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Meet the Team: Tom Smith

Why did you decide to join the world of private equity? 

I learnt what private equity was in my mid-teens and was immediately drawn to the industry. I felt that it was a unique opportunity to engage with different businesses and create value from a relatively early age. As I grew up and started to learn more about the industry, there were numerous other aspects that also appealed to me. To name a couple, I would say the people and the variety of work. I know it is clichéd but no one day is the same in private equity!  

You joined Livingbridge in 2019. What drew you to the firm? 

Livingbridge operates in the mid-market which really appealed to me. I never wanted to work for a large-cap organisation, spending my days with my head buried in a spreadsheet, but equally I didn’t want to join an organisation that lacked the resources and international footprint to drive real value in the companies that they invest in.   

Aside from its strong, through the cycle, investment track-record, another standout reason for joining Livingbridge was its culture. I’m clearly biased but I think the firms culture massively sets it apart from every other firm in the industry. Everyone’s opinion is valued and respected; there is a restlessness to improve; and there is balance – the team work hard but also know how to have fun!  

What advice would you give someone looking to enter the world of private equity? 

Do your research, identify feeder industries into private equity, and hone your curiosity. I think questioning everything around you is key to being a good investor. 

What excites you most about your work on the new investment team? 

I really enjoy being out and about meeting entrepreneurs and management teams, learning about their businesses and trying to understand why they do what they do. Immensely passionate business leaders often makes for a good investment opportunity!  

I also enjoy the negotiation around the back-end of a deal. It’s challenging – and can sometimes be frustrating – but it’s also fun and rewarding in equal measure. 

Are there any deals you have worked on that you’re particularly proud of? 

I’m really proud of our investment in CitNOW group, a global provider of front-office software to the automotive retail industry. It’s a project I worked on for an extended period of time – thinking through our value strategy for over a year prior to our investment which involved speaking to numerous industry experts and meeting potential interesting bolt-on targets. 

Since investing, we have supported the firm by strengthening its management team with the appointment of a non-exec Chairman, and significantly expanding its suite of products and international footprint through four strategic bolt-on acquisitions. 

Interestingly, CitNOW was a company I advised whilst working at Deloitte, so it feels like I’ve come full-circle! 

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? As a big Leicester City fan, do you make it to many matches?

I try to as much as possible, but must admit that my attendance has waned since the glory season of 15/16…  

I also just enjoy doing anything outdoors – especially if I have spent most of my week sat in an office!  

I grew up Rutland, so I feel at home away from the hustle and bustle of the city. When the weather is nice, you can usually find me golfing or cycling most weekends or, if not, glued to whatever sport is on the TV (Formula 1 is a staple in our household!).