Career paths: Subi Inayat, investor at BGF
Subi Inayat went straight into corporate finance from university. He speaks to Jo Russell about the important experience he gained from being thrown in at the deep end.
When was your interest in corporate finance sparked?
While studying for my economics degree and masters at Imperial College, I had internships that gave me my first experience of corporate finance. Post-graduation, I looked for companies offering both a transactions-based role and an ACA training contract. In 2015, I joined KPMG in Birmingham, but didn’t enter the audit training scheme as most did. I went straight into the corporate finance department and did my ACA training alongside deal work. There weren’t many opportunities to do that, especially in the Midlands.
How challenging was studying while working on deals?
The ACA covered financial analysis, which is a critical skill for a corporate financier, and links into financial modelling. The training also had elements of business, commercial and financial strategy that I could definitely apply to my M&A role. There are more exams early in the ACA course, which meant I was jumping in and out of deals. It made it difficult to be part of an end-to-end process. But the team was very good at keeping me up to speed, and I got more experience once the exams became less frequent – albeit more difficult – which was invaluable.
What were your key lessons at KPMG?
My mentor advised me to expand my knowledge and skills in financial modelling – a core asset for any role in the transactions sector. It was difficult to manage that with my workload and studying for my ACA, but it really did pay off and allowed me to move more smoothly into my role at BGF. Before joining the corporate world, I’d always concentrated on financial performance, product/service offering and market analysis as my tools for analysing a business, without paying the same level of attention to management strength and capability. I very quickly learned in my role at KPMG that the key defining asset of any strong business is the management team, and this has only been further evidenced in my role at BGF.
Why the move to investment and BGF?
I enjoyed the transaction process, but I wanted to know what the journey would be like for the client business after that. At KPMG the majority of deals I worked on were with private equity houses, but as a team we were doing a lot with BGF in the Midlands. Their investment approach was more long-term than a typical private equity approach, which resonated with me. I joined them in June 2019, after four years at KPMG. A big part of my role is transaction management, sitting with management and financial teams, market experts, and writing committee papers in order to present opportunities internally. The firm’s flat structure meant I went straight in at the deep end, which was great.
Is there a recent deal of note?
I completed three deals in 2020. The last one was an £8m investment in Hinkley-based online flooring retailer UK Flooring Direct. I’m interested in e-commerce and I enjoyed spending time understanding more about what makes the market tick, and the impact that COVID-19 has had on it.
At BGF we have great tools and resources to help map out the online market in terms of conversions and customer behaviour. Learning how to use those tools was a great skill to pick up. I co-led that deal, coordinating the many moving parts, including sessions with different members of the management team, and subject matter experts we brought in later on. I’m now a board observer.
And your future ambitions?
It’s difficult at the moment to think too far ahead. Over the next couple of years, I want to get more transaction experience under my belt. We are a generalist house with more than 300 investments in different sectors and I value the wide experience. I’d like to complete more transactions in the field of e-commerce, as I see that as an increasingly important sector in a post-COVID-19 environment, and to work more on origination once my transacting skills are as good as they can be.
About the article
This comes from the Corporate Financier March 2021 edition - exclusively for Corporate Finance Faculty & Faculties Online members - who can access our highly regarded magazine in its originally designed form, as well as our extensive archive brought to you by the ICAEW Corporate Finance Faculty.