In Focus: Bill Hughes, VRG U.S.

Q. Who is VRC?

A. Valuation Research Corporation is a full-service, independent firm focusing exclusively on valuations and advisory services with a staff of over 250 professionals in the U.S. who have been providing objective, supportable conclusions of value since 1975.

VRC’s international and domestic clients range from Fortune 500 companies to private companies, private debt and private equity sponsors, private equity portfolio companies, hedge funds, business development companies, venture capital firms, and more. This client base covers a broad range of industries, enabling us to track industry trends and deeply understand unique and specific client needs within various business segments. Further, this allows us to add an independent viewpoint and an extra layer of support and transparency with more robust valuation policies that conform to best practices as a third-party assessor.

We deliver well-supported valuation conclusions and reports that comply with the relevant reporting standards and substantiation to withstand possible scrutiny.

Q. What areas of your expertise contribute to the strength of VRC service offering?

A. VRC’s core services include valuation opinions concerning fairness, solvency, and capital adequacy related to deal transactions and financial and tax reporting. We also have a full portfolio valuation practice that provides fair market values for their private investment portfolios, including equity, debt, structured credit, and complex securities.

Q. How do clients benefit from a relationship with VRC?

A. VRC, like all the firms in the VRG network, is foremost a valuation firm—in our case, it’s all we do. That means we aren’t distracted or conflicted by advisory or audit engagements.

Firm-wide, we believe the importance of consistency in client relationships and service is paramount. VRC takes great pride in its industry-leading colleague retention rates, making us the reliable third-party partner clients trust.

The fabric of our team builds upon a cultural foundation that values clear and open communication, collaboration, and innovation.

We are motivated to succeed by an ever-accessible, interconnected senior leadership team and emphasize a multi-level, proprietary internal training program that rewards hard work and dedication to one another and our clients. Evidence of this comes from our client relationships’ longevity and satisfaction with our work product.

Q. In addition to your practice at VRC, you serve on VRG’s executive committee. Can you talk about how VRG formed?

A. VRG started in the mid-to-late ’90s. As VRC’s U.S. clients ramped up their international strategic activity, we saw the need for boots on the ground in major markets to support them. The initial construct was a hub-and-spoke model, with the U.S. at the center and tapping partners in different countries for valuation work—usually on straightforward, tangible assets like PP&E—as needed.

Q. What differentiates VRG’s capabilities, and how do you build and maintain a culture of practical cooperation, ensure best practices, and consistently deliver value to clients?

A. Over time, we’ve seen deals get more extensive and complex, with trickier tax and regulatory hurdles and often featuring more intangible assets as the driver of value. There’s also been a significant and consistent uptick in activity from non-U.S. companies seeking to execute cross-border deals.

As a result of these market evolutions, we’ve built the VRG team with partners with sophisticated capabilities. Likewise, we continue to identify and onboard new members with similar abilities to handle complex engagements in new geographies.

It didn’t take long for VRG’s historical hub-and-spoke model to evolve into something much more powerful and dynamic—we are a network of equals who practice valuation to a global standard while bringing deep expertise in the nuances of their home markets. That’s a stark contrast to many international professional services firms that recreate their structure and approaches in every office they open, and it’s a contrast we are proud to highlight.

Of course, the challenge of a network approach—and this speaks to the culture question—is how to foster cooperation and consistency in value delivery in a network of busy professionals.

VRG has been successful because of the culture of trust and accountability we’ve carefully and purposefully built over the years. It started with formal relationship-building opportunities, including an annual in-person meeting where senior executives from every member firm come together for a week-long intensive series of business meetings and team-building events. I’m also happy to share that VRG’s 2022 annual meeting will be held again in person this October after going virtual only in 2020 and 2021.

We also have a quarterly virtual meet-up with key members from all 13 firms to discuss the state of the global and our local economies. We discuss everything from interest rates and markets to pandemic impacts and geopolitical risk. The whole of our network gains a deeper insight into global issues’ nuances and pulls from their own experiences to share advice. We have also taken this model and our commitment to strengthening the network through regular meetings to the next level of up-and-coming professional leaders. We’ve implemented a meeting schedule of virtual practice group communities to connect rising talent with our member firms.

It takes discipline and commitment to bring everybody together as we do, crossing oceans and time zones. Still, these formal events lead directly to constructive day-to-day interactions crucial to turning nominal affiliation into a shared trust and partner reliability that ultimately produces client results worldwide. We all feel deep accountability for each other.

Strong relationships form the bedrock of VRG and are the driving force behind our ability to serve our global clients effectively.