Drive, Passion, and Experience: 15 Years on for DSW Transaction Services

For founding partners, Ed Brentnall and Catriona Lang, a commitment to providing the best possible service for their clients has been a cornerstone of the DSW Transaction Services team from the moment they began 15 years ago to now. With this in mind, we spoke to Ed and Cat about what differentiates them from the competition in a market that has grown rapidly since they first set up their own business with DSW.

transaction services northwest

Providing unbeatable value to clients

As a predominantly reputation-based workflow, Ed and Cat’s diligence in delivering the best possible product while offering value they may not get elsewhere is clear to their existing and prospective clients. Their workflow is firmly based on senior-delivered work with clearly articulated opinions and concise reports with quality constantly in mind. For them, the feedback they gain from their clients is that their granular, detailed approach sets them apart and, in turn, has resulted in several award wins.

Even after 15 years, Ed and Cat are still delivering work and getting stuck into the detail, a departure from traditional models that utilise partners in an oversight/review role instead. Still delivering such value after 20 years of working in Due Diligence is a real draw for clients, as demonstrated by:

  • The team has worked with 75-plus sectors and subsectors.
  • They have worked on >350 transactions.
  • 3x NW TS team of the year awards won.

This approach only adds to the reputation of Transaction Services and drives the high levels of repeat work the TS team receives. They also have supported the setting up a DSW TS presence in Yorkshire and the Northeast, Scotland, and Thames Valley.

Persevering through tricky deals with experience and hard work

Any difficulties that arise during the deals they work on are swiftly and expertly dealt with by the team, whose dogged and experienced attitude allows them plenty of scope to pull from and think outside the box to give their clients what they need.

Ed comments: “We’ve absolutely gained a reputation for being able to deliver on challenging assignments. A case in point is a recent private equity deal where, almost immediately, we found the target business’ financial information to be of insufficient quality, inappropriate accounting policies, and the management team having been given repeated poor advice by its external accountants. We swiftly moved to a data prep exercise, allowing an initial red flag review and the process to proceed, albeit with multiple 100-day plan recommendations for our client to implement. Not straightforward, but we were able to peel back the layers, establish a viable investment despite the paucity of information, yet allow the investor to proceed with full knowledge of the integration task ahead”.

The team understands M&A is rarely straightforward, especially in the post-COVID-19 landscape, with Cat adding: “Over the years, even when acting on the buy side, we’ve become adept at guiding vendors through the process. Particularly regarding bolt-on acquisitions, vendors often either don’t engage advisors or are mistrustful of the process. Emotions can often run high in what is frequently an exit from their life’s work. Subtly handholding exiting directors through the sale process to achieve a successful investment for our client is a surprisingly frequent occurrence”.

In the final talk with Ed and Cat, we see how their experience and drive have inspired their team, fostering home-grown talent.