Catalyst Development expands City of London headquarters

13 February 2019

With demand for specialist services in asset and wealth management booming in the City of London, Catalyst Development has combined its two offices in the nation’s capital into a single head office in the financial district. The news follows a period of ambitious expansion for the consultancy, following investment from private equity investor Livingbridge.

Financial-services-focused consulting firm Catalyst Development works primarily to provide regulatory-driven change, organisational improvement and talent development programmes for global financial markets firms. Since its foundation in 1994, Catalyst has worked with more than 70 clients in over 30 financial centres worldwide, including nine out of the world’s top 12 investment banks, and has mentored more than 250 of the most senior figures in financial markets.

Financial service advisory is a hugely lucrative business at present. In 2016 alone, global banks spent about $30 billion on consultancy fees, up from $17 billion in 2008. This has provided Catalyst Development with an excellent opportunity to continue its expansion over the following years, and in Autumn 2017, this saw the financial services consultancy secure a growth investment, in the form of a management buy-out, backed by private equity investor Livingbridge.

Catalyst Development expands City of London headquarters

Since then, the firm has been working diligently to put that funding to good use. This has seen acquisitions including the purchase of management consultancy Knadel, a spree of hirings which tripled Catalyst's headcount, and the expansion of the firm’s offshore presence on the channel island of Jersey. Now, Catalyst has moved to extend that sustained period of growth into 2019, with the launch of a new head office in London.

The new headquarters sees the firm move from bases on Fleet Street and Coleman Street to 111 Old Broad Street, right at the heart of the City of London, a prime location for a financial services consultancy. This will bring over 100 banking, financial markets infrastructure, learning and development experts and asset and wealth experts together in a single location, when the move completes in mid-February. At over 7,000 square feet, it more than doubles the teams’ previous combined footprints.

Commenting on the news, Catalyst CEO Andrew Middleton said, “Client demand for our specialist services in risk, regulation, operational, business and talent development, asset and wealth management is fuelling growth… Moving to Old Broad Street brings our firm together in a fantastic location from which to service clients, attend and host key meetings and events, including our expert thought leaders series. It provides a hub where colleagues can collaborate across countries and specialisms to develop new ideas... 2019 marks Catalyst’s silver anniversary and it is exciting to celebrate 25 years of client service. This a great new home.”

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Ensuring data quality imperative for smart asset management

25 March 2019

By implementing innovative Asset Performance Management systems, utilities firms can maximise their utilisation of assets and minimise maintenance costs across their portfolio. However, according to Louis Morgan of Smart Grid Forums, without securing quality management systems for the data which smart grids rely upon, companies risk missing out on the benefits of asset performance grids.

Smart asset management presents a major opportunity to professionals across the business spectrum. In this context, a new event hosted in London is looking to help smart-grid asset management professionals meet the needs of a changing energy industry with digital asset management. The first annual Grid Asset Management event is due to take place between the 14-16th of May 2019 at the Millennium Hotel in Knightsbridge, London.

The conference will bring together leaders and experts from across Europe, in order to benchmark their digitalisation roadmaps. In a piece posted on the Smart Grid Forums website ahead of the event, Louis Morgan, a Conference Producer at Smart Grid Forums, has outlined the importance of investing in innovative asset performance technology for utilities firms, which can help ensure long-term stability for assets management in the utility sector in the face of increased complexity  .

Ensuring data quality imperative for smart asset management

Traditionally, the decision to invest in a given asset was made on the basis of an expert’s judgement of the risks posed by its failure, having typically been assessed via a risk matrix or a similar qualitative method. After that, a decision would be taken as to whether it should be replaced. However, according to Morgan, as the pace of change and complexity increases, these methods can no longer provide the required level of certainty. Uncertainty about changes to consumption patterns and load profiles brought on by the energy transition produces a vast number of possible scenarios that investment planners must consider.

As a result, Morgan explained, “utilities are seeking to support their investment decisions with quantitative risk management methods, centralising expertise from across their operations into a consistent, numerical framework that accurately captures the risk posed by all kinds of asset failure to all stakeholders.”

Companies are doing this by turning to ‘smart grid’ utility management, or systems which work to invest in the maintenance and replacement of millions of assets spread across thousands of kilometres of network. However, this is by no means a silver bullet, and in the age of the smart grid, planning ahead is more complex than ever. To ensure the long-term stability of their grids, then, utilities must deploy standardised investment decision-making practises supported by advanced modelling capabilities.

Morgan elaborated that the best way of facing this problem is through the combination of condition, utilisation, reliability and demand data. In that case, risks can be quantified in financial terms and investment budgets can target the assets posing the highest total risk, thus deferring investment in lower risk assets and optimizing the long-term budget. However, decisions informed by these risk models “will only be as good as the data and the assumptions that support them”, meaning utilities must therefore find ways to improve the volume, variety, veracity and velocity of the data they employ in their investment planning models.

“This means digitalizing asset operations, rolling out sensors and implementing systems that integrate data from a range of internal and external sources in real-time,” Morgan expanded. “Utilities must also scour their business for expertise about different assets to ensure that their risk management frameworks accurately capture the true risks posed by asset failures.”

This is in keeping with a trend which goes well beyond utilities. Business leaders of all shapes and sizes are currently having to address how they manage data quality – as poor information being input into any automated system can essentially negate the efficiencies such systems bring to the table. To this end, robust data governance is critical.

Concluding his article, Morgan said, “It is clear that there is a great deal of opportunity for utilities to obtain significant business benefits from improving their investment planning capabilities. More accurate risk management, supported by a reliable data-driven method, will deliver better financial outcomes from investment activity... But to achieve these capabilities, a lot of work must be put in to establish the systems, processes and frameworks which underlie them. Utilities must also make difficult choices about how they quantify risk and the appropriate range of data to feed into their investment planning models.”

This topic will be tackled in-depth at this year’s Grid Asset Management 2019, a conference, exhibition and networking forum aimed solely at smart grid asset management professionals.