In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Adam T. Hark, managing member of Wellesley Hills Financial, saw a demand for access to quality capital that wasn't being addressed in payments, fintech and software verticals. In these spaces, he saw founders and innovators in need of working capital to go to market and grow their companies; particularly in lower-middle and micro-market sectors with enterprise values between $10 million and $500 million.
Companies of this size are frequently overlooked by larger investment bank houses, Hark realized, because raising capital requires working with traditional M&A consultants who are registered with FINRA and the SEC and don't typically work with smaller companies. He resolved to fill this gap by creating a firm that valued creativity, with guiding tenets of thoughtfulness, financial rigor and financial knowledge. Thus, Wellesley Hills Financial was established.
"Understanding our vertical expertise and the size of the companies we represent, our overarching first principle is to do our best to achieve an outcome that answers the needs of the client," he said. "Or in other words, we're not in the business of pushing transactions for transactions' sake—it's all about the client's objectives."
Hark, who currently leads WHF's broader financial technology and tech-enabled software practice, recently appointed O.B. Rawls as executive director and Anthony Malatesta as director of the firm's payments technology practice. The growing company currently employs 10 members, and has near-term plans for additional appointments.
Unlike other investment banks and specialty payment consultancies that focus on the purchase and sale of merchant portfolios, WHF has broader areas of focus and is actually an investment bank with its own broker dealer, Hark noted, adding that in an of itself, that is not unique, but is unusual for a company that works with the smaller-size companies.
"It's funny that even though our core team has been banking assets in the payments space for a very long time, it's only now with the new firm that we do so as an investment bank, and not as an M&A advisory shop," he said. If he were to rank the company's milestones in order of importance, he noted, he would say establishing Wellesley Hills Financial and Wellesley Hills Securities in roughly 18 months in the middle of the pandemic, and becoming profitable in the first year, were notable achievements.
"We're closing in on our second major milestone for the firm, which is to build a meaningful pipeline of opportunities in our broader coverage areas of payments, fintech and tech-enabled software," he said shortly before this profile's publication. "For us, this is very significant because it's evidence that we're definitely doing quality work."
Hark went on to say that Wellesley Hills Financial's primary offerings are capital raising and mergers and acquisitions. Beyond that, he said, the company performs quite a bit of consulting work, which includes 409A valuations, restructurings, and KPI analysis and financial modeling.
Given its deep expertise and long-lasting relationships in multiple sectors, WHF has a strong network in payments and fintech that lends itself to establishing highly valuable strategic partnerships among a healthy cross-section of clients, Hark noted.
"We want to be the number one investment bank and consultancy in payments technology and fintech for the leading edge of founders and innovators in the lower-middle and micro-end of the market," he said. "Our management team is strongly aligned with the longer-term goal of value creation, and we believe if we continue to execute at a high level and continue to earn the trust of more and more founders, our aim will be realized."
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