My interview with Andrew Thomson, Managing Partner at HMT LLP, takes place on board a plane bound for an international M&A conference in Milan. It’s the most opportune time to grab 30 minutes with Andrew whilst we’re airborne, as his phone can’t ring and he’s not able to fully immerse himself in working on HMT’s next successful deal. Still motivated after running his award-winning corporate finance business since 1992? Of that there is no doubt.
3 most certainly was the magic number 27 years ago when HMT was conceived, the brainchild of Andrew and 2 colleagues (The H and the M in HMT) who were fed up with working too long and too hard for someone else and wanted to build their own business.
“We fed off each other” says Andrew. “Any challenges we faced were met with positivity.”
Ironically the “T” in HMT may have been pulled out of the hat last when the trio named their fledging business, but Thomson has endured, and remains as focused and hungry for success as he was at the inception of HMT.
Born in Scotland, but raised in England for the majority of his life, Andrew was naturally competitive from an early age, channeling his early ambitions into sport, notably rugby and boxing as much as in the classroom.
In the early 1980’s Andrew captained his University boxing team for three years with a number of successes including British Universities Light Middleweight Boxing Champion. Training up to 30 hours per week at the peak of his boxing ‘career’, both ability and hard work contributed to this success, a lesson which Andrew has not forgotten today in his business life.
He knuckled down and gained his Master’s degree in Economics with Accountancy from the University of Aberdeen in 1984 but had the handicap of having to sit his finals with a broken hand.
Andrew trod the pathway followed by so many business-minded graduates by working his way through The Big Four, gaining as much experience and knowledge of the corporate finance world as he could. When asked what he enjoyed most about working for a big corporate, he specifically mentions the exposure and access he had to the really big clients, and the bigger deals.
But that wasn’t enough. The drive and determination to do his own thing won out, and he ventured into the world of the self-employed in 1992. Ultimately, he enjoys being his own boss. HMT today is one of the most successful independent corporate finance companies in the Thames Valley, with over 500 transactions completed to date with an aggregate value in excess of £5 billion.
When asked if he has realised all his ambitions and dreams, Andrew’s response is instant; “No” he says, “I’m still enjoying what I do, still enjoying the thrill of the deal and I’m still motivated for more.”
He is certain that the discipline and strength he gained through competitive sport has shaped him as a businessman, helping him to stay focused, in control and motivated. He claims to not be chasing the ‘deal to end all deals’, enjoying instead the whole atmosphere of what he does, of running his own business and closing both big and small deals.
HMT has been based in Henley in Thames since it was created. Undoubtedly a beautiful part of the UK, but perhaps not best known for its bustling corporate environment. So why base his business here in the Thames Valley?
“The advantage of being based in this part of the UK is not being close to London” says Andrew. “We have enjoyed a prominent business presence in the heart of the Thames Valley for the last 27 years”. Attracting corporate finance talent when not based in the capital can be difficult at times. So, to increase their presence in the London market, HMT opened a London based office in 2015 where their Debt Advisory and Due Diligence teams are largely based.
HMT remains a big player in the Thames Valley area however, having successfully advised businesses in the south for 27 years. They have repeatedly been recognized by their peers, winning ‘Corporate Finance Team/Advisor of the Year’ and/or ‘Deal of the Year’ at the Thames Valley Deal Awards on an annual basis.
So what does the future hold for Andrew Thomson and HMT? Reacting to changes in the market will always be the key to success, and Andrew is well aware of current shifts in the corporate finance market, with more liquidity and increased debt on the horizon.
There could also be the possibility of more cross-border deals with HMT’s involvement with the International Corporate Finance Group (ICFG), a cross border M&A corporate finance network of independent firms.
Whatever Andrew strives for in the future for himself and HMT, a continued level of desire and energy will be needed to maximise the opportunities and challenges ahead.
So I finished by asking him who has inspired him over the years, and where he still draws his inspiration from. I was ready for the big name in sport, a boxer or rugby player, or a successful business innovator he has admired.
“In 10 year’s time I will look up to myself” he says with a grin.
And that’s the crux of his success to date, a total belief in himself and an overriding enjoyment of what he does.