Risk and Reward

Newest CEOs to join the BE 100S each answered the call to entrepreneurship

senior-level colleagues. But without a revered institution behind him, he thought clients would be reluctant to trust him with their funds.

Not one to gamble, Byrd decided in 1998 to apply his craft at one of the small boutiques and begin to execute the strategy of folding some of the relationships from his days as an entrepreneur into his investment banking business. “I did that with the full intention of beta testing my strategy, prior to launching my own firm,” says Byrd, who was able to transfer about 80% of those relationships over to the investment firm, including PSE&G, Con Ed, and Prudential. “After about three years, I felt pretty comfortable with my strategy. I had accomplished it in a major way at the firm that I was working at. In any given year I was one of the top producers at the firm.”

After trying unsuccessfully to get equity at his firm, he and three colleagues–Vernon Gatling, BLACK ENTERPRISE board member Paul T. Williams Jr., and Wendell Bristol–began mapping out a strategy to start their own firm, Toussaint Capital Partners (No. 8 on the BE INVESTMENT BANKS list with $17.6 billion in total managed issues). The group chose Byrd to head the company because of his previous entrepreneurial experience, and they began hammering out a business plan, which consisted of a thorough market analysis, how they planned to generate business, and a very conservative capitalization structure. “We made sure that we raised enough capital that, if in the first year we didn’t do any business, we would still be able to exist,” Byrd says. “Of course, we did much better than that, but we thought that was a very prudent way to go about building our business plan and selling it to investors.”

By early 2003 they had raised more than $1 million in capital from individual investors; investments from the partners; and with money from Byrd’s building maintenance enterprise, Bradford & Byrd Associates. Byrd became the majority owner of the fledgling firm, with 70% ownership. His wife, Trina, owns nearly 15%; Williams owns 10%; and the rest was split between the other partners. The firm would focus on new-issue debt and equity underwriting as well as secondary debt and equity trading with institutional portfolio managers, money managers, pension funds, treasurers of municipalities, treasurers of pension endowments, and corporations.

Each partner brought with them quality relationships, such as MetLife, Western Asset Management, and the city of New York, which became the company’s first clients. Those relationships provided a track record that Byrd uses to go after new clients. He hopes Toussaint will grow in the 20% to 35% range each year.

Another factor Byrd hopes will ensure the company’s success is his desire to acquire money-management enterprises and established broker-dealers, domestically and internationally, in markets such as Latin America and the Caribbean.

“The U.S. capital market is changing dramatically because of overregulation, which is making some emerging markets look very attractive,” he says. “You’ve got to follow the flow of money, and inevitably it’s

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