Mr Hayes told AccountantsDaily that Easton aims to buy into 20 to 30 well-established three- to 10-partner accounting firms with revenues in excess of $3 million.
Easton, according to Mr Hayes, is looking to utilise significant industry experience and a unique model of minority ownership to help firms deal with the increasingly prominent succession issues facing the profession.
“We look to take a minority interest of typically 30 per cent and then increase our interest, where invited, up to 49 per cent. But equally, we are prepared over time to sell down our interest to the 30 per cent level to accommodate the entry of new local partners. It is all about facilitating and promoting the longevity of the firm,” he said.
Mr Hayes said Easton Investments is not looking for underperforming firms that it can rebuild but quality firms it can work with to drive growth.
“The firms who will be attracted to us are the firms who are looking for a capital partner and looking for someone they can work with in terms of their growth path,” he said.
“We are not looking for distress situations that we can do turn-arounds or work-arounds with; we are looking for good quality firms so that we build a good quality portfolio of firms.”
Easton is looking to build a strong portfolio of firms that will have the opportunity to work with each other to help drive success.
“They will continue to be independent firms; however, there will be a common thread by virtue of our investment and the logical progression is that you would expect that, over time, those firms will talk to each other and may be able to leverage off each other,” Mr Hayes said.
Easton Investments has a more than adequate cash position to facilitate the aggressive growth plans, he said, adding that “we don’t see capital as being the limitation”.