Håkan Wohlin is a successful international banker and entrepreneur with more than 30 years of experience in the financial services sector. He has held senior positions at Deutsche Bank, most notably serving as Global Head of Debt Origination. At present, he is the Founder & Managing Partner of advisory firm KingsRock Advisors, which focuses on capital and financial solutions, structural complexity and originating unique investment opportunities. Based in New York, he has assembled a highly qualified network of affiliated advisors and partners with experience across financial advisory, capital markets, asset management operations, investment strategies, investment research, distribution and risk.
Håkan Wohlin’s early securities and capital markets career was at Bear Stearns & Co in New York. This was followed by a senior position at Prudential Securities, and Executive Vice President at the international software company Corechange. After these experiences, Wohlin moved to Deutsche Bank, where he stayed for thirteen years. He started out as Head of Nordic Capital Markets Coverage & Debt Capital Markets and later was Head of Nordic, Dutch and Switzerland Capital Markets Coverage & DCM. He was then promoted to Head of European Capital Markets Origination & DCM, where he led a team of over 200 employees. This was followed by five years as Global Head of Debt Origination. He managed over 50 Managing Directors of a total team of 300 in a matrix organisation, transacting deals from over 80 countries with over 900 clients, corporations, financials, sovereign, agencies and supranational issuers, raising approximately $1.25 trillion in 25 different currencies annually for these clients. He travelled extensively in all regions during these years.
Through helping lead a core business for one of the world’s largest banks, Håkan Wohlin contributed his experience and skills across multiple operations. He and his team successfully steered the business through many challenging situations. He played a key role in the Eurozone debt crisis and took the lead for the bank on the two Greek PSI Sovereign debt exchanges – the first being the largest ever financial transaction and both being the largest sovereign restructuring deals at the time. He has worked extensively in structuring finance, in risk management deals, M&A acquisition finance, high yield and high grade, emerging and developed markets. Wohlin now lends his experience as a Senior Advisor to Archegos Capital Management LP, a family investment office based in New York and InCred Capital, a financial services company in Mumbai.
Throughout his career, Håkan Wohlin has worked in London and New York, where he currently resides. During his term at Deutsche Bank, the team received the prestigious IFR Global Bond House award for three consecutive years. He has the FINRA SIE, Series 82, Series 79 and Series 63 qualifications, and is a registered representative of Réva Capital Markets LLC, a New York based registered broker dealer, which is a member of FINRA and SIPC. He was Vice Chairman of ICMA (International Capital Markets Association) and is a current member the University Club in New York.
Where did the idea for KingsRock Advisors come from?
I’ve always been entrepreneurial at heart. Although, I spent decades working in the financial services industry and for established banks like Deutsche Bank, I wanted to take the most productive years of my career into a new venture, instead of working for an established organisation.
Within my field, there has been a very significant increase in ‘alternative’ private assets to be invested. As such, I have been approached by alternative asset managers looking for origination and creation of more interesting investment opportunities around the world. That is why I thought it was the right time to start a unique advisory firm providing alternative investment solutions amongst other key services. I believe that KingsRock Advisors meets the demand of a new type of agile financial services advisory.
The firm’s core focus is working with our clients to solve unique opportunities and special situations. We are committed to delivering long term value creation for our clients. To do so, we leverage a highly qualified network of independent affiliated advisors with experience across financial advisory, capital markets, asset management operations, investment strategies, investment research, distribution and risk. We provide high-level service yet keep all the perks of a small boutique firm.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
For anyone to be successful, I believe it’s imperative to get an early start. For me, a typical day starts with getting up before 6am to start working. My motto is to keep running until you undoubtedly collapse around midnight. But to be productive, you need to make sure you’re organised as well as committed to accomplishing all your outstanding tasks.
Also, make sure you have enough time to read. And this includes non-financial literature, such as historical, spiritual, nature topics etc. I also find it critical to find some space to relax your mind by exercising in whatever form you like, while also juggling the huge demands of the day. Cycling is my favourite.
Be organised. As for most entrepreneurs right now, the day will be filled with back to back Zoom calls. I look to schedule all my video conference calls to work smoothly throughout the day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Bringing ideas to life requires a whole team. It is key to listen more than you speak, ask advice and counsel from people who are undoubtedly smarter or more experienced than you in their respective field. This creates a momentum by being open to ideas rather than trying to control a thought process. Let your guard down and see what happens when you have a team of partners and associates you trust with which you can bounce off ideas from. Then there really are no limits to creativity.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I would say the ways in which technology and communication have accelerated in the recent years. With more and more people working remotely, Zoom and other digital communication technologies have made communicating more efficient. I am sure we will be digitally imposed in the future so it feels like we are sitting around meeting tables. In fact, technology allows us to connect on complex matters quickly. However, this doesn’t mean we should forget the value of human connection.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Lots of people think that you need to be at the centre of every key decision process in your business to be successful. However, I think, decentralising decision making is actually just as if not more important. I get into the habit of delegating – decentralising is a better word for it – to the circle around me. In that way, you can ascertain the essence of an idea and then allow it to be shared and developed by others. You can build momentum to industrialise business, create scale and ultimately success. If you try to do everything by yourself, you’ll never build anything.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would firstly tell myself: accept you cannot be an expert in all things – a desire I grappled with as a young man. Second: be thoughtful about deciding who you spend your time with. The wiser and more thoughtful you can be with regards to picking the right friends and business partners, the more successful you will become. Lastly, chase after you dreams. Remember there is nothing to fear but fear itself.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
There is a great motto, which I also had included on the KingsRock Advisors website:
“Pursue the Known Known. Develop the Known Unknown. Explore the Unknown Unknown.”
Some people might say the latter is impossible – I don’t believe that’s true.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Be tenacious in everything that you do. Giving up might be the simpler approach. Or compromising on your vision to make things easier for yourself. Also don’t be afraid of mistakes. I would recommend to action many ideas, even if this means making mistakes, as it will make you get it right. It’s better to relentlessly follow your ideas even if it means finding out things don’t quite work. Don’t focus on what other people think. If you know your ideas are winners, follow your instincts.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Not being afraid to use all the connections you’ve built up around the globe. I will have said this before but it’s so important to have an open mind to explore new ideas. All of our clients know that we have a genuine and proactive interest in them. At KingsRock Advisors, we value the input we receive from engaging with people in every continent. Our clients will trust that we have their best interests at heart. We think of it as an on-going trusting relationship more than a transaction. In this way, it also helps us to become clearer thinkers and more quickly advance the business.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
At an earlier stage in my career, we had a phenomenal software business during the tech boom- Corechange. Had we managed to list the company on NASDAQ in time, before the dot-com crash, it could have become very successful. But we had to sell the business instead. Sometimes one can have a great idea in a great environment, but it just doesn’t fall into place. Some people will use that experience as an excuse to go back into their comfort zone. But you can’t ever give up. Just get right back up and into the ring. In my case, that meant going on to build my career in investment banking.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I believe that bottled water is overpriced and horrendous for our climate. Companies will transport plastic bottles from Fiji around the globe, even if there is no indication whether the product is that much better. Customers are paying more for these brands and there are no real health benefits. My business idea would be to create New York tap water in a fancy bottle. Sell that bottled water at a reasonable price with greener packaging and I’m convinced people would pay for the product. And give part of the profit to homeless in New York.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Save the Children, no question. I’m supporting kids in Mozambique and Zambia and who certainly need it more than I do. COVID-19 has definitely added a much greater burden on the world at the moment. If there is something you can do to make a small difference, then it’s worth it. The letters I received back from these children made my day.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I love Zoom. I use it all the time whether for attending meetings or conferences. It’s such a useful way to organise meetings and communicate rapidly with clients and business associates easily while still maintaining a connection.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Bible. Even though people come from all different faiths and beliefs, it can be for everybody. There is five to six thousand years of wisdom packed into one book, and I’d be stunned if someone did not take something from it.
What is your favorite quote?
“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do sir?” – John Maynard Keynes.
• Be open minded and willing to explore new ideas.
• Develop connections far and wide.
• When you surround yourself with smart and bright people, trust them by delegating.
• Don’t give up when you encounter setbacks, pick yourself up and keep going.
• Embrace technology as a tool to enhance and not hinder your professional relationships.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.