AIM has dominated as one of the most successful growth markets in the world, helping smaller and emergent companies raise the capital they need for expansion.
The recent Moore Stephen’s AIM survey asked professional advisers (brokers, accountants, lawyers) and directors of listed companies if AIM does in-fact still retain its peerless reputation.
The survey was carried out between 17 January and 9 February 2018.
Growing companies come to AIM, primarily to raise capital (84%) but also to harness the benefits it awards for reputation and profile (60%).
It is still a market that is performing well – asked to score AIM’s performance over the last 12 months on a scale of 1 to 5 (where 5 is most positive), 60% of all respondents awarded a score of 4 or 5.
There is also a sense of optimism around AIM’s likely performance over the next 12 months. Directors lead the impression of positivity – perhaps a reflection of the growth in equity capital market valuations over the last 24 months.
Moore Stephens also asked about the perceived performance of companies (UK and international) listed on AIM. The overall response to this was upbeat: 86% think their company is well positioned to increase revenue over the next 12 months. Advisers are slightly less confident, but still optimistic, with 71% expecting the companies they advise to increase revenues.
How successful is it for SMEs?
AIM has offered a thriving market for SMEs, supporting their development – but does it still offer the same levels of success?
For this question, there was a split between the responses from company respondents and advisers.
Advisers were themselves divided – 47% of them think AIM is the world’s most successful growth market for SMEs, while 44% think it isn’t. Only 9% say they don’t know.
In contrast, 47% of companies don’t know, while only a third think AIM is the most successful growth market for SMEs.
Given that it is the companies that are listed on AIM and appear to be benefiting from it, their relative reluctance to declare AIM to be the best is striking.
Completing an IPO
Advisers gave their lowest average score (2.65) to the ease of completing an IPO (Initial Public Offering) on AIM. There has been a decline in the number of IPOs on AIM relative to its peak years.
Decline in Companies?
The total number of AIM listed companies has continued to fall year-on-year since 2007.
Respondents thought this was a consequence of tougher AIM Regulation, as new market entrants are effectively rejected on the grounds of unsuitability.
The removal of smaller companies is not necessarily always seen as a negative though, it can act as a preventative – reducing the prospect of failure due to unproven business plans. More stringent filters can also increase confidence in the remaining AIM companies and resultant share price benefits.
Why do companies delist from AIM?
- Too costly to maintain the listing status
- Tightening of regulations
- Difficulty to raise further funds
- Lack of liquidity
- Poor share price performance
How could AIM be improved?
- Greater transparency of regulation to highlight unwritten or ‘soft’ rules that AIM may apply
- Increased empathy towards growth companies
- Improved communication
- Reduced costs to enable companies to stay in long enough to attract the further investment they were hoping to obtain
AIM remains a successful market and has strong appeal for growing domestic and international companies, enticed by the prospect of accessing new capital.
The Moore Stephens survey did highlight some important concerns though amongst companies and advisers – particularly around the current regulatory approach.
Split opinion around AIM’s more stringent regulations, to effect reduced likelihood of company failure, enhanced reputation and potentially shareholder value is ultimately a difficult one to address. There may also be a need for greater transparency around the rules, but as a divided outlook illustrates, finding the right regulatory stance is a difficult balancing act.