By Andrew Hilliard, Managing Director
2020 will go down in history as the year the coronavirus wreaked havoc to our world. Nothing in any of our lifetimes has had such a profound impact on our economy, political infrastructure and public health.
How 2020 changed recruitment. It also happens to be our tenth year of trading; a year of celebration for all that we have achieved amongst these strange times. It’s important to reflect on our achievements as a company. As public practice specialists, and arguably the leading national consultancy within this space. We have considerable knowledge and understanding of accountancy practices. With deep rooted relationships with partners up and down the UK forged over these 10 years.
Coupled with vast experience in M&A transactions, AJ Chambers is uniquely placed within the UK market to assist accountancy practice owners identifying and locating acquisition targets in line with their growth strategy, in addition to assisting practice owners secure the right opportunity for their overall exit strategy.
The mergers and acquisitions market has seen a huge amount of change in the profession. As the economy has sought to recover from the last recession. Now as the pandemic has hit, the M&A market has also changed with practice owners being inundated with client requests. In amongst the malaise of changing government policy, grants, and furlough schemes and so on.
Added to this complexity, competition has grown and client needs have changed, technology advanced, and so the market has altered course with industry consolidations becoming the norm, while practices and partnerships have been bought out by ambitious young and technologically able firms. Meanwhile the revenue has been pushing from behind, forcing reluctant partners, firms and SMEs into the twenty-first century with the rolling out of cloud accounting, MTD rulings and the generalised accelerated sea change to the implementation of remote working practices due to the pandemic.
James Gosling, our M&A specialist at AJ Chambers says of the market space now:
“The M&A market in general, but specifically in the accountancy practice sector remains buoyant. Indeed, in times of uncertainty, M&A activity remained busy and in general a spike in activity was witnessed. This is due to many factors; businesses that were in a growth pattern must look to pursue and continue with growth plans by acquisition, albeit following a slightly moderated or refined growth plan.
Conversely, owners and principals of accountancy practices will be rethinking their retirement plans. With those whom were looking at exit seven to 10 years down the road, are now bringing those plans forward. Due to feelings of not having the energy to navigate through the potentially choppy waters ahead. Other practice owners may well seek to strengthen their business or offering, by merging with, or selling to a larger organisation with wider and established infrastructure to secure the future of their business.
Concerning deal structure, we have seen a move away from just utilising the traditional multiple of GRF model. With consideration split over three years. There has been an injection of creativity and adoption of M&A models seen throughout other sectors, which we here at AJ Chambers welcome and have been able to champion, implement and advise on in relation to the transactions we have had involvement in.
I have over 10 years’ experience in M&A transactions in various sectors, from professional sports teams, intellectual property sales, such as music publishing catalogues, and more general trading companies such as accountancy practices. This experience allows us to add additional value to our clients. Ensuring a knowledgeable and pragmatic approach to the new landscape of M&A within the accountancy practice arena. Evidencing the pivotal role we have to play as a trusted advisor for our clients looking to acquire or sell. “
Despite the continued disruption caused by the coronavirus, there is still an appetite for acquisition. For exiting or retiring partners we are keenly aware that the succession of your members’ practices is one of the most important decisions they will ever make, and must be handled as such.
Our consultative and expert approach is what sets us apart from our competitors. We will work with firms to secure the right opportunity for the overall exit strategy for your members businesses. We have been over the course of our 10 year tenure a trusted advisor to our clients. Adding value on many components of an M&A transaction and journey. Ensuring professionalism and correct business etiquette and process is followed at all times.