Stephen Tucker is a senior consultant at Foulger Underwood, which advises on mergers and acquisitions and business strategy for professional service firms.
He is the former managing director of The Fry Group, a business he joined in 1995 and led for 10 years. He has also served as a non-executive director on the Nucleus board, and on the Nucleus advisory board. He began his career in 1978 as a tax officer for HM Revenue & Customs in Brighton. Before joining The Fry Group, he previously had roles at Lloyds bank and accountancy firms Kidsons and Mazars.
There are likely to have been times when you have wanted to get something done, only to find yourself frustrated months later and left wondering why it didn't happen.
As managing director of The Fry Group I had nine offices, 160 staff and three different business disciplines to try and make work. Driving even the smallest change through such an organisation was never easy.
All businesses are a collective of human beings coming together to deliver a service or product in a common fashion. It's that human element that can sometimes pose the biggest challenge.
During my tenure as managing director of The Fry Group, we made four acquisitions over 10 years.
Sadly, no one thought to give me the ‘How to acquire a business’ handbook in advance. Perhaps I can save you a little of the inevitable pain with some of the lessons I learned along the way.
Make no mistake: buying an advice business is a serious matter. At the very least you will be risking your investment capital and potentially your firm’s reputation. You will also be committing yourself to a lot of hard work.
Returning to the office recently to sign off on some paperwork a few weeks after retiring, I was met with the inevitable question from our finance director, who is himself set to retire in a few years: “So, how is retirement?”
I have to say, I prefer the term ‘stepping aside’, though whatever you call it, it hasn’t been easy. At the same time, I’ve also stepped down as a non-executive director at Nucleus, ahead of the recent listing on AIM.