By Alistair Brew, Investor at BGF
I have been working with growing businesses for nearly 15 years and so I am aware of the importance to entrepreneurs of confidence and stability. We ask them to take risks in order to create jobs, wealth and prosperity. We owe them a steady platform from which to take these risks.
No-one knows how the remainder of 2016 will evolve. For many businesses, plans will change irrevocably and there is no doubt that the next few days, weeks, months will be a turbulent time
But for now, this is the new normal and growing businesses need – more than ever before – the capital buffers with which to continue to pursue growth.
I cannot know for certain how the wider investment community will react to Brexit. What has happened is unprecedented. My hope is that capital will continue to flow as it has been doing for the past two to three years in particular.
What I can talk about, and what my colleagues in the different areas of the UK are talking about, is how BGF plans to move forward during the coming weeks. Over the past five years, we have become the most active investor of growth capital in small and mid-sized companies – we have no plans to pause, or to slow down.
With that in mind, there are three things that we want ambitious businesses to know.
First, BGF is a long term investor and we are aware of the need to demonstrate this. The currency and stock markets may continue to gyrate, but they are first and foremost an indicator of current sentiment. BGF will keep thinking about what the businesses we back can do over five to ten years, not five to ten hours.
Second, we retain our deep rooted belief that the UK is still the most entrepreneurial country in Europe. The fundamentals that make this country so attractive for growing businesses have not suddenly disappeared. BGF will not put the brakes on. We will keep looking for Britain’s most ambitious and promising businesses – and there is no better demonstration of this than the fact that BGF has announced 14 investments since the Referendum vote.
Finally, we know that the critical issues of access to capital, talent and markets are as pressing as ever, especially for smaller growing companies. Given the current and coming turmoil in British politics, businesses need to step up to the challenges and opportunities of a post-Brexit Britain. And this includes BGF.
We can’t wait for politicians to provide the answers, but we must ensure that the priorities of business are high on the agenda of the next Government, and that Britain remains a pro-enterprise country with the policies to support that.
On the 24 June, the need for innovation, ideas and confidence among the UK business community became even more acute. Positives and opportunities do arise out of risk and uncertainty and as clichéd as it sounds, British businesses need to work together to move forward.
Now is the time to continue partnering, investing and pursuing growth. And that is something we are wholeheartedly committed to doing.
Alistair joined BGF in July 2011. His main role is to identify and successfully execute investments. Alistair also sits on the board of a number of our portfolio companies.
Alistair has 14 years’ experience in small company investing and has led investments into over 25 businesses. His investment experience was gained initially at Close Brothers and then at Octopus Ventures, where he was involved in a large number of growth capital and management buyout transactions, across multiple sectors and throughout the UK. In the majority of cases, Alistair also joined the board of those companies. Alistair began his career at Price Waterhouse with direct entry into the Business Recovery Services team.
Alistair has an MA in Modern History from Oxford University and is a qualified Chartered Accountant. He is married with three children and lives near Guildford. When he is not running around after his children, Alistair likes to play (or increasingly now settle for watching) cricket.
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