Tom Jones
Managing Partner
Concord Financial Advisors

During its more than 20-year track record, Concord Financial Advisors, founded by Tom Jones in Chicago, has found success living by its mission to source creative financing solutions for clients with optimal terms from lenders, resulting in significant savings of time and money.

By Markiesha Thompson

In early 2001, after working in investment banking in New York and as a lender in Chicago for the better part of 15 years, Tom Jones sketched out a plan and founded Concord Financial Advisors, a full-service debt placement firm based in the Midwest. Jones knew that if he did not take the leap of faith to start this company then, he would have always regretted not trying.

Since its founding, Concord has maintained a successful 21-year track record of assisting business borrowers with finding creative financing solutions. Maintaining a laser focus on lower to mid-market debt transactions, with around-the-clock dedication to its clients and “high touch” service, Concord has executed more than 175 transactions, raising more than $1.5 billion in senior debt for its clients across the United States. Jones says other strengths of Concord include its candidness with lenders, prospects and clients; its dedication to representing clients and finding the best financing outcomes for them; and its economical fee structure.

“As our mission statements says: We source the most creative financing solutions with optimal terms from lenders that understand our clients’ businesses, resulting in significant savings of time and money,” Jones says. Concord’s search for lenders for each deal is very targeted. Rather than casting a wide net for prospective lenders, Concord prefers to start with a small group of lenders. It then screens and qualifies these targeted lenders

Concord Yesterday

Jones originally founded Concord with a colleague from the banking industry in Chicago who was to focus on consulting projects while Jones focused on debt financing projects. But, according to Jones, the partnership dissolved due to unexpected life-changing circumstances his partner experienced. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, Jones continued to push forward and remained dedicated to pursuing capital raising with an emphasis on lower middle-market debt transactions across the United States. In the beginning, Concord mostly worked on purely contingent compensation, but it eventually transitioned to primarily rely on a retainer compensation program with its clients, Jones says, describing this decision as the “right thing to do” to show a sincere commitment from both sides of the deal.

“It also makes sure the client has ‘skin in the game’,” Jones says. “However, Concord does make exceptions in certain cases for contingency compensation deals.” Jones says he most enjoys spending his time learning about new industries, networking with commercial finance industry professionals and ensuring deals are properly executed. Jones’ colleagues refer to him as a driven, “Type A” personality and entrepreneur, characteristics that are partly a result of his focus on ensuring that all of Concord’s clients are completely satisfied and that no client walks away from a deal feeling underserved or overcharged.

Following his passion and entrepreneurial mission to start a business in the finance industry, Jones says the Concord tagline (“Knowledge, Experience, Relationships and Results”) speaks to how the company plans to continue to be valuable to clients. Concord is also looking for ways to make its processes even more efficient and easier for prospective clients, as inflation, interest rates and supply chain disruption should produce high volume ABL activity for the foreseeable future.

Concord Today

In recent years, in addition to its traditional manufacturing/distribution and business-to-business clientele, Concord has dabbled in spaces like healthcare and hospitality and has begun exploring other industries, such as cannabis, in addition to providing placement of other forms of senior and mezzanine debt transactions. Concord has also helped companies with raising equity, turnaround consulting services and other financial services, such as M&A advisory, but it mainly outsources these services to “friends of the firm” or affiliate relationships.

Concord is mostly industry agnostic with a “generalist approach” when it comes to debt deals, as the firm does cash flow and asset- based lending deals as well as distressed and non-distressed transactions. However, Concord has developed a specialty for closing turnaround ABL deals, which is when a company and an ABL group are ending their relationship or when a company resides in the special assets group of a lender. “We have several affiliate relationships with a number of institutions who can help our clients with equity raises, buy-side/sell-side acquisitions, consulting needs and whatever other financial services our clients require,” Jones says. “We simply made the decision many years ago to focus on debt financing and be really good at it and outsource everything else. We didn’t want to try to be all things to everyone.”

Concord has closed more than 90% of its retained assignments since opening in 2001. Its steady success has come with plenty of accolades over the years, including the Turnaround Management Association’s Small Transaction of the Year Award and the TMA Chicago Chapter’s Most Outstanding Member Award for Jones himself. In addition, the company closed nine deals during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sourcing its referrals from various service providers, including bankers, lawyers, accountants, consultants, sponsors, investment bankers and former colleagues, Concord looks at debt deals larger than $2 million as long as the deals “make sense” and have the potential to attract lenders, with Concord closing deals as large as $80 million historically, according to Jones.

“The best way to think of us is as ‘the debt guys’ or ‘the debt doctors’ that assist privately held companies, family offices and sponsors to find the best debt financing solution for both distressed and non-distressed situations,” Jones says.

Concord Tomorrow

With dozens of competitors locally and nationally, Jones thinks Concord’s deep expertise in the debt financing space, along with its reputation and track record, will enable it to continue to attract good companies and sponsors that it can partner with to find creative solutions for financing projects. To stay on top of the latest trends, Concord representatives regularly attend industry events to meet new players and brainstorm ideas to share with clients so the company can help them manage their businesses.

With the changing landscape in the economy and the financing industry, Concord plans to take advantage of the forthcoming cycle to further expand its network of referral sources, lenders and clients across a wider spectrum of industry sectors. Concord also plans to further embrace technology with a goal of becoming more “digitally intellectual” by engaging in more digital marketing and networking, Jones says. In addition, Concord representatives plan to attend more national and regional industry events hosted by groups like the TMA, the Secured Finance Network, the Association for Corporate Growth and other prominent industry groups. Lastly, since outsourcing is becoming a key trend across many industries, Concord may experiment with outsourcing some back-office functions.

“There have been a lot of changes in the world in the last 21 years, but the asset-based lending industry has only grown and become better,” Jones says, noting that to remain competitive in the industry, its players will need to sharpen their skill sets to maintain relevancy in an ever-evolving economy. cost-effective debt financing solution. I am especially blessed and privileged each day to continue doing what I love to do.”