Mail Manager recently spoke to John Farrugia, CEO of FinnCap Cavendish, leaders in the M&A advisory space who specialise in deals between £20 - £150 million. The M&A advisory firm deals with entrepreneurs who have grown their business and are now looking to exit as well as firms looking to acquire new companies. We learned about his impressive career trajectory, the firm’s impressive growth rate and what other firms wishing to follow in his footsteps can learn.
John started out as an associate, but as an entrepreneur at heart, he always had big visions of where he would go and how he would take the company with him. When he was made partner in 2017, he led the growth of the technology practice before becoming a Managing Partner and running the whole M&A unit. Now the group's CEO, he spoke with Mail Manager about his impressive career trajectory and how he maintains such an outstanding reputation in a competitive market such as financial services.
John could have joined one of the big six accountancy firms and had a stellar career, but that path wasn’t for him. He has actively steered clear of what he calls “big sterile business banks” and opted for making over a firm whose reputation now precedes them and has those big banker types knocking on his door looking for a job. John believes in leading from the front and remaining true to being a good guy, contrasting with the stereotypical big banker attitudes usually associated with M&A.
So what are the top four things that John attributes to his success?
1. Specialise don't generalise
Like many corporate service firms, Cavendish were generalists serving the whole of the market, but to stand out, John knew that the firm needed an edge and created this by becoming more niche in their approach. The firm prioritised understanding clients, their businesses and the markets and used this information to become more sector-focused.
Trying to cover all bases means that it is difficult to do everything, but focusing on the areas you excel in and making that your unique selling point (USP) is where you will not only create real value for your clients but also start to become the recommended specialist in those fields.
2. Your talent is your best resource
Time is money, so John is keen to make the most of it by ensuring that the team works on suitable types of deals and weeding out the wrong ones quickly. They have drastically boosted deal completion rates by putting a process in place where potential deals must go through strict criteria and a deal committee of five partners before approval.
Making the most of your talent and pooling their knowledge can help you make better decisions for the business. Judging from one person's perspective is limiting. It means you may not spot weaknesses and inconsistencies, but using a committee will make it easier to ensure all bases are covered and final decisions are based on fact and remain unbiased.
3. Create a culture that attracts top talent
Culture plays a big part in the company's success, which is something that John has consciously spent time creating. He believes in leading from the front and having transparency whilst still maintaining a sense of fun in a hard-working environment. Staff are encouraged to be inquisitive and thought-provoking in their approach, which has paid off as it is a strong culture that has attracted the interest of potential candidates from the bigger banks.
4. Compliance should be a priority
Due to the nature of the business and the strict policies around data management, compliance is a significant priority for the firm. With the astronomical costs that can occur through disputes and mismanaged data, John is understandably keen to minimise risk wherever possible. The team work from a deal bible and are very strict on record keeping. Every piece of important information is filed and retained in case it should be recalled for an investigation in the future. In the old days, this was a clunky paper-based system, but now the team does everything through email to make it an effortless process.
Your processes around email and document management can make or break your business. In an increasingly digital world, it is essential to ensure that you are reducing risk and using digital tools to help support your staff to do their best work.
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