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WHY do we do what we do?

A few months ago, I joined the RSP team.

Recently I was asked “Why do you do what you do? Why are you focusing on the small TIC companies? Why are you only working with the sellers and not the buyers?”

It was not a potential client who asked, it was someone who has known me for far too many years.

Now, I am used to be being asked “What Exactly Do You Do?” and I’ve become pretty adept at my elevator pitch that describes who we are – “We are a boutique M&A advisory firm dedicated to supporting and allying with SMEs in the TIC & A sector who are considering their exit options, possess limited resources and whose value creation potential has yet to be fully realized”.

I can describe that most often potential clients involve us when they are looking to prepare an exit strategy, maximize their business value, or just to understand their options. I can explain the breadth of capabilities that Red Swan Partners has.

But “Why”? – that was the question.

One way to answer is to tell part of my story.

I have been involved with buying companies when I worked with a multinational, I have tried (and failed) to buy bits of a multinational, I have been part of a fast-growing company whose growth was predominantly acquisition driven; I was involved with the integration process and in the subsequent sale and splitting of that company; I am currently advising an accountancy partnership whether to buy additions or sell their company; and there are many more examples!

Many insights can be drawn from this experience. One of the key ones that seem to apply to them all, is that there is often no real balance between the buyer and the seller of a small company. Indeed, the playing field is often slanted in the favour of one party. Frequently (though not invariably) it is slanted in the favour of the bigger company, the one with deeper pockets, the one who has done it before, the one with larger teams.

How does this help explain “Why”?

Essentially, I do not think that a slanted playing field is fair. None of us at Red Swan Partners think it’s fair. There should not be a built-in advantage to one side. It never felt right for me to take unfair advantage when it was slanted towards my direction. It felt even worse when it was slanted against me!!

This is the main reason why I do what I do. It’s why Red Swan’s partners do what we do. We want to help ensure that the sellers get what they deserve and what they want. whether its’s a comfortable retirement or a dream house or a better education for their children or grandchildren.

We only have one key interest and that is optimizing the position for the seller. It is simple and unequivocal.

There are many other reasons we believe in fairness. It is fair that employees of a company that is sold are treated properly and integrated into the buyer’s company; it is fair that even while we help optimize a valuation, we do so in a fully transparent manner. It is fair that we carefully select a motivated buyer. It is fair that we do not increase a valuation by hiding information, but we help increase a valuation by fixing problems and making tangible genuine improvements to a business. To do any of these elements differently would not be fair to either party.

If you have read this far, you will have seen the word “fair” used frequently. But no apologies for that are needed. Fairness underlies so much of what we do and so much of what we believe.

Doing all we can to create a fairer situation for all, really is a key reason why Red Swan Partners do what we do.

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