When a company reliably announces new team members and promotions on a quarterly basis, it’s safe to assume the firm is growing at a rapid clip. In such a dynamic environment, it’s important to keep an eye on where you’ve been in order to better inform where you’re going. From the very beginning, Livingstone sought to forge a different path from other investment banks.
Ryan Buckley believed in the vision, joining the firm at its inception in 2007. As US Livingstonian #3, Ryan’s career has developed alongside Livingstone’s reputation as a firm that gets deals done. Recently named partner, Ryan answered a few questions designed to get to know him, and his motivations, a bit better.
When and why did you join Livingstone?
I joined Livingstone to continue pursuing a passion for M&A advisory within an entrepreneurial environment. Being in the enviable position to execute upon the vision of building a differentiated platform, while having the white space to develop an M&A practice of my choosing, was inspiring on both personal and professional levels. The opportunity also provided the chance to assist in architecting our deal processes, hiring talented professionals, building our global partnership, and developing back-office functions.
What does your typical day entail?
My day often begins with the noisy bedside-arrival of one of my children at an unnaturally early hour. The best days allow for a morning run along Chicago’s scenic lake shore, followed by an early start at the office before the phone calls and emails commence in earnest. Whether I’m on the road or in the office, no day is ever the same. Each transaction and each client is differentiated with unique and varied demands. The environment is thrilling.
What is the most enjoyable part about working for Livingstone?
Our distinguished culture, talented and driven teammates, and emphasis on meritocracy, as well as the opportunity to learn and grow daily alongside exceptional colleagues and inspiring clients.
How has Livingstone impacted your career?
Livingstone afforded me, as it does to all bankers, the opportunity to build a sector-focused M&A practice from whole cloth, which I’m proud to be doing in healthcare services, generally, and physical therapy in particular. Over more than a decade, Livingstone has become one of the most active advisors in the physical therapy industry, completing over a dozen deals – including advising on the formation of three of the top 12 largest PE-backed physical therapy platforms – and, in the process, emerging as a thought-leader in the space. The opportunity and support that Livingstone provides to younger bankers seeking to create sector-focused practices – unshackled from senior bankers who might otherwise claim ownership over of a sector – is unrivaled across mid-market investment banks. This model of meritocracy has been a driving force behind our growth and success over the last 10 years, and will continue to differentiate Livingstone in the years to come.
What is your most memorable moment working at Livingstone?
The most memorable moments undoubtedly occur when our global partnership (now 115+ professionals strong across seven global offices) convenes for our annual off-sites. These moments will be cherished for a lifetime and include après-ski sessions in the Austrian Alps, bull-fighting and rugby-style scrumming in the streets of Madrid, sailing in the Baltic Ocean, firm-wide Olympic games in Chicago, a dinner boat cruise through Stockholm’s archipelago, and international strategy sessions on the beaches of Miami. During these events, our teammates have built the long-lasting relationships that set apart Livingstone in the global marketplace.
What is your most memorable deal?
All clients maintain a special space in my heart (of course). My practice, similar to the broader firm, is majority focused on owner-operator clients, which allow for the honor of advising a founder or a family on monetizing its life’s work. It has been a particular privilege to work with a few clients on an ongoing, “lifecycle” basis, and to really help them through major strategic initiatives and often multiple transactions. Some of our clients have grown 5x to 25x their size during the span of the Livingstone relationship.
What hobbies or activities do you enjoy outside of work?
My limited free time is spent ushering my two young kids to and from sporting practices and other activities around Lincoln Park. I alleviate stress through running, relax by reading non-fiction novels or binge watching mini-series, and experience Chicago with my wife, Jennifer, via food and drink.