OK, maybe we’re just a tad biased, but our Chief Revenue Officer at Caplinked, Greg Brinson, just had an absolute banger of a LinkedIn post. 

Greg shared what he called 65 Deck Examples from 20 Top Investment Banks, and it’s exactly what it says on the tin: slick, uber-polished, data-rich IB Decks from the likes of BofA, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and so many more, inspiring a barrage of nearly 7K requests for access to these incredibly valuable digital assets. 

And there’s plenty of reason to be inspired. Like Greg points out, we’re entering a transitional period in IB, a place where – according to Dealogic – global deal volume in Q1 2023 is just about half that of what it was this time last year. That’s wild for sure, but we can all wallow in our existential crises, or we buckle up, polish the hell outta those decks, and prep for a better quarter this time around.  

You can, and totally should, take a look at all 65 of those decks handily laid out on Airtable, but we’ve got you covered with some key tl;dr trends, insights, and takeaways. 


Data Talks…

Doesn’t matter if it’s Goldman Sachs, Deutsche, JP Morgan or just about anyone in between, one rock-solid takeaway from virtually all 65 of these decks is that a top-level IB pitch is almost entirely composed of data. Explanations are brief, and introductions and wrap-ups are almost as nonexistent as fluff in any form. Situation overviews and solutions are typically limited to a single page, and outside of that, data points – lots and lots of data points – do the vast majority of the talking.  


…and an Infographic’s Worth a Thousand Words

No one’s saying that pages of implied valuation comparables and 5-year stock price performances aren’t a touch dry (we’re not saying that because we love that stuff). But, they’re never just pages of bullet points presented in text form. The data itself may be clear cut and black and white, but the presentation isn’t. 

Most pages of a creme de la creme IB deck consist of information presented in a dense-but-readable, infographic-like visual format. We’re talking bar graphs, line graphs, and pie charts with crystal-clear color coding so that the info is processed as immediately as possible without over-explanation via text. In their deck, Barclay’s call this barrage of visual data “illustrative examples.”


The Old Format Works

If there’s a tried-and-true, IB deck 101 sort of format, it’s a three-hit combo. You’ve got your market update, your credentials, and then your deal outline. In the examples Greg provides, you’re gonna see that in Bank of America’s deck, JP Morgan’s deck, Lazard’s deck, and many, many more. At the top, they’re not out here trying to make New Coke out of Coca-Cola; they’re perfecting a format that has been proven to work for decades. 


Spin Some Positive Valuation 

As Forbes points out, we’re currently navigating more complex M&A valuations than ever, as growth is up against massive uncertainties around inflation, interest rates, and decreased demand. That makes for more hostile acquisitions, which may be why so many of the most successful banks have chosen to start their decks with reams of positive valuation data. Right off the bat in Citi’s deck, you’ll see “Valuation Has Improved Since 2016,” and they’re far from alone, with many dedicating lots of landscape to valuation.


Design With Intention

For all that time-tested format, here’s something you won’t see in many decks from the top banks: design for the sake of sheer aesthetics. Yes, infographics and visualized data rules, but none of it is, for lack of a better word, design-y. 

Call it no-frills, but these banks aren’t pitching Transformers VIII, they’re pitching deals with real-world implications. If you do use photographic or artistic images, keep them specific to you, meaningful, and totally bespoke – you won’t find a single stock image of a clinical smiling face in any of the 65 decks Greg combed through. 


State Your Solutions

Across the dozens of decks analyzed, all of that juicy data tends to follow a clear throughline. First, it provides a market update, then it makes a case for the bank’s credentials (i.e. why they’re the best choice), then it outlines the deal. 

That last part is key. The deal should be positioned as a solution to the market update (which, nowadays, might be posed as the problem in need of said solution). When you do find a page of text of these best-in-class decks, it’s usually a concise bulleted list explaining the solution that all of that aforementioned data is bolstering.


Wrap Up with a Deal Runway

Here are just a few examples of data types you’ll see positioned right at the end of these outstanding decks:

  • shareholder momentum
  • growth landscapes
  • positive projection summaries
  • compelling valuations compared to historical trading levels
  • encouraging data on transactions that have set a successful precedent. 

You get the idea.

What these banks are doing, essentially, is positioning the last pages of their pitch decks as a runway — a streamlined collection of current and speculative (often analyst-backed) data that positions the proposal as a solution with strictly upward momentum. It saves the best for last, and ends the deck not on a note of hollow hope, but on researched, fact-based optimism. And that’s one part of why the names of these banks alone carry so much cache; a solid runway ultimately helps them stick the landing, again and again. 


Dan is a Dallas-based freelance writer and consultant specializing in tech, media analysis, and lifestyle content. In his decade-plus experience, he’s been fortunate enough to work alongside partners including USA Today, Fortune, Sony Pictures, Samsung, Salon.com, The Seattle Times, and many more. You can find him on LinkedIn


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LinkedIn – Greg Brinson

LinkedIn – 65 Deck Examples from 20 Top Investment Banks

CapLinked University – 65 Deck Examples from 20 Top Investment Banks

Financial Edge – Investment Banking Pitch Book

Acquisition International – 10 Pitch Deck Tips That Will Make Investors Say Yes

Forbes – M&A Investment Banking Insights for 2023