IVCA Preview: William Chapman of Baker Tilly, Matthew Richards of Ropes & Gray, on the IVCA/NVCA Luncheon on May 19th

May 13, 2015 - One of the highlights of the year is when the Illinois Venture Capital Association (IVCA) joins forces with the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) for a special luncheon and networking get together. On the program for May 19, 2015, the IVCA/NVCA luncheon will feature “A Conversation with Bon French” (Adams Street Partners), moderated by John A. Canning, Jr. (Madison Dearborn Partners).

There will also be a roundtable discussion on “Federal Issues Affecting Venture and Private Equity,’ featuring:

  • Bobby Franklin, NVCA
  • Steve Judge, Private Equity Growth Capital Council
  • Chris Walters, Small Business Investor Alliance
  • Moderated by IVCA Chair Lee M. Mitchell, Thoma Bravo

As in previous years, the sponsors for the event are the accounting and advisory firm Baker Tilly and the law firm of Ropes & Gray .

Baker Tilly is one of the top accounting and advisory firms in the United States – which includes the Venture Capital and Private Equity industries in their range of services – and are part of a network that has 154 firms operating in 133 countries. This is the ninth year in a row that Baker Tilly has sponsored the IVCA/NVCA luncheon. The law firm of Ropes & Gray has a global outreach of 1,100 professionals, whose skills and perspective achieves goals for industries ranging from Automotive & Transportation, Health Care, Private Equity and Technology, Media & Communications, with office locations all over the United States and globally. This is Ropes & Gray’s sixth year of Luncheon sponsorship.

The IVCA reached out to the sponsors of the Luncheon, to preview some of the issues that may arise at the event. Representing Baker Tilly is William “Bill” Chapman, Partner and Managing Director. For Ropes & Gray, Matthew J. Richards, Partner.

IVCA: Since the first quarter has just past, what issues most interest Venture Capital and Private Equity firms at this point in the year, and how does events like the IVCA/NVCA luncheon help to address those issues?

Bill Chapman: In addition to the never-ending issues that private equity faces, like  taxes and regulations, plus the care and feeding of their limited partners and fundraising, it’s about putting money to work. There was a bit of lull in the first quarter, but it’s starting to pick up.

Matthew Richards: Now that 2015 is fully underway, it looks like we’ll be seeing a deal environment that poses a lot of the same challenges we’ve seen in the last couple of years. Financing markets remain attractive, though regulatory pressure on leverage levels is putting some pressure on the ability of sponsors to get deals done. 

Public market valuations remain high, putting pressure on private market valuations. Regulatory pressure remains significant and continues to impact both fund-raising and ongoing operations. The IVCA/NVCA luncheon is a great forum to talk about these and other issues currently on the minds of industry professionals.

IVCA: How do organizations like the IVCA and NVCA best work together, in providing the type of information that is valuable to firms within the association?

Chapman: Certainly the lobbying efforts that they both do, but something I think the IVCA did this year that was fantastic was the public education program regarding private equity, and all the types of institutions and people it touches. That program was counter to all the misconceptions and demonization of the Private Equity community. Of course, all the continuing education is extremely valuable.

Richards: The NVCA has a national perspective, and the IVCA has a very local perspective – and member firms and other industry participants need both to best understand the current landscape facing the Private Equity and Venture Capital industries.

IVCA: What federal issues regarding Venture Capital and Private Equity do you believe the association will most be interested in, during the roundtable discussion at the luncheon, and why?

Chapman: As I already mentioned, I think it’s going to be the ongoing debate on taxation, and how the federal regulations will evolve, as well.

Richards: Taxation and regulation remain the two key legal concerns for the Venture Capital and Private Equity industries. Prospects for any change in the tax laws – around the treatment of carried interest or otherwise – seem dim right now. But the looming presidential election may, at the very least, increase public discussion of tax issues which affect these industries and prime the pump for action in 2016, and beyond. 

Regulation continues to be big source of concern for Venture Capital and Private Equity firms, especially as the SEC and other regulatory bodies continue to focus on the acceptability of long-standing industry practices and key industry drivers of value, like the employment of operating partners.

IVCA: Both Baker Tilly and Ropes & Gray have been long-time sponsors of the IVCA/NVCA luncheon. Why is it important for your firm to represent the ongoing discussion and issues presented there?

Chapman: Baker Tilly believes that it is in our best interest, not only as business owners, but as citizens, that we continue to support the economic development of the region. We firmly believe that Private Equity and Venture Capital are two of the most effective tools to accomplish that goal.

Richards: Ropes & Gray think both the IVCA and the NVCA are incredibly valuable organizations for the Venture Capital and Private Equity communities and – as significant participants in those industries – we feel it’s vitally important to be a part of what they do. We gain a lot from the programs these organizations put on and from the forums they create for leading industry professionals.

IVCA: How do organizations like the IVCA and NVCA best work together, in providing the type of information that is valuable to firms within the association?

Chapman: We’re active with a number of angel investors. The information that we pick up from the IVCA and their functions, we like to share. The roots of our firm are small, fast-growing clients – we’re the twelfth largest accounting and advisory firm in the country now, but we started out in a small office in Wisconsin. We like to share our experiences with other business owners, and that has always been part of our firm’s culture.

Richards: Very important – the IVCA and the NVCA provide leadership for the industries on key legal and governmental issues and, just as importantly, provide an excellent forum for industry professionals to come together and talk shop.

The 2015 IVCA/NVCA Luncheon will take place on May 19th. Click here to register or for more information.