Earlier today Peter Nachtwey announced that he was leaving his position as chief financial officer at PE powerhouse Carlyle Group to join Legg Mason, the Baltimore-based investment firm. Before Carlyle, Nachtwey served in various leadership positions at Deloitte and has been a CPA in Maryland since 1982. We caught up with Nachtwey to discuss his plans for the company and his career path from his postgrad days at Deloitte predecessor Touche Ross.
FINS: You joined Carlyle in 2007. How did you decide to make the jump to Legg Mason?
Peter Nachtwey: Carlyle is a great firm but Legg Mason approached me a number of months ago about possibly coming on board with them. I was fascinated by the opportunity, given the quality of the firm's brand name and how it came through in the financial crash. Not many firms can say they've got a century-long track record.
FINS: Can you talk about some of your plans?
PN: The streamlining of co-restructuring and driving that home over the course of the next year. It should be a significant value-adder for the shareholders. Also, organic growth -- we want to attract new capital. There's a historic tide shifting for big institutions that are making it back into the market after the crisis.
There's also a growth opportunity. We want to attract the best-in-class portfolio managers. That's where Legg Mason made its name in the last 10 years. I think what's happened now with the dislocation from the financial crisis and all of the regulation is you have big institutions looking to reposition. Individual portfolio managers looking for a home and looking to be part of a larger organization to grow their own.
FINS: Can you talk specific numbers, like how many you'd like to bring on?
PN: Not really. Each one is different -- depends on the complexity and size. There isn't a specific target but our main litmus test is best-in-class.
FINS: Do you think your move will affect plans for Carlyle's IPO?
PN: It's a great firm. It's gone a record saying there's no imminent plan to go public anyway. I think they'll be fine.
FINS: An interim replacement has been chosen. Did you suggest any ideas for a more-permanent successor?
PN: I've given the founders some, but I'm confident they'll bring on a person who will do a great job.
FINS: Let's talk about your career path. You did your undergrad degree in accounting.
PN: I joined Deloitte's predecessor called Touche Ross in 1978. I spent three years there in the Washington office. Then I worked for a defense contactor in Greece. I decided to come back and rejoined in Cleveland. I made partner in 1988 and moved to New York in 1996 to head up the investment management practice for Deloitte in the Northeast.
FINS: When you first started out, what practice area were you in?
PN: I was on the audit side for 14 years and was then asked to head up a real estate consulting business. Once I got into the consulting side on real estate, that led to more general consulting, and finally the financial advisory side.
FINS: How hard was it to transition between practice areas?
PN: Challenging, but the firm was pretty nurturing when someone switched areas.
FINS: What was behind your decision to jump from Deloitte to Carlyle in 2007?
PN: I had been on the advisory side of the world for 30 years. Most of the work large accounting firms do is support the CFOs. One of my last projects at Deloitte was help Blackstone go public. I wanted to do what CFOs did instead of advising them.
FINS: Did you always have an eye toward becoming a CFO, or did it just fall into place?
PN: It kind of fell into place. Generally what I've seen in successful careers is you get to the top of one ladder and you look around for some other ladders to jump onto. So long as you've got your eye out for opportunity and you can take some personal risk you end up in interesting places.
FINS: What would you tell someone who is at a Big Four firm and wants to transition to corporate finance?
PN: It's a great place to get diverse sets of experiences. After that it's about being intellectually curious and asking yourself, "what else can I learn?"
FINS: You've gone from audit to consulting to investment management. Is there anything else you'd still like to do?
PN: I usually assume that it's going to take three to five years to learn the job, meet all the people, figure out how to be successful and make all the other people around me successful. I just turned 55 and I'm hoping to have two more five-year spans, so if you're around in five years, I'll let you know.