The Smartest Guy in the Room (Financial Services Company of the Year)

Bernard Beal leads investment banking firm M.R. Beal & Co. to bigger deals and becomes the 2011 BE100s Financial Services Company of the Year

That’s something Paul T. Williams Jr., president of the Dormitory Authority of the State New York, can attest to. DASNY is a state entity that provides financing and construction for public and private universities, medical facilities, and other state-related institutions. It is one of the nation’s largest issuers of municipal bonds. M.R. Beal’s $1.3 billion history-making bond deal in 2010 was a DASNY issue. The personal income tax revenue bonds, or PIT bonds, were used to finance State University of New York educational facilities, as well as community colleges, City University of New York facilities, libraries, and other economic development projects. Williams, who chaired a taskforce in 2008 to better understand why minority firms weren’t leading more bond transactions, was more than pleased with the deal’s outcome.

The transaction was noteworthy not only for its size; M.R. Beal managed to orchestrate the lowest-cost PIT bond financing done by the state of New York. It made sense to choose M.R. Beal to lead the issue, says Williams, because Beal had a terrific track record. “Bernard makes it a point to be sensitive to broader state policies,” Williams notes. “That can be helpful. We need to know how transactions we’re considering might impact policy. Bernard tends to bring a more global view to his business so it’s not exclusively, ‘How do we get this one deal done?’ Also, he has a record with us of having really good market intelligence.”

AN EDUCATION

Beal has always been known for his intelligence. Born in 1954, he grew up in the Morrisania neighborhood in the South Bronx, New York. “I was the No. 1 kid in almost every subject in my school—definitely in math,” Beal laughs. “And I remember when I won the seventh-grade math prize, I went up on stage to get the award, and here was my acceptance speech: ‘You might as well put my name on it in the eighth grade and ninth grade, because I’m going to win those too. This is ridiculous—we shouldn’t even have a competition.’”

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