Alex Fieldcamp is an experienced finance and investment professional based out of New York City. He is an Investment Banker at Benedetto Gartland, where he brings his expertise in investment banking, corporate development, and strategic finance. Throughout his career, Fieldcamp has consistently exhibited a deep knowledge of financial modeling, corporate finance, capital raising, and mergers & acquisitions.
Prior to his time at Benedetto Gartland, Fieldcamp held several positions in the field of finance and investments. His experience includes time at Prodigy Network, a technology-driven real estate investment platform for accredited investors. Prior to that, he was an Associate at Violy & Company, an investment bank focused on strategic advisory for Latin American businesses. Fieldcamp began his career as an Equity Research Analyst at Franklin Templeton Investments.
Before his successful career in finance and investments, Alex Fieldcamp earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Economics & Management from Cornell University. Growing up in New York, Fieldcamp was exposed to the world of finance at an early age and developed an affinity for financial markets and investing. In his spare time, he enjoys getting out of the city on weekends to go hiking or swimming.
Alex Fieldcamp is also involved with a number of local charities and philanthropic organizations in his hometown of New York, NY. He is an active member of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, which aims to educate the public on critical ethical issues affecting the world. He is also a volunteer at the New York Common Pantry, which provides meals for those in need throughout the city.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
Growing up in New York, I was exposed to the world of finance at an early age and developed a keen interest in financial markets. I was fortunate enough to attend a Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting when I was in high school, and was so intrigued by Warren Buffet that I poured through his biographies and investor letters to learn his views on business and investment analysis. That led me to pursue a business degree at Cornell, and eventually a career in finance and investments.
Many investment bankers view themselves as entrepreneurs due to the nature of the job, and I agree that it is more of an entrepreneurial career path than perhaps many realize. For example, you must be able to think from the perspective of a business owner when advising clients, essentially placing yourself in their shoes. Being able to connect with and fully understand the perspective of business owners is one of the most crucial aspects of investment banking.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
From a working perspective, almost every day looks different and requires adaptability. Beyond the aspects I already mentioned, investment banking can also be considered entrepreneurial in that no one day is exactly the same. Between business analysis and financial modeling, crafting marketing materials, and helping put out client fires, there are always new and unexpected challenges that regularly pop up despite any best-laid plans. The key is effective prioritization and time management.
From a purely practical standpoint, my morning constant is simply a cup of coffee. I will also try my best to get some fresh air by taking a walk along the East River or through Central Park to clear my head in the evening. Since the onset of the pandemic, I have also been fortunate to work hybrid, both in-office and remote, which has allowed me more time to exercise regularly.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Crafting a “story” or “narrative” is a critical aspect of almost any investment banking transaction, and thus story-telling and being able to bring ideas to life are critical skills in this field. I begin by obtaining a complete understanding of a client’s business, which entails extensive financial and operational due diligence. This provides a sturdy base that allows us to form a coherent, compelling story.
It often helps to put myself in the shoes of potential financial and strategic investors, and ask myself – what makes this specific opportunity compelling? I sometimes have to remind myself not to overthink it and that very often the cleanest, simplest narrative is the way to go. Overcomplicating things when it comes to the core “idea” is usually a poor tactic, even if the financial elements of the deal are complex.
What’s one trend that excites you?
A trend that really excites me is financial literacy being taught in high school. I have long maintained that not making personal finance education a mandatory aspect of high school in the United States has been a disservice to our country as a whole, and particularly for those from underprivileged backgrounds. Personal finance is arguably more fundamental than many, if not most, of the traditional subjects that are taught.
The vast majority of people are only taught about personal finances at home via their parents, if at all. The fact is, studies show that those with higher financial literacy are far more likely to stay out of financial hardship. There are currently legislatures being introduced in about half the states, comprising 60 different bills, that will make personal finance education accessible. I believe this will greatly benefit our society as a whole.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Being able to prioritize effectively. A common issue that both entrepreneurs and finance professionals face is how to handle multiple urgent tasks at once. I have found that the most effective way to navigate these situations is to prioritize (as difficult as that may be) and devote your full attention to each item one at a time.
One of my favorite quotes that speaks to the importance of prioritizing comes from Ray Dalio, one of the most successful investors of all time, via his book Principles – “if you work hard and think creatively, you can have just about anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want.” Devoting only partial attention to multiple tasks and trying to complete everything at once will typically lead to inferior overall results.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to be more present. My younger self would sometimes become overly concerned with potential paths and decisions that were years down the road, often to the detriment of what was right in front of me. While one should have a clear goal in mind for the future, within the context of that goal it is best to take things a day, a week, or even a month at a time rather than meticulously planning out every possible diverging path that may or may not occur years down the line.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe that there is a significant over-emphasis on where someone went to college, in both a personal and professional context. People are so often judged based on their educational background, but I have learned that there is surprisingly little correlation between someone’s intelligence and where they went to university and that one’s performance in school does not always translate to professional career success.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I think the one constant for anyone to be successful, regardless of your field, is hard work. One of my favorite sayings is “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” I firmly believe that no matter how intelligent someone is, without hard work that intelligence will go to waste. My recommendation for anyone who wants to be successful, whatever their definition of “success,” is to put in the work. There are so many variables out of your control, but you can always count on your effort.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
A strategy that has certainly helped me in my career is to check my ego at the door and understand that I don’t know everything. Collaboration is vital to the success of any business, and there’s always an opportunity to learn – no matter who you are, or how much you think you know. If you can welcome collaboration with people who are experts in what they do, more often than not it will lead to better results than going it alone.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One failure I had early on in my career, ironically enough, was not admitting to a failure. Rather than be fully transparent, I covered up for a relatively minor mistake I had made, when it would have been in the best interest of my team to immediately acknowledge the mistake, work to resolve it, and move forward. I realized going forward that being fully accountable for your mistakes creates a better working environment, and does not lead to the hypothetical adverse consequences that I had initially feared.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Rather than give a specific business idea, I would like to give some general advice to your readers about starting their own business, because I believe you should not even consider starting your own business if you can’t think of your own idea.
A business idea needs to be something you are passionate about. Starting a business is a difficult, trying endeavor and you may have to wait a long time before getting any tangible success or validation. If you are not absolutely passionate about it, you are not likely to have the grit and determination required to see your idea through.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Renewing one of my go-to news subscriptions. Staying informed on the economy, financial markets, and geopolitical landscape is necessary from a professional perspective because it allows me to properly adjust any analysis or advice for clients as necessary. Staying on top of the news cycle is also useful personally, as it can allow for enlightening conversations beyond the standard small talk.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
This may not be an exciting answer, but I’ll keep it simple and say Google Sheets and Microsoft SharePoint. My first job out of college was in equity research at a large investment management firm, and the team I joined there had no system in place to easily collaborate on a single spreadsheet or document. Files would all be saved locally to personal drives and shared via email, and it would be a task in itself to reconcile input from the senior analysts when working on a stock pitch or portfolio review. Since then, I have consistently used Google Sheets and/or Microsoft SharePoint and can personally attest that they make collaborative projects significantly more efficient.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I highly recommend Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. It delves deep into the science of behavioral psychology and decision-making, and explains our rational vs. non-rational thought processes. There are invaluable lessons to be gleaned that are applicable to any field or industry. It is essential to understand the role of cognitive biases in our decision-making, both at the corporate level and in our day-to-day lives.
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is one of Abraham Lincoln’s favorite sayings – “this too shall pass.” Success should not be taken for granted, and failure should not be taken as final. You must be able to accept the good with the bad, and vice versa. It is crucial to not dwell on the past and to keep moving forward.
- Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. Intelligence alone will not lead to success. It must be combined with the requisite effort.
- Have a clear long-term goal in mind, but try to take things one step at a time.
- Prioritizing effectively is the key to multitasking. In the words of Ray Dalio, “you can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want.”
- A business idea (or even a career) should be something you are passionate about.
- Without passion, you are unlikely to have the grit required to see it through.
- Remember that “this too shall pass.” This applies to both failure and success. The key is to keep moving forward.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.