Chris Shepard

Executive Vice President
Head of Corporate Finance
Imperial Capital LLC

Background: Worked as an attorney after receiving his law degree
Education: Bachelor's degree, law degree and M.B.A. from the University of Michigan
Sports: Loves to ski and is trying to get his kids interested
Books: "Like a lot of people in my business, I'm an extremely avid reader. I read a lot of boxing books."


The Business Journal occasionally checks in with Los Angeles executives and asks them to describe their day. This week Chris Shepard of Imperial Capital LLC describes his routine:


I usually wake up at about quarter to 4 in the morning. That's the hard thing about being a trader in Los Angeles even if you're on the West Coast, you have to work on New York time. I'm out the door and headed to work by about 4:15. As the head of corporate finance at Imperial Capital, I have to get to the office early. You eventually get used to the hours, though at one time in my life I would have considered this late at night, not early in the morning. These days I wake up before my alarm most of the time. But being up that early isn't so bad since there's no traffic.


I get into the office a little before 5, and there are already people there. There are about 60 or 70 people in the 5:15 trading meeting each day some in New York and some in Los Angeles, interacting through phone and video. Everyone talks about the securities they'll be trading that day and any other orders of business. The meeting, like the rest of my day, is fast-moving and energetic.


Once that's over I'll head to the gym for about an hour. I spend a good amount of time in the gym it's definitely my stress reliever. I've been doing it for over 20 years and I can still bench close to 405 pounds. I'm 41 now and I can't lift what I used to. I never thought that would be true. I was always told that when I started but I thought I'd never get old.


After that I go back to the office and start the most important part of my day. The investment bankers get in around 8 and we have a meeting with just the investment bankers at 8:30 where we discuss the deals we're currently working on. By this point I've had three hours of caffeine and a workout, so I'm definitely awake.


After the meeting, I'm on the phone. I spend about six to seven hours a day on the phone. Imperial Capital is an investment bank with a focus on below investment-grade debt markets. I co-run the investment banking side, which focuses on small- and middle-market clients. Any one day I could be talking to 15 to 20 different companies of all different types from biotechnology companies to plastics manufacturers. About five or six of those companies will be current engagements and the rest are marketing calls.


The Imperial Capital office is split into two groups: investment banking on one side and sales and trading on the other. With my position I'm involved in almost everything we do. In one of our more high-profile deals we helped finance Hawaiian Airlines out of bankruptcy. We worked with the company's management team and helped raise capital.


There are actually no offices, except for the CFO's. Instead, the office set up like a trading floor. Everyone can hear everyone else's phone conversations. It definitely makes for an energetic work environment. It usually takes new employees about six months to get used to it. We're preparing to move offices, though, so the environment might soon change.


But I'm not always in the office. About six or seven days each month I'm traveling. Last year I traveled well over 100,000 miles. About half of my trips are to New York, but there's no pattern to the other 50 percent. I spend as much time in Milwaukee as I do in Dallas as I do in Seattle. I go to small towns in the middle of the country and while I'm there I tend to live the local flavor. You eat with the management teams at their favorite spots, which is always interesting. Wherever I go I try to find a good place to work out.


Back in the office, things start to slow down around 4 since we're tied to New York. Some people stay until after midnight, but I usually go home between 5 and 6 so I can see my family.


As far as bedtime, my two kids pretty much determine that. I have a very active 5-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter who thinks she's a princess. After I get them to bed, my wife and I usually go to sleep by about 9:30 or 10.


As told to Richard Clough

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