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The top consulting firms and financial advisers for the education sector

A survey among buyers of consultancy services has identified the top management consulting and M&A advisory firms for the education sector. The list recognises large consultancies such as EY-Parthenon (the strategy consulting subsidiary of EY) KPMG, PwC, and boutiques with a focus on the education sector such as Cairneagle Associates and William Clarence Education.

Every year industry platform EducationInvestor organises the EducationInvestor Awards, a competition that is awarded to organisations and individuals that have made an outstanding contribution to the education sector in the past twelve months. Awards are also provided to firms and people that have done an outstanding job in promoting excellence and innovation within the industry.

Three categories look specifically at the performance of consulting firms in the sector. In the advisory and finance segment of proceedings, nominations have been handed out for the services of consultants to education institutions, and to private sector entities looking to invest in education. Meanwhile, nods were also handed out to five firms for the financial advisory category.

Top Consultancies

London headquartered Cairneagle Associates is an international strategy consultancy specialising in education, media and technology. The firm has previously been recognised with the 2015 and 2016 EducationInvestor Awards for Consultants to the Private Sector. Joining the consultancy is Carfax Projects. Founded in 2011, it provides technical and strategic support to investors, universities, governments, and inter-governmental organisations around the world.

The strategy subsidiary of Big Four firm EY also made the grade. EY-Parthenon is nominated alongside Big Four rival KPMG, and SAP consultancy Pivot. Pivot focuses primarily on digital transformation projects in the sector, while the final nominee for the category, William Clarence Education, recently announced a new partnership with educational guardianship organisation, AEGIS. The education consultancy will collaborate in order to offer new guidance for parents of international children studying in Britain.

Alongside second nominations for Cairneagle Associates, Carfax Projects and EY-Parthenon, CIL Management Consultants has also been nominated for the Consultants to the Private Sector Category. Last year, CIL was similarly noted for its achievements in the health sector, as the Health Investor Awards. The final consultancy to be nominated in the category is PwC. The firm recently announced its investment in the health technology business that has developed Perfect Ward, an online inspection tool aimed at improving quality in healthcare organisations and systems.

Financial Advisers

In the Financial Adviser category, Clearwater International, a financial advisory firm that provides services across multiple sectors, was marked out for its work. Founded in 2014, Clearwater hosts 200 employees in 15 international offices, and the business has completed over 1400 transactions, worth more than €66 billion. Alongside Clearwater, fellow nominee DC Advisory, a London-based corporate finance advisor with specific expertise in cross-border transactions, was also acknowledged.

Grant Thornton, the UK’s fifth largest auditor, received a nomination in the category as well, along with Houlihan Lokey/Quayle Munro. In January 2018, Houlihan Lokey, a global investment bank, successfully completed the acquisition of Quayle Munro, an independent advisory firm that provides corporate finance advisory services to companies underpinned by data & analytics, content, software, and services. Interestingly, QMPF, formerly known as Quayle Munro Project Finance is the final nominee in the category, having parted ways with Quayle Munro in 2014, thanks to a managerial buy-out.

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BDO Singapore: Business Excellence Advisory

(A) Business Excellence Advisory

In today’s rapidly evolving and globalised economy, enterprises are actively pursuing business sustainability and scalability to maintain long-term market competitiveness. Some companies just work – like a well-oiled machine, they function seamlessly internally by having robust processes and keeping employees engaged with their jobs. Externally, they can maintain a competitive advantage and adapt according to different economic conditions. Regardless of industry size, structure or stage of development, these are the hallmarks of sustainable enterprises that have achieved organisational excellence. If you are a business owner reading this, the more pertinent question is – where do you start?

Achieving Organisational Excellence with the Business Excellence Initiative

Organisational excellence is all about adopting a holistic approach to strengthening management systems and processes of an organisation for growth and productivity improvements. The Business Excellence initiative is driven by SPRING Singapore to help and encourage organisations in their journey towards organisational excellence by assessing and improving their performance against the requirements of internationally benchmarked organisational excellence frameworks such as:

– The Baldridge Performance Excellence Programme in the United States
– The European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Excellence Award
– The Japan Quality Award
– The Australian Business Excellence Award

As a prolific advisory service provider to enterprises seeking to achieve organisational excellence and to prepare for the Singapore Quality Class (SQC) recognition by SPRING Singapore, BDO’s Business Excellence Advisory service helps business owners to identify organisational gaps and impart insights on industry best practices to improve the organisation. Our proprietary methodology is rooted in SPRING’s Business Excellence Framework and is focused on understanding your organisational needs thoroughly before designing a recommendation roadmap to address the identified gaps in the organisation.

Our Business Excellence Advisory service covers the seven (7) essential areas of an organisation, including:

– Leadership, which focuses on your commitment and involvement in setting clear directions and goals, as well as sustaining clear and unique corporate values in your organisation
– People, which focuses on how your organisation taps the full potential of the workforce, emphasising on human resource strategies, training and development, employee satisfaction and performance recognition
– Customers, which focuses on how your organisation determines and fulfils changing customer requirements and improves customer satisfaction
– Processes, which focuses on how your organisation manages and seek continuous improvements of essential processes in the organisation
– Knowledge, which focuses on the collection, management and analysis of information to improve and support decision-making at all levels of the organisation
– Strategy, which focuses on how you drive your organisation’s strategy development and ensure proper implementation of action plans to achieve your organisational goals
– Results, which focus on how you track your organisation’s performance in key areas such as financial and market results, people results, customer results and operational results

With such a list of broad areas to look at, we at BDO strive to provide bespoke solutions that best fit your organisation, by working closely with the management in prioritising changes that are urgent, impactful and specific to your enterprise.

An organisation anchored on the foundations of Business Excellence will provide you with the confidence of maintaining business resiliency and catalysing sustainable growth in the long run.

(B) Strategy Innovation and Transformation

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” ~ Peter Drucker

Growth is hard. Trusted business models run out of steam. Disruptive start-ups appear from nowhere. Organisations which have previously excelled at doing what made them successful have now become victims of their own success.

We help organisations grow by defining and focusing on their core. We see things that others miss, offering you insights and solutions accumulated from deep experience and intimate industry knowledge to create more value for your business. We work collaboratively, building lasting capabilities to help your organisation mobilise for change. We define our success by your results. Together, we help you design and create your future. At BDO, we are committed to partner with you in the following areas for business transformation:

Innovation and Growth

Innovation is critical to growth, but most organisations fall short. Organisations understand the importance of innovation, but they fail when it comes to its execution. We define innovation as seeing things in a new light, helping our clients gain valuable insights into transforming their organisation and boosting performance. We support our clients to develop a clear innovative strategy to meet their business and strategic objectives through identification of gaps between where they are and where they want to be. We work with our clients to identify areas of their businesses that are ripe for innovation through a proven 10-point framework, and we can support them in rapid business-case prototyping and development to transform ideas into reality.

Organisational Transformation

Business model lifecycles are shrinking across industries, creating an imperative to innovate to remain relevant in the increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. Future success often hinges on the rethinking of the current business model by defining and redefining compelling customer value propositions and supporting it with a viable, profitable and efficient operating model. Whether seeking to drive breakout growth, reinvigorate a lagging core, or defend against industry disruption or decline, management needs to ask themselves: Can our existing business model continue to win?

Resource Planning

Highly successful organisations are consistent and dynamic resource planners and allocators. They are resilient towards change, adaptability and value creation, particularly in uncertain economic times. Most organisations are slow to allocate resources to the right areas in the business. Every year, they stick to the same processes for strategy development, capital budgeting and talent management with marginal improvements from the year before, if at all. Quoting Albert Einstein, “Madness is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.”

We help clients to design an effective strategic resource planning and budgeting processes to overcome the inertia that hinders organisational growth. We utilise tools and techniques to help organisations challenge the status quo and overcoming obstacles in the way of dynamic organisational renewal. To us, winning is not the end goal. Sustaining the business is the ultimate key to success.

Strategy Design and Management

Organisations often struggle with their strategy, and it can be challenging to reconcile the need for short-term returns with long-term strategic goals. It is even more challenging to build the capabilities required to achieve both short- and long-term goals. We help organisations enhance and strengthen their strategy development processes and assist clients with solutions to specific strategic issues or design a whole new approach to their organisational strategy.

We can provide guidance on strategic issues, including processes for successful strategic planning and advice on implementation with the executive team. Each organisation is different with varying contexts and divergent challenges, and, to support the team, we develop bespoke solutions tailored to each organisation’s culture, organisational structure, processes and results desired. Hence, being different is our unique motto and commitment to our clients.