Reset and Rise – How former financial adviser Vicki Hicks reimagined M&A for people just like her

From being the new kids on the block to establishing themselves as one of the leading mergers and acquisitions (M&A) firms in this space, hear from our managing director Victoria Hicks, as she shares her “sliding doors” moment that led to her setting up The Exit Partnership.

The biggest driving force behind it was that she didn’t want others to experience what she had when selling her business.

“By the end of November 2018, my business had been sold. We were a growing group, acquisitive and exciting, and I was lucky enough to work with some exceptional talents, many of whom I am proud to still call friends.

“So, the sale was not to be the end, but the start of a new chapter, which we all entered as excited and ambitious as ever. Unfortunately, the reality of life post-completion was night and day compared to our expectations.

“After the sale completed, the ways in which I was being asked to work weren’t in line with my ethics. However, I was under a “share purchase agreement”, so it felt like it was a case of I work with them, or I don’t work as a financial adviser.

“Although I continued to work there, I felt like I was powerless. I was totally aware that the soul of our business lay in tatters, but that I had no influence to improve this. I felt mentally and physically broken.”

Victoria’s “sliding doors” moment

“As someone who has always dealt with my own problems, proudly presenting the solutions once I’d worked them out, this time I was stuck. ‘What do you mean you’re stuck?’, asked my husband.

“Under the share purchase agreement, I either work with them, or I don’t work as a financial adviser. I’m totally stuck, so I thought, what can I do? How can I use all of this knowledge and experience to help other people?

“This was my sliding doors moment. Faced with the reality of having to step away from a career I loved into the unknown, it was sink or swim, but I knew that the only outcome from staying with that business was that I would sink.

“Going through the grieving process brought clarity. I wanted to stop others making the same mistakes I did! I loved being a financial planner because I support wholeheartedly independent advice and have experienced first-hand the value this brings to families.

“I knew that if sellers had access to proper advice, from people who understood them, their business, and the relationships, this could result in better outcomes all round, including for the profession I cared so much about.”

“Stu, I’m going to be a broker – but different”

“Brokers had been unavoidable along our journey. They introduced us to businesses we were successful in acquiring and made the introduction to the firm who acquired us. They provided options and introductions, but beyond this, nothing. This got me thinking about the broker space –   where did it come from, how did it really work, and who were they really working for?

“It seemed to emerge largely from IFA recruitment firms. Like the client/candidate relationship in recruitment, they could take this model and introduce buyers to sellers.

“With them funnelling introductions towards their trusty consolidators, happy to pay them handsomely for their ‘role’, is it any wonder the world of M&A was like looking back at a battlefield full of wounded sellers?

“Fortunately, I had managed to attract others into the business who shared my desire to do things right – focus on the sellers, operate without bias, and shine a spotlight on some of the terrible practices we were seeing.”

We brought change to the profession

“In 2022, we ripped things up! We reduced our fees to a level accepted by all acquirers who engage brokers, so we can operate without financial bias. We officially launched our “sell side” route where we are contracted to the sellers, and we set out to deliver education and guidance to as many people as possible by working with suppliers to the profession.

“We understand the businesses we work with, we represent those businesses, and we are there from start to finish. I am proud to say that now over three years in, I am delighted at the difference we have made to so many.

“I also feel more actively involved in the planning profession than I ever have, helping firms to work through their issues, being a sounding board, and being called upon as a speaker on a breadth of topics from women in advice to Consumer Duty, through to my specialist subject, M&A.”

We do things the right way

“We will never send a phishing email. You know the ones… ‘we have a buyer in your area’ and so on. We will take all the time needed to ensure we understand the business and that the seller is ready for the process, and we operate entirely without financial conflict.

“We continue to go from strength to strength, as we attract more new talent to broaden our proposition, and we look forward to sharing our developments in future articles.”

Get in touch

If you are looking to sell your business and want an organisation that looks after you and every single aspect of the process, speak to Melo. Email or call 0113 4656 111.


How Your Default Mode Network is holding you back
Have a read


Why first impressions count
Have a read


Revolutionise Your Financial Advisory Business: 5 Incredible ChatGPT Time & Money Savers That Will Set You Apart
Have a read
Arrow icon

We're your

Say 'elo

We’ve got our thinking caps on and we’re ready to mingle.

    How can we help?