William Blair adds to fledgling secondary advisory team

The boutique investment bank is bringing on executives from M2O and Lazard to work alongside secondaries advisory head Mike Custar.

William Blair has begun building out its secondaries advisory business, weeks after Secondaries Investor reported it was entering the space.

The boutique investment bank has hired Quinn Kolberg as a director responsible for GP-led deals, according to his LinkedIn profile. Kolberg joins from placement agent and adviser M2O Private Fund Advisors, where he spent nearly eight years.

Secondaries Investor reported in early April that Mike Custar, the head of secondaries at M2O, was to join William Blair to lead its new GP-led-focused secondaries advisory business. Custar was previously a managing director in the Private Funds Group of Credit Suisse.

Gage Alpert, currently a vice-president with Lazard, is also lined up to join Custar’s team, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Alpert and Lazard did not respond to requests for comment.

Kolberg ranked 11th in Secondaries Investor‘s 2021 Next Gen Leaders ranking of the most promising people in the industry under the age of 36, with peers praising his “no drama” approach to problem solving and his willingness to get “deeper in the weeds” on deals than other advisers.

The secondaries advisory mid-market has become increasingly crowded over the past 18 months. Baird and Lincoln International have launched units, while Piper Sandler and Solomon Partners are also understood to be exploring a way in.

Many investment banks are entering the market to ensure they don’t lose M&A work, as sponsors favour banks that can offer a full suite of exit options, sources told affiliate title Buyouts.

“They don’t want to lose the mandate,” said one secondaries buyer. “We’ll see if any of these [shops] buy a business or build a whole private markets team including secondaries and primaries, which means they actually want to compete” with the bigger secondaries advisers.

William Blair did not wish to comment.