David Munoz is a banking, financial services, and fintech leader and advisor with over 25 years of experience in the U.S., Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. He is presently the CEO of Vektrust, a merchant capital and advisory firm focused on assisting companies in refocusing strategy and improving ROIs.
David began his career in investment banking. At BlackRock, he was the Global Head of Credit Strategy and the Global Co-Head of Macroeconomic Strategy for the company’s $780 billion Fundamental Fixed Income division. During this time, David was also a founding member of R3 Capital Partners, a $3 billion multi-strategy credit hedge fund anchored by Soros Capital Management.
Following his time at BlackRock, David was recruited to be the Chief Executive Officer of Deltec International Group, a global banking and financial services business. In this role, David leveraged not only his financial expertise, but his distinct strategic insight, and grew the business from roughly $2 billion of assets under management to over $12 billion of assets under management between 2012 and 2018.
In 2019, David launched Vektrust, a merchant capital business aimed to increase the probability of success for early and mid-stage companies by providing management expertise, strategic alignment, and tactical execution.
In addition to Vektrust, David is a board member of Cypress Creek Funds, a next-generation, full-spectrum private markets platform investing in private equity, real assets, and private debt. He is also a strategic advisor to HOLT Xchange, a leading fintech entrepreneurship program in Canada.
David spent a decade as a senior banker in global M&A for leading Wall Street firms, such as Credit Suisse and Lehman Brothers, and was also a board member and investor in GCSA LLC, a provider of soft capital solutions for the global clearinghouse industry. Additionally, he was a co-founder of Access Personal Finance, a consumer lending business. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in Economics from Princeton University.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
Too many managers struggle in prioritizing their strategy to focus on their highest utility projects. If we take as a given that utility is equal to customer impact, once you simplify your strategy to the objectives that result in the highest customer-impact per effort expended, that brings immense clarity to a company’s mission. It is a win-win-win for the company, customers, and investors.
We provide merchant capital and/or advisory services to companies at this stage of development. Our objective is to grow company ROI by bringing insights and clarity to their decision-making priorities, assisting in their execution planning, and extracting efficiencies out of their cost structures.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I write down ideas first thing in the morning for a few minutes, then read for 3-4 hours. After that, I make calls for two hours and follow that with thinking quietly for two hours. Later in the day, I work out for an hour and put my kids to sleep. If I need to after that, I’ll make a few more calls, then plan my next day for 30 minutes, before finishing the day with some more reading.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I brainstorm strategies freeform first, then I consider all stakeholder perspectives. Prioritize rigorously, define goals, and develop metrics. Once those have been defined, I create long-term plans and break down those long-term plans into short-term plans. As the idea is implemented, I measure progress against those plans. Rinse, repeat.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Tokenization of assets. Beyond the tokenization of securities markets, the world will move to a tokenized future where real-world asset ownership and transactions will be recorded on blockchain. And then you have derivative transactions from these transactions which will all be governed by smart contracts. It will be a world where a car will be sold, title will transfer, insurance will be taken out, parking contracts will novate, passes will transfer and all of that will be recorded and memorialized via blockchain.
The macroeconomic and microeconomic efficiency gains and transparency will generate huge productivity spikes across the world. One of the pillars of socioeconomic advancement in history was the advent of property rights. It still is a fundamental requirement for broad economic progress in any society. The tokenization of assets brings this advancement to the world. For less developed countries the benefits are tamper-resistant, corruption-resistant, and transparent ownership. For more developed countries, it brings tremendous efficiency gains to existing property rights protocols.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Meticulous planning: daily, weekly, and quarterly. Plans can always change, but you need direction when you work. You can’t divine direction while you work.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell him to say “No” more often to himself. I have burdened myself unnecessarily many times in my career because I wasn’t ruthless about pruning my priorities. Many times, this has led me down paths of exploration that I wouldn’t have otherwise, but many more times it has de-focused my attention on the truly important goals I have at the time.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Inflation will remain high for the better part of this decade.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Always assess the counterfactuals. When we make decisions, it’s not sufficient to do a post-mortem to measure the outcome of that decision in isolation. We need to regress to an earlier point where we evaluate other alternatives that we had in hand and didn’t take. As best we can, we need to recreate those counterfactual outcomes to see why we were wrong in our decision-making. That’s the most intellectually honest way to assess ourselves and grow as business stewards.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Challenge popular opinion regularly. Popular opinion typically has one of three outcomes: it is either (1) correct, (2) incorrect but self-reinforces itself to become reality, or (3) self-reinforces to a point when it collapses dramatically under its own shaky foundation.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
A client of mine repeatedly berated our customer service staff for months. Our staff wasn’t completely faultless, but they also didn’t deserve the lack of respect. I was ambivalent about confronting the client because they generated a lot of revenue and were also connected to other clients of ours. I didn’t appreciate the effect it had on our staff and on morale. I confronted the client after a few months and we lost them.
It was a short-term loss but a long-term win for our business. Most of the connected clients increased business with us in the following years as they too were subjected to emotional tirades by the first client and applauded our decision; they also noticed the improvement in client service.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Create a service that ranks reviewers. Reviews online are not comparable across user groups. As a consumer you need to calibrate the reviews you read online and think about the universe of reviewers who have submitted those reviews before you can interpret the aggregate results of those reviews. Current reviews are marginally useful as they are. A lot of people would pay for reviews that were calibrated and normalized.
A great old-world example of this is Zagat, the restaurant review business. Their ratings were comparable across restaurants within a city. You could rely on their ratings to make a dinner reservation decision. They spent considerable time calibrating their reviewers before compiling their lists. It was certainly subjective in those days, but it worked. You could get much more objective results today by using a broad range of user scores beyond just their rating submissions.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Notion. It is a simple-to-use and cost-effective way of organizing yourself and your teams in one place.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Zero to One by Peter Thiel. It is a bit repetitive, but it brings you back to the basics of business success. We often mistake complication for sophistication. And actually, the simple answers to complex problems are often the most effective, and elegant.
- Prioritize ruthlessly.
- Question regularly.
- Read aggressively.
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.