BIP CEO Carlo Capè on Chaucer and the firm's global ambitions

10 August 2020 6 min. read
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In July, BIP significantly ramped up its presence in the UK with the addition of Chaucer. sat down for an exclusive interview with Carlo Capè, CEO of the major Italian consultancy to learn more about the deal, closing a deal in the times of coronavirus and Brexit, and the future of the consulting industry.

Hi Carlo, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Could you start by telling us more about BIP?

Thank you, and of course. BIP was founded in Italy in 2003 and is one of the world’s fastest growing global consultancy firms. We have a focus on strategy, operations and technology – from CIO advisory to digital transformation – the key to the development of the 21st century economy, world and society. We have also strong expertise in telecoms & media, energy & utilities, financial services, life sciences and the public sector.

We are an ambitious, youthful firm of 3,300 employees, including Chaucer, and you can find us in 12 countries across 4 continents. In 2018, the French private equity firm, Apax Partners, invested over €200 million in our company to accelerate our international growth, which is our major strategic objective. We closed 2019 with revenues of over €230 million, and expect to close this year with revenues of €350 million, including Chaucer.

Carlo Capè, CEO of BIP

Why did you partner with Chaucer?

In less than 20 years, BIP has become one of Europe’s top consulting firms. As we build on this, and look to grow internationally, we are always looking for innovative firms to partner with. Chaucer is an agile and progressive company at the cutting edge of digital transformation consultancy. It also has real expertise in the life science, oil & gas, public and more niche sectors, which gives a real synergy with our industry, and digital and technology expertise.

We only look to invest in the very best as we grow around the world and augment our portfolio. Chaucer certainly fits that bill, with offices in London, New York and Houston, and 350 impressive and enthusiastic employees.

How did the investment come about?

Chaucer was looking for a strong partner to support them in their next phase of growth. They kicked this process off in 2019, and went through a competitive process in search for a new partner pretty much at the same time as we were looking to expand our footprint. Both companies want to grow even further and with this deal they can support each other in doing so.

Why is international growth so important to you?

We are an ambitious challenger firm. Our ultimate aim at BIP is to become the consultancy of choice for our clients, who are mainly multinational companies and need to be supported globally. Therefore, we want to become one of the world’s top consulting companies and grow the business in all corners of the world, diversifying our portfolio and our offering of services.

We have taken some big steps towards this goal in recent years, opening offices in countries like Brazil, Spain, the USA, Chile, Colombia, the UAE and Turkey but our partnership with Chaucer is the most significant investment in our global expansion journey.

Did you not want to hit the pause button on your “most significant” step, taking place, as it has, during a global pandemic the like of which hasn’t been seen for a century?

The virus did not directly affect our partnership with Chaucer. We hope this deal is a sign of our faith in the resilience of the management consultancy sector, and of the British economy. We obviously do not know the future effects of the virus and the economic crisis it has caused. However, we believe it will speed up widespread digital transformation, which was already well underway, and will push a restructuring of the major industries value chains, where consulting companies will have an important role, especially ones with global reach. Our partnership with Chaucer therefore puts us in pole position to help firms deal with it, and to turn it from a challenge into a real opportunity.

You’re sanguine about the effects of coronavirus, but are you worried about Brexit? It still hasn’t been resolved, and there could be a lot more uncertainty for the UK economy coming down the tracks.

We want to be a global company, not just European. Therefore, the UK and the USA are key for our clients, despite Brexit – or even, I’d say, because of Brexit. In fact, Europe is shrinking and we have to look at a global reach. The UK is a stable, established market for us, with a fundamentally sound economy. The UK also has robust prospects for growth once the virus has passed, as confirmed by the OECD at the start of June.

“We are an ambitious challenger firm. Our ultimate aim is to become one of the 30 largest consultancies in the world and the provider of choice for our clients.”
– Carlo Capè, CEO of BIP

Why did you choose the UK as the location for such a significant investment?

One mustn’t forget that the UK is one of the pre-eminent services powerhouses on earth. 80% of the British economy is made up of services – it is the gleaming jewel in the crown of the UK economy - and the consulting industry accounts for more than twice what it does in Italy in terms of GDP (0.5% against Italy’s 0.2%).

Moreover, London is a European hub for digital technology, our area of expertise, and has some an incredibly talented workforce. We felt the time was right to partner with an impressive and progressive firm like Chaucer, and one that had a strong base in the USA, another key market.

As you will be aware, there is a big debate in the consultancy sector at the moment about splitting auditing and advisory teams. What you think of this? Is it a good idea?

We actually have a unique view on this, as you could say we saw this coming a long time ago and were the trailblazers! We were formed from the split of a consultancy firm’s accounting and consulting teams in Italy in 2003, when the Big Four had to sell the consulting services to ICT companies. Now they have created their consulting services again, so splitting the teams, as has been legally mandated for the Big Four in the UK by 2024, will probably be the best solution.

How do you then see the future of the consultancy sector?

The consulting sector will be growing in the next three years for three reasons: its prominent role in the economy restart after Covid-19; being an enabler for digital transformation; and its support for mega trends in some industries, like the clean energy transition, media and telecoms convergence, open banking and open insurance, retail multichannel and many others.

For this reason, BIP will continue in its build-up strategy, in order to enter the ranks of the 30 largest consultancies in the world.