David Hall, Managing Director, YFM Equity Partners, Managers of British Smaller Companies VCTs.
I started my week on the 5.45 from Wigan to London for three days with our London business. It’s week two since we launched the £30m fundraising for British Smaller Companies (BSC) VCT, so a packed agenda of meeting financial advisers and wealth managers this week. I had a two-hour meeting with the board of BSC where I updated them on the launch and we discussed the fundraising sales and marketing plan. Afterwards I called Vikki in our Manchester office to catch up on calls and a presentation she is preparing for me. Then it was two back-to-back conference calls: one with our lawyers, checking out a structuring point on a potential new investment; the other with the management team at one of our portfolio businesses discussing how we could finance their expansion plans. The day ends with dinner in the Bombay Brasserie near Gloucester Road catching up with Paul Cannings and David Bell, two of my partners on our business.
I started the day with a light breakfast, then I went straight into our London office to finish preparations for meeting a new wealth manager today with Andrew Weatherhead, our VCT Sales Executive. After the meeting Andrew and I had some lunch and caught up on the pipeline of sales meetings. We headed over to the City to meet St James Place. Afterwards I had a call with our PR and agreed a time for an interview with Investors Chronicle who is planning their VCT feature special for early February. Armed with a stack of papers to get through on the train, I went to Milton Keynes to see my team Wigan Athletic beat Milton Keynes Dons 3-1 in a thrilling match.
I caught the train back from Milton Keynes to London for another adviser meeting before catching the train to Manchester. We hosted our annual dinner for our manufacturing contacts, mainly CEOs and Chairmen of our existing and previous portfolio and a few potential new businesses we would like to back. There were some really positive comments about growth prospects, particularly through the export markets where production efficiencies for many businesses are finally beginning to come through. Manufacturing contribution to GDP growth looks to be in good shape and supports our move to invest further in this sector this year. Although YFM Equity Partners invests across a number of sectors, all the team knows my passion for real manufacturing businesses. The chairman of Pressure Technologies is rightly pleased to have just signed a new multi-million deal with a Chinese business.
Last night’s annual dinner was still reverberating this morning. It was a great event with some good food for thought. I read through the briefing from our PR on Investors Chronicle and then had a 15 minute interview with Leonora Walters. PR is a big part of what we do to increase the profile of the business and spread awareness of our VCT products. Although I enjoy reading the press stories we get, I am always a bit nervous that the angle may not be what we would like. I caught up over a sandwich lunch with Deborah Heyes, one of the Investment Directors who is in the late stages of negotiating terms with a vendor on an interesting services business. There are still plenty of good opportunities for deals in the North West. Deborah has known the chairman for 10 years and it looks we will have an exclusive opportunity to do the deal. I promised my wife Judith I would be home on time. It was Tabitha’s parents evening and our first time in the working week for a family dinner.
I finished the week off in our Manchester office. I joined a conference call with HMRC checking out a tax issue with an investment followed by a call with Philip Hare from PwC who is great and untangling some of the jargon and helping us decide what is possible. With the increase in EIS fund structures in the last 12 months, HMRC is back logged with requests for tax clearance from EIS and VCT fund managers. It is one of the less exciting but necessary parts of getting a deal over the line. Paul Cook, our recently appointed Chief Operations Officer sent me his initial review on our operations. Since we became an independent business in September last year, we are looking at how best to use our resources both internally and externally. I picked a couple of nice wines and some chocolates on the way home as we entertained some close friends that evening.
The first priority is to head to our favourite coffee shop in the world; the Roastery at Cedar Farm to spend some time with Judith. With teenage children we are getting some more time to ourselves, but it still has to be jealously guarded. Then my 17 year old son Edward and I went to Wigan Athletic. Edward and I have been travelling to Wigan Athletic for over 10 years. I did double check that Tabitha’s phone was charged before she left as she was heading to Liverpool with friends and drop Jessica (the youngest daughter) at a party. I put the finishing touches to my mother’s 80th birthday party and we also rebooked to ski again at half term. Although I’m not a massive fan of the slopes, the family love it and Judith says it’s one of the few places where I’m not tempted to deal with emails!