CEO advisory community Vistage buys UK's Academy for Chief Executives

11 April 2018

The Academy for Chief Executives has been acquired by professional services firm Vistage. The partnership is aimed at growing the Vistage community of CEOs and business leaders, as the firm works to cement its position as one of the world’s top CEO organisations.

Exemplifying a trend of volatility for Chief Executive Officers, Deutsche Bank recently relieved its British boss, John Cryan, of his duties, after just three years. The move came after a boardroom battle over the firm's declining turnaround effort, with the German financial giant promoting Christian Sewing, the head of its private and commercial banking division, as the new CEO in the hope of turning around its fortunes. In line with this, the average CEO now enjoys a limited life-span of 5 years, although companies considering a change at the top to boost their firm’s performance are increasingly finding that Chief Executive turnover is not a magic bullet.

Emphasising this, one example saw nearly half the respondents from the private equity sector respond to a recent AlixPartners survey by telling the consulting firm that unplanned CEO changes actually erode financial performance. With the most drastic action available found to be damaging to companies, firms are increasingly looking to invest in leadership training and support networks to get the most from those occupying the top job.

Vistage + Academy for Chief Executives

Vistage is a CEO peer advisory organisation, aimed at working with CEOs and executive leaders who are looking to drive better decisions and better results for their companies. Vistage has over 22,000 members spread across 20 countries worldwide, who gather in confidential peer advisory groups to tackle their toughest challenges and biggest opportunities. By leveraging the Vistage platform, the group states that its members have demonstrated the ability to refine their instincts, improve their judgment, expand their perspectives and optimise decision making, while according to a 2017 study by Dun & Bradstreet, CEOs who joined Vistage grew their companies at over twice the rate of their competitors.

The Academy for Chief Executives in the UK consists primarily of UK based business leaders from companies with a minimum of £5 million in turnover and at least 20 employees. The organisation works to unlock the potential of executives by way of a trio of key resources; world class speakers and peer to peer learning with other successful business leaders, along with one on one coaching, mentoring and guidance. The deal, forged to bring the two communities together, creates a collaborative community of over 100 Chairs and 1,800 members across Britain, supported and connected by the resources and programmes of a global brand.

From Vistage’s perspective, the network will hope to advance its long-term goal of becoming the world’s most trusted resource to CEOs and key executives, by obtaining access to the Academy’s experienced Chairs, and its hundreds of successful members. Likewise, the Academy will look to leverage the deal to benefit from a wide range of events, online resources, market research, and learning and networking opportunities within Vistage.

According to Vistage CEO Sam Reese, the merger is ideal, as the organisations have a shared culture and mission statement, which was a primary driver for the acquisition. He added, “The bottom line is that we share the same goals, and have very similar principles. Our strategy must always be rooted in member value; expanding our membership with quality members and Chairs contributes richness, diversity, wisdom and added value to all in our community, both within the UK as well as globally.”

Ian Price, CEO of The Academy for Chief Executives also noted the similarity between the two businesses, before elaborating further on the Academy’s hopes for the deal. He said, “Our members… will find great added value in the Vistage platform, which will complement their current membership experience. Our Chairs will also benefit from becoming part of an enlarged, supportive community, with new opportunities to develop their skills, and from the resources that come with being part of a successful global brand.”

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SQW Group purchases property-based regeneration consultancy

19 April 2019

UK consulting firm SQW Group has completed its first acquisition since it completed a management buyout in January 2019. BBP Regeneration joins the company having collaborated with SQW for more than 20 years.

Established in 1983, SQW Group now operates all over the world. Comprising SQW, Oxford Innovation, Oxford Innovation Services – one of the UK’s leading innovation centre operators – and Oxford Investment Opportunities Network, the organisation’s origins can be traced to Britain’s two ancient university cities: Oxford, through Oxford Trust founders, Martin and Audrey Wood, and Cambridge, through SQW’s work in producing The Cambridge Phenomenon.

The consultancy specialises in public policy, working with entities from the public, private and voluntary sectors to research, develop, implement and evaluate social and economic development interventions. It now employs over 250 people across regional offices in London, Oxford and Edinburgh, and provides business support to over 4,000 entrepreneurs and small businesses each year. At the start of 2019, SQW secured its independence in a management buyout, advised on by M&A experts from Liberty Corporate Finance and Penningtons Manches.

SQW Group purchases property-based regeneration consultancy

SQW has strengthened its position as a provider of services across the business spectrum with the acquisition of BBP Regeneration. Founded in 1994, the consulting firm specialises in land and property-based regeneration and growth schemes, and is a leading social and economic development consultancy. 

The two firms first worked together over 20 years ago, when SQW and BBP collaborated to develop the first Regional Economic Strategy for the South East. More recently, they developed an economic strategy for Thanet and are now working together in locations stretching from Cwmbran via Oxfordshire to London.

With the addition of BBP, SQW can now provide an integrated advisory service for organisations developing property schemes which deliver economic benefit to their local area. By joining SQW, meanwhile, BBP hopes to further enhance its ability to support clients in delivering property and place-making ambitions. 

Speaking about the deal, SQW CEO David Crichton-Miller commented, “The UK more than ever needs solutions to the challenges of places – of high streets under threat, of meeting housing delivery targets, and of both economically over-successful and economically challenged towns and cities – and the combination of SQW and BBP is uniquely suited to developing those solutions. [This deal] brings together critical and complementary services relating to places to serve our clients with leading edge and practical advice.”

Andy Smith, Director of BBP Regeneration, added, “SQW shares with BBP the same values of seeking to provide outstanding, practical, real world advice that helps get buildings built and places developed.  We greatly look forward to the opportunities that come from joining our two organisations together.”