Zimb Johnson

Two years ago, Fairstone acquired Lincolnshire-based Zimb Johnson Bespoke Financial Planning.

Here business principal, Leigh Johnson, talks about the acquisition process and life before and after the sale.

Business highlights – post transaction
Number of advisers & support staff Doubled*
Clients numbers + 14%
Fee income + £100k
Profitability Increased

 

* to provide succession and more adviser support

“For me the biggest positive post-acquisition has been the opportunity to really secure the future of our business,” says Leigh Johnson.

Leigh, explained the company first joined Fairstone’s Downstream Buy Out (DBO) process in August 2015 and was fully acquired by Fairstone just over two years later.

Leigh said: “Fairstone’s unique DBO model first attracted me to the firm as it provided a sensible and pragmatic way to ensure, as best as is possible, that we would like and get on with each other. It is a much more certain method to achieve this, compared to conventional due diligence/purchase, without a “courting” period.

“The terms of the buy out were attractive and fair to both parties with a high probability of the indicative amounts actually being achieved.

Trust

“Perhaps the most important aspect is that I liked all of the directors very much as people and felt I could trust them to act with honesty and integrity from day one; and that has unequivocally been the case.”

Fairstone, one of the UK’s largest Chartered financial planning firms, integrates high quality financial advisory firms through its unique DBO model, which has led to the acquisition of 26 firms since 2011.

Leigh added that the best advice he would give to prospective firms would be to understand that there will be changes, and to embrace them and be adaptable.

He said: “Yes, there were changes, certainly in terms of compliance and report writing etc, but since that was expected and because we were prepared, the integration was not that problematical.

“A shared load has made life for us all somewhat easier, the result of which, is that we have been able to spend more time with each client and this in turn helps us to provide an even better service.

More confident

“We loved our old company but as we move on, we do feel privileged to be part of Fairstone, especially during what is an exciting and changing time for our industry. We feel far more confident, as Fairstone, that we can cope with whatever change the regulator brings in the future and that is a huge comfort for us all.”

Today, Fairstone is a national firm with 48 locations, made up of 345 regulated advisers and 220 operational staff, acting for over 59,000 clients and overseeing £10.8 Billion in client investment assets.

Countrywide, Fairstone is seeing an 11% out performance across its entire portfolio of acquired businesses, which means the firms it is acquiring are delivering more revenue, profits and growth than either their forecasts or buy out agreements are based on.

In great hands

Leigh added: “I am thrilled that after 20 years of running my previous company, we have been able to take clients forward within Fairstone and have secured a highly positive outcome for them. Above all else, that leads me to feel I can retire in due course, in the knowledge that the clients are in great hands for the future.

“The business is in the best shape it has ever been, highly compliant, organised, responsive to client needs and forward looking.”