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IFL: A start-up with high ambitions

IFL is a new player with a bold mission: to become a full-service investment bank not a purveyor of niche products.

Without ambition, Wall Street would be nothing. Many people are fighting their way up the ranks of the large investment banks; quite a few more have left them entirely to set up small boutiques, in the hope of making a lot of money by providing specialist services. Roberto Mendoza and Peter Hancock, however, both highly successful executives at the pre-merger JP Morgan, have decided to go further, to set up a fully fledged investment bank called Integrated Finance Ltd (IFL). The idea, according to a friend of the pair, is to create a new player in the banking industry, a shop roughly the size of Lazard.

In fact, IFL has ambitions even beyond this. It's looking to go public in as little as three years. Within five or six years, it hopes to have a stand-alone single-A credit rating, which it can leverage to take on substantial risk. So IFL is not your standard advisory boutique: its founders are going to compete head to head with the big guys.

IFL is actually plan B for Mendoza, Hancock and their partner Robert Merton, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who came famously unstuck at Long Term Capital Management. Plan A was to hit the ground running with a large institution that had already been built up over many years - General Re Financial Products, a firm that its owner, Warren Buffett, was quite happy to see go to rocket-scientists such as Hancock and Merton.

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