Firsts in FinTech with Betsy Cohen - Commerce Conversations

Betsy Cohen sits down with Dan Rosen, Founder of Commerce Ventures to discuss her career spanning law, banking, and investing on Commerce Conversations.

Episode Summary

Betsy Cohen is a pioneer in FinTech, having chartered her own banks and led one of the first financial institutions to pioneer the sponsor bank model. After capitalizing on SPAC excitement in the past few years Betsy and Cohen Circle are focused on investing at early stages. Dan Rosen of Commerce Ventures and Betsy dive into her personal journey and look forward to what’s to come.

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Highlights from the Conversation

LSE Focal Point Podcast: A Conversation with Daniel Cohen

The Focal Point Podcast is the official podcast of the LSESU Business and Investment Group.

In this epsiode, Co-Founder of Cohen Circle and Chairman of Cohen & Company Asset Management, Daniel Cohen, chats about the early opportunities he saw in SPACs and what they bring to financing that traditional IPOs do not. He also shares his outlook on the SPAC field for 2023 following a decline in transaction volume and investment performance in 2022, and how FinTech SPACs can fulfill investor demands.

Highlights from Daniel's conversation

On Being Opportunistic

You should be opportunistic about the things that you know about, and then when you develop expertise, you really use that in whatever way you can to maximize your opportunities to again develop more expertise.

On Building a Strong Team

The world is constantly changing. So you both have to add new talent in terms of investing and at the same time, keep a lot of the core expertise that you already have. Whatever success we may have achieved in management investing, it's really by being willing to trust people that we delegate to and allowing people to take on their own independent responsibilities.

On What it's Like Working with his Legendary Mother, Betsy Cohen

We're both very collaborative and creative and are willing to take measured risks. You also get to go to lunch with your mother much more often than you would, otherwise. That's a big plus.

On How he Got into SPACs

We had a lot of experience, Betsy and I, in running public companies. She had started off running a public company in in the 1980s. I had been involved in my first public company with Resource America in the 1990s. I had been the founder and CEO of a number of REITs and other vehicles as well as Cohen and Company. So we were comfortable with the public markets and we thought the opportunity was really there.

On His Advice for New Grads

LSE produces some of the leading financiers in the world and some of the leading bankers in the world. [New grads] have to think about whether this is really what they want to do. Because you're gonna be doing it for a long time, so you really should enjoy it. The second thing I'd say that I've learned from working with my mother for a long time, is you always constantly have to be learning at every stage of your career.

Amanda Abrams on FinTech Leaders: The Future of SPACs and Public Markets

Miguel Armaza sits down with Amanda Abrams, CEO of Cohen Circle, a fintech focused investment platform and one of the pioneers and most active firms behind several fintech SPACs since 2015.

This article is part of Fintech Leaders, a newsletter with over 37,000 dreamers, entrepreneurs, investors, and students of financial services. I invite you to share and sign up here!

Amanda Abrams
Cohen Circle CEO, Amanda Abrams

My guest today is Amanda Abrams, CEO of Cohen Circle, a fintech-focused investment firm and one of the pioneers and most active firms behind several fintech SPACs since 2015. Some of their SPAC transactions, include CardConnect, Payoneer, Paya, and Perella Weinberg Partners.

If filing 12 SPACs gets you the title of SPAC King, then Amanda and Cohen Circle Co-Founder, Betsy Cohen, are definitely SPAC Queens with a total of 11 SPACs.

In this episode, we discuss:

The SPAC process and why Amanda suggests CEOs should still consider this route to go public.

“There's a broader investor pool. Sponsors focused in a SPAC transaction are bringing in strategic investors, leveraging commercial relationships, who are often providing a portion of the financing themselves. Enough to anchor a transaction or provide some traction in the market. And I think that's an advantage that you can't really use in an IPO.”

The SPAC Boom of 2020/2021. What drove the mania and some of the mistakes that were made?

“There was a convergence of factors… many of these [2020] transactions were just wildly successful out of the gate and I think a lot of people saw SPACs as this really exciting and easy way to make quick money. So you had celebrities launching SPACs and everyone and their mother was launching a SPAC… now, we backtracked a bit, we have a really saturated market and probably too many SPACs out there.”

Key differences between a good SPAC process vs a bad one. And how do we know if a company is ready to go public?

“We spend a significant amount of time with the company's finance team and their CFO… We not only evaluate the companies that we're looking at, but we partner with them so that in the months leading up to that SPAC transaction, we can help them overcome any hurdles that they have.”

Lessons from working with dozens of CEOs and boards, the future of fintech… and a lot more!

“Decision-making ability is one [quality] that that comes to mind. I see it pretty consistently amongst people that I would think of as great leaders. These people, they're consistently making decisions early and quickly. They show conviction in the decisions they make, even if, perhaps, they don't have 100% conviction themselves or they don't have perfect information.”

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