A 28-year financial industry veteran of Fortune 500 and publicly traded companies spanning from aerospace to telecommunications to energy, from P&W to UTC to Siemens, Jennifer Arsenault believes that success comes with authenticity—and as managing partner of Viper Equity Partners, she’s the very embodiment of the power in this philosophy that has guided her entire career. It’s this same ideal that underlies her work with the hundreds of clients that she’s assisted with since joining Viper in 2017 in a role that focuses on client packaging, practice underwriting, and buyer inquiries, all while managing a staff. In her words: “I bring dream outcomes to reality by working closely with our doctor clients.” It is this passion that drives her every day—and has contributed to the lightning-fast growth of Viper.
Coined the “Ritz Carlton of investment banking,” Viper Equity Partners is a leading M&A investment firm offering full-service, seller-side support for doctors looking to partner with larger platforms or private partnerships. Founded in 2009 in Palm Beach, Florida, the company serves clients across the U.S., with a focus on dentistry, dermatology, and plastic surgery, and an eye on new verticals within the medical space. Named among the Fastest Growing Companies of 2020 at the 10th Annual Best in Biz Awards, Viper has enjoyed significant growth in its deal inventory, which now exceeds $700 million, with the goal of additional closed deals in excess of $250 million by the end of 2021. Jennifer recently spoke with The Top 100 Magazine about Viper, her work, and her philosophy of authenticity.
Let’s start with your current role and what attracted you to Viper.
In 2017, I made a huge jump from a large corporate environment to a specialized M&A investment banking platform when Viper recruited me to grow the firm to its current flourishing state. I was immediately attracted to assisting lucrative closing transactions for hard-working doctors in contrast to the enrichment of boards of directors and shareholders of large companies. My role allows for turning dreams into reality by offering full support for doctors who have little experience in M&A. Although we’re on the sell side, buyers love to work with us because we make their jobs so much easier. We collaborate with doctors and provide rigorous and sound financial assessments of their practices, including solid EBITDA calculations. My division of the firm offers thorough underwriting and packaging to facilitate value proposals that often pave the way for expedited offer presentations. For me, it’s all about the human aspect. I’ve always wanted to make a positive change, and now I’m using my skills to do just that. I get tremendous fulfillment from my work with health care clients, and I feel so fortunate and blessed to be where I am today.
To what do you attribute Viper’s lightning-fast growth?
I think the secret to our success has been our ability to establish trust quickly and to remain relationship-focused on both ends of the transaction. We provide full-service support to our clients and foster excellent relationships within the industry. Since our clients specialize in health care, they’re like fish out of water when it comes to M&A and equity transactions, so we are their advocates—bringing them all the way from packaging to the closing table. In addition, we do most of the homework for buyers who are evaluating these practices, by offering underwriting and packaging services. Overall, our goal is to bring them to a swift, efficient, and lucrative closing.
Have you seen an increase in M&A activity from medical practices and doctors as a result of the COVID pandemic?
Yes, we have. When a lot of companies were forced to shut down, we remained open and active with no slow-down in buyer appetite. Many doctors evaluated their situations and realized how much easier it would be to weather storms like COVID if they were partnered with larger platforms. Securing their futures financially, protecting their businesses, and taking care of their patients were likely brought to the forefronts of their minds as they seek to protect their empires. Also, if they’re considering an exit strategy, partnering with a larger organization gives them peace of mind and, many times, a far more lucrative and elegant segue into the next chapter of their lives.
How does your unique perspective, experience, and financial acumen outside of M&A benefit your clients?
My previous roles—budgeting, forecasting, financial planning, and analysis—placed emphasis on both internal and external reporting. I was accustomed to communicating internally, messaging our board of directors for quarterly shareholder meetings, determining how we were performing compared to our financial targets, and then tweaking our strategy to improve financials or to better align our strategy with our goals. I crossed over into a lot of different areas throughout my career in finance, but the M&A space fits so much better with my personality. I’m not the typical “finance” person because I love to interact with people, and this role allows me to do just that. I can help clients reach their goals rather than just focusing on numbers.
You place a tremendous amount of importance on authenticity. Why is this important to you?
I firmly believe that genuine strength and power comes from the ability to be authentic in your daily life—whether at home with your family, friends, and community, or at work with your coworkers, clients, and partners. As a woman, embracing the fact that I have a different approach from others has also been incredibly empowering, and my clients can feel that, too. One of the reasons my partner, who is male, and I work so well together is because we have different perspectives and approaches, and this yin and yang serves our clients well. Overall, exhibiting a strong emotional quotient (EQ) has benefitted me greatly—particularly in the world of M&A, where transaction values are high and so are emotions.
What advice would you give to young women entering the field of finance?
I’m incredibly fortunate to be part of a company that gives fantastic opportunities to all, regardless of gender. As a woman, it’s incredibly fulfilling to reach the highest levels of leadership in a flourishing firm. Viper is a tremendous place to work because we value the contributions of everyone and recognize the power of multiple perspectives and diversity. If I could give young women, or, really, anyone, a single piece of advice, it would be to understand that power and strength come in many forms: embrace your unique perspective; be true to yourself; and don’t feel the need to change who you are. At the end of the day, that’s really what empowerment is all about.
Jennifer holds a BS in finance from Bentley University and an MBA from the University of Miami.
Viper Equity Partners
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