Why haven’t more firms embraced advisory services?

The revenue opportunity in advisory work is huge, and it’s more sustainable as a business. But the number of firms that have successfully achieved this holy grail is still very small: Arguably, only 5 to 15 percent have even come close).

One of the major problems is that ‘advisory’ is an extremely poorly defined concept. What it actually means in practice varies hugely depending on who is offering it and who is receiving it. And if you don’t know what it’s going to look like in the end, how do you even start trying to deliver it?

The good news is that it’s actually pretty simple, and most accountants already have the necessary skills and knowledge. It is, however, a question of mindset. This interview between Andy North and Peter Hickey, Founder and President of MAUS, offers some brilliantly simple words of advice.

Being an “advisor” is more about the questions you ask than the answers you provide. “Think of yourself as a sports coach,” says Peter. The goals you’re trying to achieve should be set by your client – and your objective is to help them break them down and hold them accountable.

And what tips does Peter have for the accountant struggling to make sense of all this? “Start with succession planning.” The conversations you can have with a client as they start to consider their exit from their business can create clear opportunities for you to help.

Accenture acquires award-winning global advisory firm

Accenture has acquired Parker Fitzgerald, a strategic advisor and consulting partner to leading global financial institutions, further enhancing the business and technology capabilities within its Finance and Risk practice. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 2008 in response to the global financial crisis, Parker Fitzgerald advises financial services companies on financial and non-financial risk, regulation and financial technology. The firm provides strategic advice, independent assurance and market-leading solutions to help clients navigate risks, reduce operational complexity and improve their overall risk-adjusted performance.

Parker Fitzgerald’s advisory and assurance expertise and regulatory experience will complement Accenture’s consulting and technology capabilities and strengthen Accenture’s client response to the evolving risk landscape in financial services.

“Financial services companies continue to contend with the impact of economic and geopolitical uncertainties, regulatory challenges and digital transformation,” said Tara Brady, who leads Accenture’s Financial Services practice in the UK “Parker Fitzgerald has a successful track record helping clients navigate ever-increasing disruption and uncertainty, and the combination of their risk advisory and assurance expertise with Accenture’s consulting and digital capabilities will be a strong differentiator, enhancing our services to UK financial institutions.”

Scott Vincent, founder and CEO of Parker Fitzgerald said, “Helping clients optimise their performance in a rapidly evolving risk environment remains our utmost priority. Accenture’s tremendous scale and scope, coupled with their data- and technology-focused expertise in finance and risk, will enable us to expand our geographic reach and provide high-quality services to an even-broader client base.”

Peter Beardshaw, who leads Accenture’s Financial & Risk practice in the UK, said, “Parker Fitzgerald’s skills, approach to financial risk management and long-standing regulatory relationships are at the heart of the risk management agenda and will enable us to provide clients with an even greater level of risk and assurance services and solutions.”

About Accenture

Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialised skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions — underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network — Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With 482,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives.

Grant Thornton sells advisory business to 1825

The wealth unit, which has £1.7bn of assets under advice, consists of 100 employees, including 34 financial planners, all of whom will be joining 1825.

The deal, which has been rumoured for a few weeks, is reportedly an attempt by Grant Thornton to distance itself from potential conflicts of interest, and to “streamline its focus”.

Dave Dunckley, the recently appointed CEO of Grant Thornton UK, said, “As we increase our focus on our strategy to provide high quality audit, tax and advisory services to our core markets, it is clear the wealth advisory team’s growth potential would be best delivered by a business focused solely on the financial advice market.

“The team’s clients will undoubtedly be better served through 1825’s approach and proposition, with the businesses sharing a natural alignment in values and goals, so it makes practical sense for the team to be in an environment in which it can flourish. We wish Neil [Messenger] and the team continued success into the future.”

In the wake of proposals from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), and from the Kingman review, the accountancy profession in the UK is under increasingly sharp scrutiny. Grant Thornton in particular has come in for criticism over its audit work on Patisserie Valerie.

Last week the firm announced a major overhaul of its audit arm. The changes include a new Audit Quality Board, a £7m investment in people and technology, an independent review of audit at the firm, and new centres of excellence in London and Birmingham.

The deal is expected to be completed in Q4, 2019 and the terms remain undisclosed.

Allens advises on Ravenhall Prison Project refinancing

Allens has advised The GEO Consortium on their successful refinancing of the Ravenhall Prison Public-Private Partnership (PPP), by way of a long-term US Private Placement.

The Ravenhall Prison Project was designed and built and is being maintained and operated by the GEO Consortium under a public private partnership arrangement involving The GEO Group Australia, Capella Capital, GEO Care, Honeywell, John Holland and Forensicare, among others.

Allens has advised the GEO Consortium throughout the lifecycle of the Project, since the original bid for the development of the asset in 2013.

Work on the original transaction saw Allens recognised at the 2014 and 2018 Infrastructure Partnerships Australia Awards, winning the ‘Advisory Excellence’ and ‘Project of the Year’ categories, respectively.

‘While the transaction continues a trend for operating PPP projects accessing the US private placement market for longer term debt funding, it’s the first custodial prison in Australia to access that market,’ said Partner and Head of Project Finance, Michael Ryan.

‘The Ravenhall Prison Project is a great example of our team’s ability to service our clients as their needs evolve over the entire life of a project,’ added Partner and Head of Infrastructure, David Donnelly.

‘We’ve been there from Day 1 – through the bid, construction and commissioning phases and now as the project transitions to steady a state of operation with an accompanying long-term debt solution,’ David concluded.

Audax Private Equity announces recapitalisation of the Chartis Group

Audax Private Equity (“Audax”) today announced that it has recapitalised, in partnership with management, The Chartis Group, LLC (“Chartis” or the “Company”). Headquartered in Chicago, IL, and previously a portfolio company of RLH Equity Partners, Chartis is a leading provider of advisory consulting and software analytics to hospitals, health systems, and other healthcare organisations around the world. Founded in 2001, Chartis’ mission is to materially improve the delivery of healthcare by providing thought leadership, advisory, innovation, and analytics services to healthcare organisations. The Chartis management team will continue to lead the Company and, together with the Chartis consultants and employees, maintain a significant ownership position.

Ken Graboys, Chief Executive Officer of Chartis, said, “We are excited to partner with Audax and for the opportunity it provides us to continue to achieve meaningful growth and expand our impact on global healthcare. Audax brings the resources and capital to support the growth of our next generation of practice offerings, and to make strategic acquisitions.”

Young Lee, Managing Director at Audax, said, “Chartis has earned an outstanding reputation in the healthcare consulting industry demonstrated by the transformational results delivered to clients, extraordinarily talented people, and strong firm culture. We are excited to join the team as they continue to build on this success.”

Tim Mack, Managing Director at Audax, said, “We look forward to partnering with the Chartis team as they continue to provide innovation and improvements for healthcare systems, and pursue strategic add-on acquisitions and partnerships.”

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Lincoln International LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor and Winston & Strawn LLP served as legal counsel to Chartis. Ropes & Gray LLP served as counsel to Audax.

About the Chartis Group

The Chartis Group (“Chartis”) provides comprehensive advisory services and analytics to the healthcare industry. With expertise in strategic planning, performance excellence, informatics and technology, and health analytics, Chartis helps leading academic medical centers, integrated delivery networks, children’s hospitals and healthcare service organisations achieve transformative results. Chartis has offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York, Minneapolis, Portland and San Francisco. For more information, visit https://www.chartis.com/

About Audax Private Equity

Audax Group is a leading alternative investment manager with offices in Boston, New York, and San Francisco. Since its founding in 1999, the firm has raised over $24 billion in capital across its Private Equity and Private Debt businesses. Audax Private Equity has invested over $5 billion in more than 125 platforms and 770 add-on companies. Through its disciplined Buy & Build approach, Audax seeks to help platform companies execute add-on acquisitions that fuel revenue growth, optimise operations, and significantly increase equity value. With more than 240 employees and over 100 investment professionals, the firm is a leading capital partner for North American middle market companies. For more information, visit the Audax Group website https://www.audaxgroup.com/

CBRE - Advisory Excellence

CBRE to establish national agribusiness practice

Clay Dodd has been named director of valuation and advisory services at CBRE Group, Inc. in Minneapolis. CBRE is a commercial real estate services and investment firm offering a broad range of integrated services, including facilities, transportation and project management.

In his new role, Dodd will help CBRE establish a national agribusiness practice.

Throughout his 25 years as a fee appraiser, Dodd has appraised many grain elevators, including country, shuttle train, river and port elevators. He also has appraised many flour mills, including hard, soft and durum mills. Other assignments include ethanol plants, soybean crushing plants, bio diesel plants, corn mills (wet), oat mills, malt plants, feed mills (dedicated and commercial), seed plants, specialty mills, dairy processing plants, fruit and vegetable processing plants, meat processing plants, pasta plants, canneries, dry mix plants and general food processing plants.

He received a bachelor’s of science degree from Saint Cloud State University in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, US.