Alex Ham and Ross Mitchinson share their views on an exceptional year for the firm.
We went early in moving the whole firm to working from home, with the safety and wellbeing of our staff being our primary concern. After an intensive period of preparation and trials, we went to complete home working on the 13 March, some 10 days ahead of the UK national lockdown. From support staff to IT to the Equities business to Investment Banking – everybody moved to the new flexible working regime overnight and effectively.
It was a big ask, but thanks to all our people, who really live our agile dynamic culture, we made the move seamlessly and carried on delivering outstandingly well for our clients. It is a great example of the Numis difference and dedication in action – our people’s willingness to work hard and embrace new ways of doing things made it happen.
In recent years we have devoted a great deal of investment and energy to building the one-firm high-performance Numis culture. This has been a core part of our client-focused strategy and our ambition to be the investment bank of a generation.
We distil our culture down to our four core values: partnership, excellence, dynamism and creativity. From recruiting key people to extending our services, last year was in great measure a year of investing in building our capabilities to live these values ever more strongly. In this exceptional year of great challenges and opportunities, huge uncertainties and pressures – our values really came to the fore, for our clients and for all of us in Numis.
Through the first few months of the year, we continued with business-as-usual, focusing as ever on delivering for our clients. But of course, everything changed when COVID-19 hit. Overnight, our pre-COVID-19 pipeline was replaced with a whole new set of issues and requirements for our clients, which in turn meant we pivoted to deliver completely new advice, transactions and support.
As a result, the second half of our year was incredibly busy. The speed at which deals picked up was extraordinary and a number of the transactions we worked on had very short lead times. The whole firm pulled together to do this hugely intensive work incredibly well. The execution across all aspects of the business was faultless, despite all the challenges thrown at us.
We went from having two offices to 292 home offices overnight and the business carried on operating seamlessly for our clients – carrying out major transactions to the same high-quality standards in a completely new fully remote distributed environment. We don’t underestimate the huge effort required by our people to ensure this was possible and are incredibly grateful for the sacrifices everyone made.
"It was a really important year for us. We were quick to flip to full remote working, which was a huge credit to the dynamism and agility of the firm; and then we managed to handle the busiest few months in the firm’s history without missing a beat. We really excelled for our clients during that extremely difficult time."
We also raised £247m for ASOS. This was another deal where we were helping a long-term entrepreneurial tech-enabled client act quickly to make the most of a fast-changing situation.
Across our broad client base, we executed deals, helping clients raise funds to repair their balance sheets and realign themselves for current and future opportunities. We’re proud of the size and strength of our core corporate client list, which has been built up over many years and truly came into its own this year.
"During this COVID-19 environment, we aimed to respond by putting our clients front and centre. That typifies what has happened over the last six months – our culture saw the firm engage, get our heads down, give great advice, be on the front foot. There was amazing intensity across the organisation, as we focused on delivering for our clients."
On the private markets side, our Growth Capital Solutions business continued to go from strength to strength. In September, we announced one of the largest private deals in Europe and our largest private deal so far – raising US$650m for leading European fintech and Europe’s largest unicorn, Klarna.
This is another long-term client partner success story for us. We’ve advised Klarna on multiple transactions over the years and this was a large front-footed raise executed at pace for a company at the heart of the accelerated online retail transition forced by COVID-19. It makes Klarna the most highly valued private fintech in Europe and one of the top five worldwide.
We were the sole strategic adviser on the transaction. This flagship deal is a great example of excelling for our clients and of how, through Growth Capital Solutions in particular, we are extending our reach beyond the UK. We learn a great deal from advising private companies – it gives us valuable access and insights to key trends earlier. As a result, we build our knowledge and abilities to advise our broader client base.
Underlining the breadth and depth of today’s Numis, we achieved our record performance in Investment Banking despite the highly subdued market in two of our core business lines: IPOs and M&A. In recent years, we have invested in building strong capabilities in both these areas and are well-placed for when activity picks up again. Moreover, our one-firm model places the emphasis on Numis as a whole, delivering for each and every one of our clients. We draw on our broad range of services and expertise as needed, to excel for our clients.
We also had a record year in Equities – guiding and advising our institutional clients through the COVID-19 crisis. We worked intensively with them and really proved ourselves as their trusted partner.
Our position as a leading provider of UK research and execution services to UK clients continued to strengthen. We believe this is another area where we stand out for our clients. Our commitment to providing high-quality and in-depth research has been increasingly recognised by our clients since MiFID II, and in this tumultuous COVID-19 period it has been appreciated even more. This was evidenced by the notable step up in client interaction that we saw during the market gyrations caused by COVID-19.
In Equities, as in Investment Banking, we are always looking for opportunities to refine and enhance our services and the ways we can help our clients. In this spirit, we successfully launched our Electronic Trading offering towards the start of the year. It has been well-received by clients in the UK and we see further growth potential both in the UK and also in Europe and North America.
Big uncertainties and challenges undoubtedly remain for everyone in today’s world, but we’re excited about the future.
This year we were forced into a scenario that we never could have planned for or envisaged, and we’ve done many things that we never would have thought possible. But throughout, our core beliefs, our strategy and ambition stayed constant.
Looking ahead, we will continue to dedicate ourselves to being a dynamic, creative investment bank that works in partnership with our clients to excel for them.
Long term relationships built on shared ambition are at the heart of everything we do
We deliver with distinction and pursue ever greater impact
We operate with passion and intensity to match the aspirations of our clients
We dare to challenge convention and are innovative in our origination and execution