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Correspondent&#39s week

Last week, Money Marketing carried the front-page news that my sister Helen (Bates MD) and I have sold 33 per cent of the company to Asset Strategies and the editor wants me to talk about the run-up to the deal.

We have actually been positioning ourselves for this deal for the best part of two years so it does not feel strange to no longer be the sole owners of the business we founded in 1993. We have been talking to Asset Strategies CEO Sean Ewing for about 18 months, during which time we have received a number of approaches, mainly from companies looking to acquire us outright.

However, it was about finding the right deal for our staff and growing body of advisers as well as for us as shareholders. Our goal has always been to grow the Bates name into a recognised and trusted brand, with a significant value that can be shared with the people who help build it.

With Asset Strategies, we found a deal that brought to the table not only cash but also people who shared our entrepreneurial spirit and with skills that we didn&#39t have, which I firmly believe means we can now play a stronger game.

The one thing I have learned through this recent transaction is that nothing happens as you expect.

On Monday when we meet our lawyers, we anticipate this to be the final run through of the documentation but, in fact, it is two days and three meetings later when we do finally agree the seemingly never ending list of points. And, of course, the professional fees are clocking up at a rate of knots. You soon realise that an IFA&#39s remuneration is meagre compared with the professionals working in the legal and corporate finance sectors. These guys are important in structuring the right deal but I have learned to sit down and take a deep breath before the subject of fees is discussed.

On Tuesday, I meet with our communications team and we discuss the strategy for making the announcement.

Wednesday morning is spent working with Jonathan Gains, Bates commercial director, on the internal announcement, which will take place on Friday. This is very important because it is vital that we get everyone to “buy in”to the new structure. The inward investment not only means that the business is more secure but also that we can now invest in robust, state-of-the-art systems that will mean our business is scaleable.

Our weekly management meeting takes place on Thursday and, as ever, the agenda is full. We have already been working with Sean Ewing in an open manner for some time and so when we hear that the exchange has taken place, it just feels like business as usual.

I know I will enjoy working with Sean because, like me, he is passionate about business and the challenge of building a significant modern financial services business.

We are both excited by the approaches we have received from other IFA firms who are looking to join a quality brand and we hope that the announcement will make us an even more attractive company to talk to.

Friday&#39s announcement to the whole company goes down well, which really does matter a great deal to Helen and me. Everyone is glad that we have not just taken insurance company money and one adviser thanks me for not “selling them down the river”.

Perhaps I could now be sitting on a beach somewhere, gin and tonic in hand, watching the sunset but somehow that does not seem anything like as exciting as the opportunity ahead so I am glad to be sticking around.

Graham Bates is chief executive officer of Bates Investment Services


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