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    Corporate finance lessons. Lesson one. Forget the red braces

    30 years of successful deal making in corporate finance. That’s quite an achievement. We’re celebrating Andy Parker, one of CP’s leadership team. 30 years of flying the ‘Rebels of Accountancy’ flag.

    We got Andy to sit down with Ollie Macildowie and Sachin Parmin two of the new generation of Corporate Finance.  They talked about the past. And of course, his love of rugby and cycling.

    Here are some golden nuggets from their conversation. They might tempt you to watch the full video. Just 14 minutes long. Well worth a watch.

    What’s changed?

    Andy pointed out that one big change he’s seen over the past 30 years in the deal making world is simply how people are. Over are the days of the ‘suited and booted’ uniform. Long gone are the shirt, tie and red braces. The very fact that their conversation takes place sat on settees in casual clothes highlights the change in the office environment.

    Technology is another big change. Back when Andy started out there was no internet. We’re talking pre-computer. No excel spreadsheets or google. Research had to be done the old-fashioned way. Physical data rooms filed with box files and print outs of business records. It was all much more time consuming. Analysis and modelling for deals were driven by broader assumptions and didn’t benefit from the data driven (sometimes spurious) accuracy we see today. Interestingly, in Andy’s view the actual timetabling of deals hasn’t changed much. Though people tended to be a little more intuitive on deals, looking for the big picture, because access to information wasn’t as readily available as it is today.

    Favourite decade?

    Ollie and Sachin were interested to know which decade was Andy’s favourite. The 90s. Work hard. Play hard. Major developments over the past 20 years have made work different – maybe a little less spontaneous.

    The Tsunami of change the internet brought at the end of 90s had a significant impact.

    A positive difference is that there’s no longer a ‘making it up as you go along’ approach. Deal making and corporate finance has become much more sophisticated. It’s now data and process driven. It relies less on the individual “rain-maker” forcing things through by dint of personality. Though business relationships still matter. People deal with people.

    The bursting of the dot.com bubble at the start of this millennium had a big impact on the corporate finance world. More recently since the global financial crisis, low interest rates across the developed world have cause cash to be poured into private equity, with investors seeking better returns. The mergers and acquisition markets have been stimulated in our part of the economy, the mid-market. There are more players in the market with lots of private equity investors competing with strategic buyers and each other.

    Even after 30 years in the sector Andy still gets that buzz. Learning new things all the time. Working with entrepreneurs. There might be similar situations but every deal is different.

    The constants

    Management. Management. Management. It’s fundamental. And it’s here to stay. The fundamentals of what makes a good and attractive business haven’t changed. It’s all about management. The sectors which continue to be attractive are frequently subject to regulatory change and demographic change – which creates opportunity. Healthcare has been a growth market decade after decade: people are living longer needing more care, more medication and devices to help them. Business services (still the dominant part of the UK economy), particularly where tech-enabled, remain attractive for deal-making. Technology, whether hardware, software or services is always in demand across deal markets as it facilitates or drives change in the economy.

    A team of all shapes and sizes

    It’s no secret that Andy is passionate about sport. He completed the 21 gruelling stages and 3,470km of the Tour de France 2021 a week ahead of the professionals.

    Andy believes rugby is the ultimate team sport. Rugby, like dealmaking, is a whole team business.  As Andy says “Teamwork is central. Everyone has got a role. Everyone needs to play their role. If everyone plays to their best, then the team works. Every successful deal needs people to be doing different things to the best of their ability.”

    Good rugby teams have great leaders who stand up and lead in times of difficulty and that’s the same for deals.

    Know your client

    A final piece of advice from Andy. His advice to clients. Be honest with yourself and with us about your real objectives. Everyone needs to be on the same page. There are twists and turns in deals. We need to focus on what is really important to the client. For those starting out in Corporate Finance Andy’s final golden nugget is have integrity. Do what you say you’re going to do. Keep your promise. Don’t go after short term wins. Trust is key.

    Here’s to the next 30 years in Corporate Finance for Ollie and Sachin.

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