Banking vet leads firm’s Richmond debut

Gary Penrose

Gary Penrose

A veteran of the local investment banking scene has been tapped to lead a Chicago financial firm’s first push into Richmond.

Gary Penrose recently left downtown-based Davenport & Co. to join Performance Trust Capital Partners, a firm that’s recently been trying to expand its investment banking practice around the country.

Penrose, who has spent three decades in the investment banking world, is well-known among community banks for his work helping raise capital and carry out mergers and acquisitions. In addition to eight years with Davenport, he had stints with the firms previously known as Scott & Stringfellow and Ryan Beck & Co.

Performance Trust has been in business for about 20 years, mainly helping banks with their fixed-income investments used to drive revenue. It’s only in the last two years or so the firm has been trying to grow an investment banking department.

Penrose said he made the move because of Performance Trust’s ability to help with banks’ bottom lines.

“They help community banks improve their profitability,” Penrose said. “All of my clients, even the best-performing banks that I work with, could use that. The business has changed, and I need to bring something different to the table to help my clients today. It’s a new world.”

Dan Bass, head of investment banking for Performance Trust, said Penrose landed on the firm’s radar because of his long tenure working with banks in the region.

“He has a great reputation with community banks in the area,” Bass said.

Penrose has worked dozens of community bank M&A deals through the years and most recently helped with the sales of locally based Peoples Bank of Virginia and Central Virginia Bank.

In addition to bringing on Penrose in Richmond, the firm recently hired another industry veteran in New Orleans. Bass said it will look to do the same in parts of Florida, California and around the Northeast.

“We’re trying to find people just like Gary (Penrose) in various regions throughout the country,” Bass said.

Penrose started with Performance Trust on Feb. 2 and for now will be a one-man show, working to expand the brand to his clients locally and around the state.

“We’ll build out around him how he sees fit,” Bass said. “If he wants to hire an analyst and set up a full-blown office, that’s fine. We’re leaving that to him.”

Penrose said he’s working out of his house for now but will be looking for office space soon.

Penrose said M&A deals are a hot topic among community banks because of increasingly squeezed margins and expensive regulatory compliance.

“You’re seeing a lot of conversations taking place,” he said. “Scale is becoming critically important. That’s caused some banks to recognize that unless they do something, they aren’t going to be nearly as profitable as they once were, so getting bigger makes a lot of sense.”

Penrose was raised in Michigan and first came to Virginia to earn his MBA at William & Mary.

Along with his usual clients around Virginia, Penrose will also have the chance to build business with banks in Michigan, which he said was an attractive part of the deal that will bring him closer to his family.

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