Sitting in the Taylor Collison boardroom 16 floors above Victoria Square, Scott Dolling, has a clear view across the CBD to many of South Australia’s corporate headquarters.
It’s not just the stunning view that gives the experienced institutional stockbroker and company director a unique perspective on compiling the Top 100 companies for the annual South Australia Business Index, it’s also the fact that the 88-year-old firm is proudly South Australian too.
To be included in the Business Index, companies must have their head office in South Australia, with an Adelaide share registry, or be operated, founded and majority-owned by South Australians. Qualifying companies cannot be government-run, agencies of government, or a registered charity.
Taylor Collison ticks all these boxes.
“The business is 88 years old, so it’s a little older than people think,” says Dolling.
“It was established in 1928 and has always been a partnership. There has never been a sale of the business or a strategic alliance where firms have bought equity and then sold it back. It has always just been a partnership model.”
Dolling says that being a third generation South Australian business gives Taylor Collison a matchless advantage when coordinating the list of the state’s top companies.
“There is a long tradition of family in the company,” says Dolling, pointing out that half the partners today are second- or third-generation from the founding Taylor, Collison, Pittman and Whiting families.
Having the other half of the partners coming from outside the founding families rounds out the firm’s expertise, according to Dolling.
“It is a really interesting blend and very functional because you’ve got this ‘coming in’ view and you’ve got ‘this is what has worked and continues to work’ view,” says Dolling.
“We are one of two Adelaide-owned stock brokers companies in Adelaide,” Dolling adds. “All the other brokers have head offices interstate or overseas.”
Being a local company, says Dolling, means they have built solid relationships across all sectors of the economy, especially the resources sector, which is an industry they have historical links to stretching back to the Poseidon Nickel days.
“We are proud of those roots in the resources sector and we draw from this the conviction to be in the resources sector,” he says.
Taylor Collison compliments this with a long focus on industrial growth, financial services and energy companies.
Another point of pride for Dolling is that in the volatile stockbroking business, the agency has survived close to nine decades.
“It is a credit to the partners over the years, how they established the risk management culture,” He says.
“You need to manage your risk in this business because there is a long history of stockbroking firms getting ahead of themselves and going broke by expanding at the wrong time.
“Or using their balance sheet for the wrong reasons. Every cycle there is the musical chairs, where someone gets found out doing the wrong thing.”
Dolling says that with 66 staff, of which 44 are based in Adelaide and the other 22 are in their Sydney office, Taylor Collison is a boutique brokerage with the professionalism of a main broking house.
“It comes down to a combination of 25 plus years working in the business, creating deep relationships. So that’s our starting point,” he says.
“Nothing illustrates this more than our institutional desk, run by Mark Pittman, who has been sitting here talking to exactly the same people as [the big firms] on the same sort of things, but for a lot longer. You know there is some really deep trust and relationships that are a real asset to the business,” Dolling says.
“There are no secrets clients, there are no hidden fund managers – we know who to call.”
This knowledge of exactly who to call has helped secure Taylor Collison the East Coles Award for Best Equities Desk for an Independent Dealing House for the past three years, a recognition Dolling says he hopes will continue when the 2016 winner is announced.
Dolling says that a least half the firm’s business is institutional broking, while the other half is made up of private broking, portfolio management services, equity capital raising and merger acquisition advice.
The depth of knowledge and trust around town also helps when surveying for the South Australian Business Index, which relies on local companies providing Taylor Collison with sensitive information.
According to Dolling, the methodology used to build the index is based on a market capitalisation amount for each nominee with the list indexed by the size of this value. With listed entities, market capitalisation can be calculated using the active market for the shares on the ASX. With unlisted entities who only provide turnover, market capitalisation value is estimated by using industry margin benchmarking (with sources obtained from the ABS and ATO), along with an unlisted price to earnings multiple consistently applied to provide the most meaningful and comparable method when ranking the index.
The list includes companies from all major sectors and last year added awards for the fastest-growing company on the list (in terms of revenue) and best new entrant (highest-ranking company not included last year), plus a Rising Star award for the company that has moved up the rankings the most since 2016.
No doubt the offices of many of the companies making the list will be visible from the windows of Taylor Collison.
Nominations for the top 100 are now open and close on 31 August. For more information regarding nominations, contact Taylor Collison on 8217 3900.
The Top 100 will be announced at the South Australian Business Index luncheon on Thursday 28 September at the Adelaide Oval. You can book tickets here.
For further information on the South Australian Business Index, call Reece Boroughs on 8217 3935.