for high net worth clients.

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Joining BNY Mellon Wealth Management was a great opportunity for me to leverage the skill set I have developed over the years to provide our private business owner clients with a “holistic” perspective of their life – helping them to understand how their business life overlaps with their personal life and developing comprehensive solutions that take both into consideration.

PBN: In your current position, which issues do you commonly tackle when advising clients?

CZEPYHA: The issues I typically encounter when advising business owner clients generally fall into two categories: family and corporate governance, and transaction-related issues. Family and corporate governance involves developing a formal framework for information sharing and decision-making for our clients that clearly defines the roles of family, board members, shareholders and management as it relates to the client’s business.

Transaction-related issues include helping clients to prepare their business for sale, helping clients to understand their “number” [i.e., what price they would need to sell their business for in order to achieve their long-term personal financial objectives], and working with our wealth strategists to develop a wealth-transfer plan for our clients to reduce the potential estate tax liability on their business and mitigate the tax impact if the business is sold.

PBN: From the wealth-management perspective, how would you describe current economic conditions?

CZEPYHA: I advise business owners and entrepreneurs, so I look primarily at macroeconomic factors that I can reference when clients ask me, “Is now a good time to sell my business?” All else being equal, we are currently in a very favorable mergers and acquisitions environment for private business sale transactions. Mergers and acquisition valuation multiples are at record highs. Mergers and acquisition deal volume continues to be robust. And the cost of raising debt to help finance a business acquisition is still relatively inexpensive.

PBN: How is the current regulatory environment helping or hindering the wealth-management business?

CZEPYHA: I think the recent corporate tax law changes have helped to sustain the strong mergers and acquisitions cycle we are continuing to see in the market. Companies have more capital to deploy in driving growth through strategic merger and acquisitions, and would-be targets are generating more cash flow, making them more-attractive acquisition candidates.

PBN: What do you see as the greatest threat to the industry?

CZEPYHA: In virtually every aspect of our society, there is a growing trend toward automation. I think it’s important to remember that the work we do as wealth advisers is complex, benefits from one-on-one personal dialogue and requires deep-dive analysis by a highly coordinated team of experts. You can’t get good advice with a click of a button.

Scott Blake is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Blake@pbn.com.