In a previous position, Lance Taylor had made peace with the fact that his office was the kind where people essentially showed up, shut their doors, and went to work. “Everyone was great, but the environment was very isolated, and that’s not how I prefer to work.”
After spending a couple hours on the phone with HGGC partner Les Brown, and coming to the office in person, Taylor became convinced that HGGC’s collaboration-centered foundation would give it an edge in a market where interoffice competition can sometimes throw up unnecessary barriers and take a toll on company culture. “I was willing to take a bet and join HGGC, because it was the promise of something different and exciting.”
Lance continues to build out a top-notch finance team that can accommodate the expansion of HGGC while also helping usher in a new partnership with Dyal Capital Partners to continue HGGC’s growth and offer the firm a suite of value-added services.
Taylor says HGGC’s success, as well as his own since taking on the CFO position in 2014, is in the equity firm’s fundamental premise. “We don’t have any fiefdoms,” Taylor says. “We throw all of our relationships into the middle of the firm, collaborate, and work as a team internally.”
He says he’s routinely brought in on deal teams through an organic process that seems genuinely unique for a firm of HGGC’s stature. The company mindset is much more grounded in group accomplishment. “We eliminated the expectation that a rogue individual is going to succeed here,” Taylor says. “You have to be a team plyer to fit into our culture.”
The company culture is guarded so heavily that Taylor and his colleagues went through an eight-month process to make sure a new hire would be a good cultural fit for the firm, even though he was business school classmates with someone already at HGGC. “We don’t want to mess up the environment we’ve created here, because we think it’s pretty special,” Taylor says.
HGGC has good reason to guard its process. The firm has over $4.3 billion in cumulative capital commitments from investors around the world. The growth has required the firm to think strategically about leveraging its third-party relationships. “There’s only so much that you can accomplish with your internal expertise,” Taylor says.
During their last round of fundraising, the finance team made the decision to outsource its fund administration function. “They can invest in the same technology, but they can throw hundreds of thousands, if not millions, into development to support their client base,” Taylor says. “There’s no way we could keep up that sort of capital expenditure pace.” It’s enabled HGGC to be more transparent with its limited partners through enhanced reporting while limiting the strain on the resources within the finance team.
“We throw all of our relationships into the middle of the firm and work as a team internally.”
Taylor says the finance team is also partnering with a third-party vendor for data analysis and management that includes a service offering to handle and help with the data input and management. “They’re the hamster in the cage running the wheel, and we don’t have to hire those additional people,” Taylor says. “It helps us leverage what we do.”
The most recent and impactful partnership is HGGC taking on Dyal Capital Partners as a minority passive investor. The cash infusion is just a small part of what seems to be a prime partnership match.
“Dyal has a business services platform to assist HGGC in getting better at its own business and provides tools such as a purchase price platform that we can roll across our portfolio and acquire volume discounts on certain commodity pricing and products,” Taylor says. “They also give us access to a variety of experts as well as a network of limited partner relationships.”
With Dyal coming on board, it provided a wise time to reset the partnership group, and Taylor was promoted to partner. “It’s an opportunity to start thinking how I and my team can drive value in our firm,” Taylor says. “And how does that then parlay into our relationships with our limited partners and with our service providers.”
The rise in leadership has offered Taylor a more active role in these negotiations and says it allows him to free up the deal teams to spend time thinking about the actual business.
If Taylor seems intent on collaboration, it’s intentional. “I’ve always tried to buck the idea of that accountant with the green light shade in the back room crunching spreadsheets,” Taylor says.
Going back for his MBA at Duke University helped Taylor be seen more as a strategic thinker, and less of a pure numbers man. And while working to enhance his finance team and serving as the firm’s CFO is still role number one, Taylor is helping set HGGC apart with a mindset that the best outcomes mandate input from every side with his expanded role as a partner.
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