Our advice to anyone thinking about their exit strategy would be to think of the reasons why you want to sell the business, do your due diligence and don’t just focus on the money. Make sure the acquirer will treat yourself, your staff and clients the way you would want to be treated. AFH have been fair and transparent. This is a two-way street for both sides.
HTH Group Ltd had three main Executive Directors and three advisers who were minority shareholders. HTH was the parent company of Thomas Heald Ltd, the main advisory business and Thomas Heald Solutions Ltd which historically bought existing books of clients.
We weren’t really looking to sell the business, but as we were all approaching 60, we had started to discuss our futures and retirement. As a close-knit team we felt that a sale would suit the business best, as we wished to step away from the company at the same time in the future.
Once that decision was made. we were curious to know the value of the business with our unique structure of self-employed advisers. We had a lot of offers that didn’t sit right with us with silly valuations from leveraged businesses carrying too much debt. These options were dismissed, as first and foremost, our thought process was to find a home that was right for our staff, advisers and clients, where we knew they would all be looked after in the future. If you’re going to sell your business, you need to be able to look the purchaser in the eye and know that you can trust them.
From our first meeting, we felt that we could trust Alan Hudson and his team and were encouraged that the company ticked a lot of the boxes we were looking for, no debt, good compliance processes and a very similar view to financial services that we had. The AFH Investment propositions and in-house platform mirrored our own unique inhouse proposition, albeit on a larger scale.
Having spent out careers building a business and creating something that you feel passionately about, it is very difficult to find someone to entrust to look after your staff, your clients, and your fellow advisers. However, at some point, you reach a time where logic dictates that in order to capitalise on all of that hard work and ensure your business can continue to grow and thrive, you realise that merging the business into a larger entity makes sense. We consider that we are very fortunate that we chose AFH Group.
There is no timeline to retirement for us and we have all found it difficult to adjust to having more time and not running a business. Our advice to anyone looking to retire or sell out, is to think about what you are going to do with your time and whilst my work life balance is much better, there is only so much golf you can play and having spare time comes as a shock to the system!
AFH are a forward thinking and innovative business, built on solid foundation of honesty, integrity and straight talking. Alan still likes to seal a deal with a handshake and has been fair throughout our time with them.
There has been no mad dash to move clients over to the AFH proposition and each step of the journey has been thought-through and considered, before moving forward. All our stakeholders have been well looked after and we can now rest easy in the knowledge that, for us, we can continue to look after our personal clients whilst AFH take care of the bigger picture.