Changing of the guard set for downtown investment banking firm

Tom Kelso (left) will retire at year’s end and pass the baton to Spencer Cavalier.

A transition is underway for the top post at a Richmond investment banking firm.

Matrix Capital Markets Group will have a changing of the guard at year’s end, with President Tom Kelso to be succeeded by Spencer Cavalier, who’s been the heir apparent for several years.

The change comes as Kelso is ready to retire after 25 years at Matrix, including the last 10 as president.

Cavalier, who’s based in the firm’s Baltimore office, joined Matrix in the late 90s after a stint with Nations Bank to team with Kelso on what was then a two-man group working deals in the energy and convenience retail sectors.

“It was just to the two of us and now we’re the biggest group in the firm with 20 bankers,” said Cavalier. “(Kelso) has given a lot to the firm and been a great leader and built the firm.”

Matrix now has 38 investment bankers in its ranks in offices in Richmond, Baltimore and a new outpost in New York City.

The firm handles mergers and acquisitions, capital raises and valuations for companies in downstream energy, healthcare, and consumer and industrial products sectors.

Matrix is headquartered in the Gateway Plaza building. (BizSense file)

Cavalier said the firm typically closes 15-30 deals a year and has completed 500 transactions since its founding. He said 2021 was a “really big” year but would not disclose revenue specifics. The firm’s deals typically range in value from $20 million to $800 million.

After being groomed for the position for about three years, Cavalier, 52, will continue to be based in Baltimore upon taking the helm. He said that won’t affect Richmond’s status as the firm’s headquarters location. Matrix keeps its home base on the eighth floor of the McGuireWoods-anchored Gateway Plaza building downtown, where it moved last year and where the bulk of its employees are based.

The change in the leadership ranks also includes the hiring of the firm’s first ever chief operating officer. James Munsey recently joined Matrix from Richmond-based Connected Solutions Group.

New COO James Munsey

With Munsey in place to run the day-to-day operational work, Cavalier said he has no intention of stepping away from the deal-making side, in addition to taking on his new president duties.

“Seventy percent of my work will continue to be banking. The rest will be working more with the other groups and helping them with their marketing efforts and transaction issues that come up and helping grow the next generation of leaders in the firm… and just keeping the culture of what we have here intact,” he said.

An important part of that culture is pinned to the fact that Matrix has remained independently owned. Cavalier said it’s a point of pride in investment banking world.

“Most firms like ours stay really small or over time get bought or just fold. We’re very proud this will be our 35th year of being an independent advisory firm,” he said.

Matrix was founded in Richmond in 1988 by Scott Frayser and Jeff Moore. Moore held the president post until retiring from the firm in 2012 to launch his own private equity firm.

Cavalier said continued, but slow growth will be the mantra for Matrix when his tenure begins. He said near-term growth will come from spreading the word about its new healthcare and capital advisory groups, which are ramping up mainly in Baltimore and New York.

“These two new groups have a long runway and we’re really just getting those brands out there and getting traction,” he said.

Tom Kelso (left) will retire at year’s end and pass the baton to Spencer Cavalier.

A transition is underway for the top post at a Richmond investment banking firm.

Matrix Capital Markets Group will have a changing of the guard at year’s end, with President Tom Kelso to be succeeded by Spencer Cavalier, who’s been the heir apparent for several years.

The change comes as Kelso is ready to retire after 25 years at Matrix, including the last 10 as president.

Cavalier, who’s based in the firm’s Baltimore office, joined Matrix in the late 90s after a stint with Nations Bank to team with Kelso on what was then a two-man group working deals in the energy and convenience retail sectors.

“It was just to the two of us and now we’re the biggest group in the firm with 20 bankers,” said Cavalier. “(Kelso) has given a lot to the firm and been a great leader and built the firm.”

Matrix now has 38 investment bankers in its ranks in offices in Richmond, Baltimore and a new outpost in New York City.

The firm handles mergers and acquisitions, capital raises and valuations for companies in downstream energy, healthcare, and consumer and industrial products sectors.

Matrix is headquartered in the Gateway Plaza building. (BizSense file)

Cavalier said the firm typically closes 15-30 deals a year and has completed 500 transactions since its founding. He said 2021 was a “really big” year but would not disclose revenue specifics. The firm’s deals typically range in value from $20 million to $800 million.

After being groomed for the position for about three years, Cavalier, 52, will continue to be based in Baltimore upon taking the helm. He said that won’t affect Richmond’s status as the firm’s headquarters location. Matrix keeps its home base on the eighth floor of the McGuireWoods-anchored Gateway Plaza building downtown, where it moved last year and where the bulk of its employees are based.

The change in the leadership ranks also includes the hiring of the firm’s first ever chief operating officer. James Munsey recently joined Matrix from Richmond-based Connected Solutions Group.

New COO James Munsey

With Munsey in place to run the day-to-day operational work, Cavalier said he has no intention of stepping away from the deal-making side, in addition to taking on his new president duties.

“Seventy percent of my work will continue to be banking. The rest will be working more with the other groups and helping them with their marketing efforts and transaction issues that come up and helping grow the next generation of leaders in the firm… and just keeping the culture of what we have here intact,” he said.

An important part of that culture is pinned to the fact that Matrix has remained independently owned. Cavalier said it’s a point of pride in investment banking world.

“Most firms like ours stay really small or over time get bought or just fold. We’re very proud this will be our 35th year of being an independent advisory firm,” he said.

Matrix was founded in Richmond in 1988 by Scott Frayser and Jeff Moore. Moore held the president post until retiring from the firm in 2012 to launch his own private equity firm.

Cavalier said continued, but slow growth will be the mantra for Matrix when his tenure begins. He said near-term growth will come from spreading the word about its new healthcare and capital advisory groups, which are ramping up mainly in Baltimore and New York.

“These two new groups have a long runway and we’re really just getting those brands out there and getting traction,” he said.

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