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Interview with Julien Younes

We interview Julien Younes, chartered accountant, statutory auditor, and co-founder of Auris Advisory.

DEALCOCKPIT: Can you introduce yourself?

Julien Younes: My name is Julien Younes, I am a chartered accountant and statutory auditor and I co-founded Auris Advisory, a subsidiary of Auris Finance. Auris Advisory specialises in business valuation, due diligence, fund raising and capital reorganisation.

DC: Could you specify the links between those two branches?

Julien Y.: Auris Finance is an investment bank specialising in company disposals and acquisitions, run by my partners Jacques Roboh and Damien Gros. Auris Advisory assists Auris Finance in a variety of areas, such as optimising managers' assets in the context of a sale, auditing the acquisition of target companies, and so on.

DC: Are there specific areas of expertise and sectors in which your firm excels?

Julien Y.: It is in the very nature of Auris Finance to specialise by business sector.
We have five preferred sectors, the first being human resources, the second agri-food. Our third sector is technology, media, and telecommunications. Our fourth sector is services to industry and engineering. The fifth speciality, which we launched in 2023, is transport logistics. Our experts are former executives in these sectors and work within Auris Finance to carry out sale and acquisition transactions with a business director's approach. We therefore have a mix of business and technical skills with experts who are supported by our team of analysts and account managers.
At Auris Advisory, we are not specialised by sector, but we draw on Auris Finance's know-how and sector-specific skills when needed.

DC: What is your approach concerning company valuations in this period of economic uncertainty?

Julien Y.: The valuation of companies in times of economic uncertainty requires an adaptable approach. It is crucial to analyse the macroeconomic environment, the development of the sector in which the company operates, and to compare the development of its business with that of its sector. Based on this information, it is preferable to develop several scenarios – optimistic, pessimistic, and intermediate – in order to forecast the cash flows to be included in the valuation.

DC: How has the due diligence process evolved in the face of these economic changes?

Julien Y.: The changes we are witnessing particularly concern cybersecurity, which means that IT audits are more in-depth than they used to be. The ESG part of due diligence has also evolved, with the focus now on the gender balance within the company, equal pay, and so on. In addition, given the current economic climate, we are even more vigilant about current trading. Apart from that, there have been no major changes to due diligence.

DC: Is there an example of a particularly memorable case you have worked on that you can share with us?

Julien Y.: We assisted a company that experienced very impressive growth. It went from 0 to over €10 million in revenue in 3 years by dealing with a problem that many people had tried to tackle without managing it properly. Profitable from day one, they never lost money during their growth.
It was a company in the HR technology sector, or HRTech, that was self-financing and growing very fast. We helped them with the sale and all the buyers we met were impressed by the speed of execution and the market share that these directors had managed to secure during the company's 3-4 years of development.

DC: A great success story! Going back to your own activity, what digital tools do you use during your workflow to facilitate your efforts?

Julien Y.: We use several tools. We set up Docusign to simplify the signing of all our documents. It allows us to save time rather than printing documents, signing them, rescanning them,.... We also use a number of tools such as Kaspr and Lusha to retrieve information and contact details, and databases such as Pappers and Diane that enable us to retrieve information on the companies we want to target. Then we have information tools such as Fusacq, CFNews, Les Echos and the specialist press such as LSA in the agri-food sector to keep us informed about our sectors. The latest tool we have recently implemented is called Lemlist, which makes it easier to send e-mails and manage the creation of automated e-mail sequences, which saves us a significant amount of time.

DC: You mentioned Lemlist and Kaspr, which are considered to be prospecting tools. Can one assume that you do a lot of active prospecting?

Julien Y.: We use them in different contexts, not just for prospecting. When we want to contact buyers as part of a sale, for example, we don't always have the contact details of all the buyers. Kaspr allows us to retrieve contact details and, in the same way, Lemlist saves us time when we need to send a file to twenty or thirty potential buyers who seem relevant to us, because the tool allows us to send a volume of e-mails simultaneously without going into SPAM.
As far as Data Rooms are concerned, we use DEALCOCKPIT, which saves us a lot of time and is much appreciated by the various parties who use it.

DC: We thank you for your trust! Why did you choose us?

Julien Y.: Firstly, the tool meets the needs we have internally, thanks to its flexibility, particularly in managing the rights and accesses we open up to different users. We can restrict downloads and set mandatory watermarks to ensure the security of documents transmitted. We can restrict access to certain folders or sub-folders depending on who we allow into the Data Room, which is very useful. The whole functional side is pretty well done. A new feature allows us to duplicate folder trees, which also saves us time. We also have regular exchanges with DealCockpit, particularly to discuss new features. The support team is very responsive, which is great. Secondly, we have a recurring need for data-rooms. We currently carry out around 20 operations a year, and with the development we're undergoing, the aim is to reach 30 operations a year. The possibility of having customised packages with a permanent number of open data-rooms for a given price means that we don't have to keep asking ourselves the question of cost depending on the duration of the operation... We know that DealCockpit meets our needs and makes our day-to-day work easier in this respect.

DC: What can we improve?

Julien Y.: What could be further optimised is the Q&A module, which we do not yet find fluid enough. We receive the question and then have to transfer it to the customer.
Secondly - we've already spoken to Fiona about this - when customers who have the role of contributor create folders in the data room, they can't access them, they first have to be given the right as administrators. On this subject, it would be good to have an administrator alert when folders or sub-folders are created in the tree structure, so that they can be given direct access to new folders and sub-folders if necessary.

DC: Thanks for the feedback, it's already in the pipeline. Do you have a favourite 'mantra' to share or any final advice for business leaders?

Julien Y.: The most important thing for managers is to be well supported. Both at operational level and with the partners they work with. Next, financial culture is fundamental. Directors often focus on the profitability of their business, but cash flow management is just as important. The majority of business failures are linked to a lack of cash flow, not necessarily a lack of profitability. Another point to bear in mind is the sale of your business, which needs to be prepared in advance and not just on the day you decide to sell. The best way to sell a business is for the owner to be present as little as possible on a day-to-day basis, and for the business to depend on him as little as possible. To reduce the dependence on the owner, it is therefore necessary to anticipate and prepare as quickly as possible in order to facilitate the sale of the business.

DC: I imagine this also plays an important role in the valuation of the company?

Julien Y.: Exactly. Indirectly, it is very much related. One final point concerning business directors is that, first and foremost, they need to be congratulated. As managers, we are often confronted with a phenomenon known as "the manager's solitude". Company directors, you play an essential role in the prosperity and stability of our society.

DC: What can we wish you for the future?

Julien Y.: We have opened an office in Lyon and an office in Nantes in 2023, so we hope that these offices will continue to develop and that they will be able to do as many transactions as possible in the same way as the Paris office. Secondly, that the Auris Advisory structure continues to develop and to carry out more and more due diligence, valuation, and fundraising operations.

DC: We wish you all the best with that!