Now entering its fourth year, the HR & Talent Tech Investor Summit will bring together 20 founders and CEOs from the sector’s most exciting scale-ups on 9th March to meet ten of the most active investors in this space. This popular event, run by TALiNT Partners in partnership with Deloitte, offers valuable insight and feedback on business plans, potential investment, M&A opportunities and trends in the talent tech sector. Previous summits have resulted in Sova Assessment securing investment from Octopus Investments and Access Group acquiring Volcanic.
TALiNT International spoke to Bruce Trewhella, Commercial Director at Access Group, to find out what he will be looking for as one of this year’s investors.
Access Group has been a regular supporter of this event. Why do you value the HR & Talent Tech Investor Summit?
I think it’s the best event of its kind in the UK because you meet lots of the right people in a short space of time. We get to meet a pre-qualified group of HR Tech founders looking for investment or looking to sell and, of course, we made an acquisition after meeting a business owner at one of your events. As a highly acquisitive business, we’re looking to build those relationships and your event provides a fantastic environment for meeting exciting new companies.
What are you looking for as a talent tech investor, and has your criteria changed in recent years?
We’re always looking for growing businesses that are profitable, with SaaS solutions that appeal to the mid-market (as it’s the space we serve) and support the move to cloud adoption. In addition to that, more recently the focus is on solutions for employee engagement and a more dispersed workforce. That can range from reward and, recognition, staff communications and well-being to upskilling and self-directed learning.
The newest trend that we’re seeing coming through is around career development and helping people identify the right career for them based on their strengths and their weaknesses. Unemployment rates are very high likely to go up further once the furlough scheme ends, and you’ve got the same number of people coming out of University, so employers and education institutions need tools help those people choose the right career or get on a path better suited to them.
Are you seeing any new post-pandemic M&A trends in HR Tech?
It’s been a really hot space for the last six or seven months, driven by potential changes in capital gains tax. The general consensus is CGT is going up which has brought a lot of founders to market earlier than they might otherwise have done. They worked out how higher CGT might affect their financial return in two years and decided to get out of it sooner. As a result, every adviser we are speaking with at the moment is super busy in the lead up to March. We have acquired three or four since September with several more processes in place.
Will high deal volumes continue beyond April? I think so. Interest rates are low. PE funds have money, and there’s been a bit of a feeding frenzy on good assets. For some good businesses, multiples have been going up from what we were two years ago which is also driving the increase in deal volumes.
From a business strategy perspective, we’re seeing founders recognize that profit generation is increasingly important as we will likely be in uncertain times for a while.
What are the new kinds of problems that talent tech needs to solve that are of interest to investors?
Having proved that a remote and dispersed workforce can work the psyche of employers is changing, which opens up a range of possibilities. Do you still need offices, or as much office space? Do you need to hire from London, or can you recruit from other UK cities – or similar time zones in other countries? The talent pool that you’re fishing in is suddenly a lot bigger. So solutions that cater for the dispersed workforce will be in increasing demand, whether it’s digital learning, video interviewing, or career development.
I’m really looking forward to meeting some great businesses at the Summit.
If you would like to attend a future HR Tech Investor Summit or any of our events for HR & Talent Tech founders, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The TIARA Talent Tech Star Awards are now open for entries, so register now at https://talenttech.tiara.talint.co.uk/.