Financial services consultancies Catalyst and Sionic join forces

10 April 2019

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.”

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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.”