It aims to combat the risks associated with “putting details out there, speaking to people, rolling out the red carpet to various buyers” when selling a business.
Speaking to economia, Hagues revealed his motivations for setting up the website. “I think there’s a lot of fear and potential angst that’s associated with setting up a business. This is designed to smooth that over, to make it easy and simple to get a value on your business, and then enable the seller to put themselves in control.”
Hagues’ experience with mergers and acquisitions offers him an insight into these problems; beginning in recruitment, Hagues first moved into financial business brokering following the recession of 2008. Retiring Accountant, formed in 2012, marked a similar move into accountancy.
Feebuyer is the next step, offering valuations of accountancy firms’ client books and fee blocks. “Some accountants we’ve seen are looking at upgrading the quality of their client base, or have clients which are not part of the client group they’re aiming for”, says Hagues.
“This gives an opportunity to sell some of those off and get a fair price, or reposition them with another client who’s better suited for them”. Businesspeople looking to leave the industry altogether can “keep an up to date tab on the market”, and assess the impact of changes they make “on the actual value at the end of the day”.
Despite his background in mergers and acquisitions, Hagues has considerable experience with business valuation. He co-founded Trailbuyer.co.uk in 2011, providing online valuations to IFA businesses looking to sell.
“Feebuyer”, Hagues explains, “is really the next stage of Retiring Accountants’ development towards the accountancy sector”. Feebuyer retains Retiring Accountants’ emphasis on the mergers and acquisitions market, but its “network of gilded buyers who have agreed to monitor valuations it puts out” is a leap forward.
Adaptation and innovation are central to Feebuyer. As Hagues explains, “As the market goes up and down we’ll be altering the valuation engine”. This goes beyond looking at factors like geographical location and recurring fees. “We’ll be tweaking it all the time to get it more in line with the actual reality of what things are selling for.”
Hagues notes this should also enhance understanding within the accountancy industry. “It enables us to get a really good feel for some of the esoteric information that’s out there in the accountancy marketplace, such as the average case size for various work or the average age for various clients”.
Looking ahead, Hagues sees recruitment as “the final piece in the jigsaw” of his interest in accountancy. Hagues, going back to his roots, suggests solving recruitment problems is vital in the mergers and acquisitions industry, “when somebody buys something the boss doesn’t always like the new staff, and the staff don’t always like the new boss. In addition to that, if our clients are buying lots of fee blocks they eventually need some staff to look after it”. Hagues argues the combination of business brokering, valuation and recruitment offers a “unique perspective on an industry”- an industry he isn’t finished with yet.