Financial services consultancies Catalyst and Sionic join forces

10 April 2019 3 min. read
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A cross-Atlantic deal brokered between two UK and US based firms is set to create one of the world’s largest specialist consultancies. Catalyst, which has recently been expanding its capacity with a campaign of acquisitions, will join forces with Sionic Advisors to forge a company of over 300 people, catering to clients from the financial services sector of three continents.

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. In Autumn 2017, the firm secured a growth investment, in the form of a management buy-out, backed by private equity investor Livingbridge. Since then, the firm has purchased management consultancy Knadel, tripled its headcount, and expanded its offshore presence on the channel island of Jersey, as well as its London headquarters.

Now, Catalyst has moved to extend that sustained period of growth into 2019, with the confirmation that it will merge with Sionic Advisors, a US consultancy also serving the financial services sector. Headquartered in New Jersey, the firm was founded in 2014, and has since grown to host 160 professionals with offices in New York, Toronto, London, Madrid, Zurich, Singapore, Stockholm, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore. It specialises in numerous service lines, including among others; financial crime and compliance, client lifecycle management, and strategic technology, with technology alliances with several market-leading partners.

Financial services consultancies Catalyst and Sionic join forces

The deal comes at a time when mounting regulatory demands and transformation work in financial services is booming, amid major changes in the sector. This saw global spending on financial services consulting in 2018 hit $38 billion, having exploded from $17 billion in 2008. The merger is aimed at creating an entity large and diverse enough to meet the ever-shifting needs of clients in the market. Following the joining of forces, the combined group will command a revenue of over $60 million and a staff base of more than 300 professionals, from locations across North America, Europe and Asia.

The deal was backed by private equity firm Livingbridge, a mid-market private equity firm with offices in the UK, the US and Australia, investing in fast growing companies valued up to £200 million. The merged business will now work to accelerate its growth of ‘specialism at scale’ in response to client demand.

Commenting on the move, Catalyst Group CEO, Andrew Middleton, said, “Sionic has highly regarded expertise in our core banking market, enabling us to scale our delivery of complex assignments for clients worldwide, and a lead position in the US and Canada. Catalyst has a lead position in London and both offshore and nearshore offices, along with specialist asset and wealth management expertise, an international track record in people, talent and change and a global track record of developing financial markets infrastructure for clearing houses and exchanges.”

Sionic Co-Founder and Group CEO, Craig Sher, added, “This is a perfect match. We’re known as experts in our field and as fast-growth disruptors of outdated models of consultancy. Like Catalyst, we deliver measurable value and best in class change services in control and governance, regulatory change, operations, risk, finance and technology. We’re looking forward to working together to expand our services and reach to create an even bigger and better firm for our clients, staff and investors alike.”