UK directory of business brokers (business transfer agents)?

...and why you've got no chance of finding the most competent ones in Google or business directories.

Business Broker Directory

The problem we had trying to find a list of business brokers in the UK

The UK has long suffered from the fact that there is no comprehensive national directory of business brokers / business transfer agents.

The reason may be that this is a fast changing landscape with some brokers regularly going bust and then reappearing under a new name (read our article about this).

When we first started building our database and knowledge base on UK business brokers we looked around for a seed directory to use as a starting point. We visited the directory at the well known BizBuySell site. But it's a US only affair and, though they had a UK section, it contained less than half a dozen names!

The "directory" at the International Business Brokers Association isn't any better. Not much international about it as it requires you to say which US state you're in. It was exactly the same with businessbroker.net and businessbookpress.com (a resource centre for business brokers). The former has just one broker listed in the UK at the time of writing this article!

Then we found the UK directory at the BusinessesForSale site. It's a big improvement, but it's not a comprehensive directory. It lists only those brokers who've applied to be listed and doesn't include the numerous Corporate Finance firms, legal firms and others who have very large and specialised business broking operations. This site lists only those calling themselves "business brokers" which, unfortunately,  leaves out some of the top talent.

It's also the case that many of the brokers listed on that last site are no longer in business!

We did investigate a few more, but the bottom line is that, er, there's nobody keeping track of who's still in business far less the areas they cover, the type of businesses they are specialised in handling, the fees they charge or the reputation of individual brokers.

So I took on the task of putting together a directory with all of the above information, and more, and commissioned a team to work on it. The public don't have access to our knowledge base, but it is used to advise and guide clients (and you can avail of that service yourself).

How you can go about finding a broker:

  • Finding a broker
  • Some search terms (& Broker names)

If you are researching business brokers you'll find that many of the best brokers don't feature anywhere in the top 20-30 pages of Google results. In fact, "business brokers" and "business transfer agents" may be completely the wrong terms to be searching under as you'll simply end up with a few like KBS, Turner Butler, Intelligent Business Transfer, Nationwide and RTA.

Some of the best "intermediaries" don't call themselves Business Brokers! They refer to themselves as Corporate Finance Advisers. ​They may also call themselves M&A Boutiques, ECM (Equity Capital Markets) Advisers, Commercial Real Estate Agents (particularly if they deal with hotels, property firms etc​), Exit Planners, Corporate Strategy Advisers and ​various other names!

Let's take just the "Corporate Finance" example from above. Many of these firms are
accountants who've specialised in company disposals and related exit advice. For example:

A
AGI Corporate Finance
Alaris Corporate Finance
Anderson Shaw Corporate Finance
Assay Corporate Finance
Atlas Corporate Finance
.
.

B
Ballard Evans Corporate Finance
​BHP Corporate Finance
BishopsGate Corporate Finance
Brabners Corporate Finance
BTG Corporate Finance
.

.

all the way to WK Corporate Finance LLP


And just when you think you can use "Corporate Finance" as a key term in your Google search, you'll find that many of the best firms don't use that term in their name. Examples:

Begbies Traynor Group
Garbutt & Elliott LLP
Rickitt Mitchell
(and about 83 others)

And many accountancy firms have corporate finance arms, but don't call themselves corporate finance firms. These include Tier 1 firm like Deloitte and PwC, but also mid-tier firms such as:  

Mercer & Hole
PKF Francis Clark
(and about 175 others)

To further confuse matters on the "Corporate Finance" front, some companies who use that in the title don't provide business disposal advice but are business loan merchants i.e. they are lenders, not brokers.

Other top intermediaries call themselves neither brokers nor corporate finance experts. These are firms that are at their heart legal firms now branched out into business disposals with highly specialised expertise. Example: Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP.

Many of the best intermediaries don't advertise on the internet as they have no shortage of clients! In fact, the best firms are very, very fussy about which businesses they take on. But they obtain some of the best outcomes for their clients ​so it pays to spend the time finding them and signing up with them.

Our database includes all of the above firms, and more, and the entire database is used to filter and fine tune the intermediary best suited to individual clients. So if you're looking for the right intermediary to take your business to market, the one that presents the highest chance of successfully selling and selling at top price, read about our service

If you are still want to research brokers, the next tab provides some suggestions on what you can search for and how.