DEFINITION of 'Deal Flow'

The rate at which business proposals and investment pitches are being received by financiers such as investment bankers and venture capitalists. Rather than a rigid quantitative measure, the rate of deal flow is somewhat qualitative and is meant to provide an indication of whether business is good or bad. The state of the economy has a significant influence on the level of deal flow. Economic expansion and robust equity markets will usually generate healthy deal flow for most financiers, while a recession and/or sluggish equity markets may generate some deal flow for only the most established players.

BREAKING DOWN 'Deal Flow'

Deal flow can comprise many different types of proposals: venture funding, private placements, syndications, initial public offerings (IPO), mergers and acquisitions. While large investment banks can handle most of these activities, specialist financiers such as venture capitalists and angel investors will generally focus on deal flow only in their area of expertise.

While deal flow can be generated from a number of sources, the proposals that are likely to garner the most attention are the ones from companies or entrepreneurs where a previous investment has been successful, or where there is a solid existing relationship. On the other hand, unsolicited proposals from untried entities are likely to be given short shrift by most established financiers.

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