What is a 'Rainmaker'

A rainmaker is an individual who brings in large amounts of business to a firm. On Wall Street, a rainmaker would be a broker or financial advisor who brings in several wealthy clients, or a banker who secures many merger and acquisition (M&A) deals or mandates for initial public offerings (IPO). At a law firm, a rainmaker may be a senior partner who captures lucrative legal work through her network of contacts or word-of-mouth. Any salesperson elsewhere — a technology company, for instance — is considered a rainmaker if he or she closes a lot of contracts. As such, they are typically highly compensated. Also, because of their proven ability to generate revenue for one firm, they may be heavily recruited by competing firms and offered significant financial incentives to make the switch.

BREAKING DOWN 'Rainmaker'

Rainmakers have a special quality that makes them productive. Most of the time they are simply extremely skilled at their craft, whether providing investment advice, putting together and executing a merger transaction, sorting through complicated tax issues, demonstrating the value of a product, etc. In some cases, the skills of rainmakers lie mainly in knowing how to work a room, making key connections and schmoozing their way to signed contracts. To the rainmaker's employer it does not matter how it's done (as long as legal and ethical); the firm enjoys the harvest that the rainmaker brings.

Must Keep the Rainmaker Happy

A rainmaker knows her value and will typically expect fair compensation for her services to the firm. But what if she is not receiving what she thinks she is worth? Take an example of a wealth management firm. If the rainmaker leaves a firm and takes her clients, the firm can suffer a significant loss of future revenue, as well as a hit to its reputation that comes with losing a well-known head broker/advisor. Rainmakers often have teams of brokers or advisers who work under them, and these teams may be part of a package deal when a rainmaker changes firms, which would leave a bigger hole at the firm left behind.

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