EKS&H Founding Partners William Keefe, Bob Hottman, Dave Steiner and Doug Ehrhardt in this 2016 image. Image courtesy EKS&H

EKS&H’s investment-banking arm assists with buyouts, securities

Professional services firm EKS&H has formed an investment-banking firm in Denver to help its current and new clients with corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions.

EKS&H has been around a long time and has a great reputation in the marketplace in Colorado and beyond, said Adams Price, president of EKS&H Capital Advisors LLC, which was launched in December.

The company has “really developed relationships with clients, beyond just being their accountant. It is being their adviser, the people who help them through strategic decisions through the entire life of their business,” Price said. Unfortunately, EKS&H was not able to help its clients if they wanted to sell their company or negotiate to buy another company or place securities or place debt on their behalf.

“That was something that was a challenge for their clients and also for EKS&H partners,” he said. That was the genesis of EKS&H Capital Advisors.

“The reception from the market was fantastic,” Price said. “We already do so much for these clients. It made sense to provide this service to them as well.”

From that perspective, it has been fairly easy for EKS&H to jump into the investment-banking market. And even though the company was starting the operation from scratch, it had a great reputation in the professional-services industry. It also put together an experienced team of deal makers, including Price.

“We’re not holding securities. We are not trading stocks and bonds on the public market,” he said. Instead, the company offers a range of investment-banking services, including sell-side and buy-side merger and acquisition advisory, capital formation and strategic advisory services.

“What is so unusual about EKS&H is that the organization’s values direct every single interaction and relationship — on all levels,” Price said. “Their remarkable commitment to deep, long-term relationships and comprehensive advice are primary reasons for their growth as a leading public accounting and consulting firm in the western U.S. Investment banking is a natural extension to the deep relationships in the marketplace.”

EKS&H knew it had a vast roster of clients, at least 3,000, so it knew it had a good base for its investment-banking services.

“We already have a lot of inbound interest from companies that aren’t clients of EKS&H yet, which is just fantastic. In our mind, that is a real bellwether of the demand for these kinds of services in the marketplace and demand for these services from firms that are just obsessively committed to doing it right and always focusing on the client’s best interest,” Price said. “EKS&H is known for that.”

The company is headquartered in the Denver Tech Center but has clients in Denver, Boulder, Greeley and Fort Collins, so Price travels constantly among those cities.

It’s all about helping these companies through the entire lifecycle of their business, Price said. EKS&H does a lot of legwork on the front end of any transaction. It completes due diligence before it starts soliciting funds for a company.

“We can make sure it is a very transparent process and that investors see exactly what they are going to get. They don’t find surprises after initially agreeing to digging down into what the investment might be for them and what kinds of risks they might have,” he said. “We can identify those risks ahead of time.”

EKS&H likes to work with companies “where we can make a market for them; where we can run a process that is going to take advantage of competitive pressures in the marketplace to make sure that our client gets the best possible situation for themselves and we can negotiate the best terms for them.”

Other market factors made this an ideal time to found an investment-banking firm, including the acquisition of Denver’s St. Charles Capital by KPMG Corporate Finance in June 2014 and the closure of Green Manning & Bunch in 2015. Price says that after KPMG took over St. Charles, it began focusing on other markets and regions besides Colorado. Green Manning & Bunch was considered the Rocky Mountain region’s premiere merger and acquisition investment bank until it shut its doors.

Both of those transactions left a hole in the Denver market that needed to be filled.

Price came from a boutique investment-banking background, which he says is good at fostering a creative process, but they “don’t have the luxury of being able to provide the full breadth of services to properly prepare someone for an investment and make sure they are properly positioned and can get the highest terms. There is a lot left undone by the time a typical investment bank goes out to market with their client.”

EKS&H is trying to change that by providing these services upfront so that by the time a client goes out to market, there is a much higher probability of getting a transaction done and doing so in a way that is geared toward the best outcome for the client, he added.

“We’re in a position where if there is a transaction sitting in front of our client and we feel it is not the best one for our client, we will say that is not the right one. Let’s go find something else. We have no problem saying that,” Price said. “With boutique investment banks, that is not always the case. We got this deal, and if we are going to get paid, we need to get the deal done. We’re fortunate in that we never find ourselves in that situation.”


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