Richard Pepler floated his factoring and invoice discounting company, Ultimate Finance, on AIM as a start-up, partly because it ensured the business followed good corporate governance practice from the beginning.
“We wanted to abide by the strict corporate governance regulations for AIM and that follows through to everything else we do,” he says. “We run a tight ship; the whole business is rigid in terms of governance and doing things properly and ethically."
However, there were many other benefits. Listing on AIM gave the company a strong balance sheet that, in turn, secured a large funding facility from the bank to finance its operations. It also provided Ultimate Finance with added credibility and easier access to cash for acquisitions.
The alternative to listing was hitting up the venture capital community for cash – something Pepler wasn’t keen on. “9/11 happened just nine months before we floated so money was scarce," he says, "and because we’re in financial services, the VCs wouldn’t have been able to get the tax breaks that were available to them.
"In any event, we didn’t want a defined exit route. We wanted more control over our destiny.”
Ultimate Finance raised about £2m from more than 300 shareholders before floating. Today, the firm employs 46 people in four offices across the UK and turnover of £4.14m.