Deloitte Consulting buys asset management consultancy Casey Quirk

22 July 2016

Deloitte has acquired Connecticut-based Casey Quirk, a management consultancy specialised in the asset management industry. The Casey Quirk partners and team will transition to Deloitte Consulting and will operate under the ‘Casey Quirk by Deloitte’ brand.

Founded by consulting veteran John Casey* and Kevin Quirk, Casey Quirk today serves a majority of the world’s 50 largest asset managers – according to the firm’s website, its client roster includes 70% of the world’s 25 largest asset managers. Over the past period the firm has seen strong growth: the Connecticut headquartered consultancy more than doubled its staff to around 50 in the space of three years and opened further offices in Hong Kong and New York.

“Joining Deloitte is an optimal choice to help us maintain our tremendous growth,” comments Yariv Itah, Managing Partner of Casey Quirk. “We also believe this creates a superior career platform for our talented team.”

The joining of forces with Deloitte Consulting – with more than 23,000 professionals globally the world’s largest management consulting firm according to ALM Intelligence – will allow both firms to better address “evolving and complex challenges including globalisation, innovation, competition, and, most importantly, shifts in investor requirements,” states Joe Guastella, US Financial Services Consulting leader at Deloitte Consulting.

Deloitte Consulting buys asset management consultancy Casey Quirk

According to a recent study by Willis Towers Watson, the globe’s 500 largest asset managers have around $78 trillion of assets under management, but, across the landscape, several trends are making a growing impact. Among the developments highlighted are challenges such as fee pressure, industry consolidation, technology disruption and increased regulation. Another major development is the rise of alternative assets, which is eating a growing share of the market, and is forecasted to reach $15.3 trillion by 2020, found PwC in another report. 

Building on the expertise of both parties, Guastella says that Casey Quirk by Deloitte will be to help asset management organisations navigate through the choppy waters, providing them with an “end-to-end suite of consulting services”, from strategy through operational execution. “This combination provides an unparalleled value proposition to the marketplace,” adds Quirk. 

The combined entity will compete with similar practices of the other Big Four, specialised players such as Alpha FMC, and the asset management advisory units of investment firms and banks, among others.

String of acquisitions
The pickup of Casey Quirk is the latest in a string of strategic acquisitions Deloitte Consulting has made in recent years. This year the business advisory bought French IT consultancy Cleversys, while last year the Big Four closed more than ten consulting deals, including Kaisen Consulting (UK and US), life science compliance firm CIS (US), LRA Worldwide (US), as well as FCTB and Indicia Talent & Performance (both in the Netherlands). A few years back, early 2013, Deloitte Consulting closed one of the largest acquisitions in the history of its Consulting business, when it purchased Monitor, a strategy consultancy with at the time around 1,200 consultants (today ‘Monitor Deloitte’).

* Over the course of more than four decades in asset management John Casey founded consulting firms such as Rogers, Casey & Associates and Barra Strategic Consulting Group (the predecessor to Casey Quirk). In August 2015 he transitioned to the role of senior advisor and passed on the chairmanship of Casey Quirk to co-founder Kevin Quirk.


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Accenture's push into the creative sector is an identity crisis

18 April 2019

In its latest push into the creative sector, Accenture Interactive acquired New York and London-based ad agency Droga5 earlier this month, adding illustrious clients such as HBO, Amazon and The New York Times to its roster of clients. With the latest in a long line of similar purchases, Accenture Interactive further demonstrated its ambition of becoming the globe’s leading trusted advisor to chief marketing officers. Yet according to Ben Langdon, Chairman of Class35, Accenture’s strategy may be heading in the wrong direction.

A press release on Accenture’s website announcing the acquisition sits next to a quote stating that “brands aren’t built through advertising” – a huge contradiction from a consultancy firm hell-bent on becoming the ‘CMO agency of choice’. It’s not alone of course. The entire consulting industry wants a piece of the creative pie right now. In addition to Accenture Interactive, recent acquisitions by PwC Digital, IBM iX, and Deloitte Digital meant that in 2017, for the first time ever, four of the world’s ten largest creative agencies were consultancies.

So just what it is that Accenture wants to achieve from this? For one thing, it’s clearly trying to be a digital transformation business. A one-stop creative shop rivalling more traditional models, it wants to lure CMOs in with the promise of lower ad spend and a “more impactful customer experience”. At the same time, though, it’s still in thrall to those same slinky, shiny branding and advertising agencies it’s attempting to disrupt. The Droga5 acquisition and that of Karmarama a few years before are both testament to this.

There’s a fundamental problem with this, though. Digital transformation businesses don’t sell to CMOs. These people have enough on their plates trying to transform their own marketing skills in order to keep up with an ever-changing market – they just don’t have the time or the energy to concern themselves with digitally transforming a whole business. If Accenture’s purpose is digital transformation, then going after creative agencies is barking up the wrong tree.Is Accenture's push into the creative sector an identity crisis?

Worlds apart

Perhaps more importantly, these two industries are worlds apart in terms of the way they think. Creative agencies are all about ideas, campaigns and consumers. Digital businesses, on the other hand, are customer-driven – they think in terms such as lifetime value, measurement, and efficiency. Customer-led thinking is an entirely different beast to consumer-led thinking.

The reality is that the arrival of digital and an all-encompassing obsession with technology, measurement and social has led to the death of agencies in a reductive, zero-sum, efficiency-focused battle with brands. Indeed, agencies have become so obsessed with the latest tech fads, they’re beginning to forget how brands work. Worse still, they’re beginning to forget how brands are built. And, by forgetting, they’re destroying their own values.

Killing creativity

All things considered, it really feels to me as though Accenture is a chip leader in a game it doesn’t understand. Expensive acquisitions like these show that they’ve got the big money, but they don’t appear to have any idea what they’re doing with it. Take talent, for example. The best talent in the creative industry right now is out in the market; it’s not tied to any one agency. Both agencies might well be at the top of their game, but why would a consulting firm waste so much money on buying them when they could hire high-quality creative talent on a contingent basis instead?

As their presence in the top 10 creative agencies shows, there is a growing trend in which Accenture, like many of the other big players, are buying up agencies as if they were nothing more than keywords. What they’re really buying, though, is a collection of credentials, clients and IP. Unfortunately, the talent that created those credentials aren’t going to stay at the business, the clients that hired the agency in the first place won’t be interested in buying what is basically just another part of Accenture, and the IP never really existed to begin with.

Droga5, for example, was one of the few agencies that did great brand work the old-fashioned way – undoubtedly something that made it attractive to Accenture in the first place. The irony, though, is that by leading it further away from the way of working that made it so special, the consulting giant will kill its creativity.

“Accenture Interactive has been dazzled by its ambitions to become the CMO agency of record…. But, in flashing its cash, it is spending millions on acquiring nothing of any value.”

If pressed, the recently acquired agency staff at Accenture will tell you just how dysfunctional the new arrangement is. They’re largely unfulfilled. Rarely do they feel their work has any sort of meaning or purpose. What’s more, the different disciplines have found little or no common ground, and find it hard to work together as a cohesive whole. It’s not surprising, then, to see talented people leaving in droves.

Beyond the window dressing 

It’s clear, then, that consulting firms and creative agencies are no easy bedfellows. But in his company’s defence, Accenture Interactive’s Senior Managing Director for North America, Glen Hartman, described its culture as being “far, far away from what a stereotypical consulting firm would look like. Our office and studios look a lot like Droga5’s.”

In demonstrating a belief that office design equates to workplace culture, this statement serves as an illustration of how confused Accenture is right now. It wants to justify its new strategy so badly, it’s started dressing like a creative agency. But if you look beyond the window dressing and see that you and your partners are speaking a different language with a different purpose, selling to different people in a different market, there’s no getting away from the fact that you’re different.

Accenture Interactive has been dazzled by its ambitions to become the CMO agency of record, and it wants to dazzle others with its new direction. But, in flashing its cash, it is spending millions on acquiring nothing of any value.

Related: Space between consulting firms and creative agencies is converging.