New analysis from ALM Intelligence Pacesetter Research found that while the number of M&A deals have declined since 2021, deals are becoming increasingly complex and require more long-term support from legal teams. The decline in deal volume is forcing professional services providers to respond to very different client needs as investors become more risk-averse and stakeholders demand greater clarity in deal investment narratives.

This research assessed dozens of providers to arrive at twenty-four providers identified as Innovators for their ability to deliver client impact in today’s ever-shifting (and very crowded) M&A markets. Additionally, the research and analysis provide insights into the competitive dynamics and service delivery trends driving convergence across insurance, investment banking, legal, management consulting, and multi-service providers.

Research Highlights

  • 2021 was in most ways a record-breaking year for M&A – which means that nobody should expect 2022 to top it (and it isn’’t), but all indications are that deal activity will remain steady and professional services pipelines full well into 2023, and beyond
  • With plenty of geopolitical, economic and social volatility headwinds, deals in 2022 (even compared to just 2021) are becoming more complex
  • With rising interest rates and other market factors, capital is more expensive, liquidity in exits reduced, making valuations more difficult to justify
  • These trends have pushed investors (both private and even some strategic) to focus more on the longer term with acquisition targets, looking past Day One to find ways to ensure they receive the full value laid out in the deal thesis over the target’s full lifecycle
  • This, in turn, has accelerated a trend among innovative professional services providers whereby they are pivoting their service focus away from the transactional side of deals – deploying technology to the most commoditized parts of transaction services – while partnering with clients to ensure they realize full deal value   

What Makes An ALM Intelligence M&A Services Pacesetter & Innovator?

Investors are now thinking about assets differently, looking past the transaction and focusing on ensuring they can realize the full value promised in the deal thesis. The evolving investor focus means their attention is now turning towards managing the financial and operational performance and risk profiles of their acquired assets over the entire lifecycle of the asset and their portfolio. For all this, they are looking for help from professional services providers, which is forcing innovators among providers into new client engagement models. These companies have been identified as Innovators for their ability to deliver client impact in today’s ever-shifting (and very crowded) M&A markets.

The 2022 M&A Services Innovators & Pacesetters

  • Allens
  • Alvarez & Marsal
  • Ankura
  • Bain & Company
  • BDO
  • BearingPoint
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • Copper Run
  • Crowe
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • Fusion
  • Goodwin Procter
  • Herbert Smith Freehills
  • Kearney
  • KPMG
  • L.E.K.
  • McKinsey & Company
  • Mercer
  • OC&C
  • PwC
  • Ropes & Gray
  • The Ince Group
  • Willis Towers Watson

The 2021 M&A Services Innovators & Pacesetters

  • Alvarez & Marsal
  • Ankura
  • Bain & Company
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • Chubb
  • Crowe
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • FTI Consulting
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Goodwin Procter
  • JP Morgan
  • KPMG
  • LEK
  • Lockton
  • McKinsey
  • Mercer
  • North Highland
  • Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt
  • PwC
  • West Monroe Partners

the methodology

The goal of ALM Pacesetter Research is to help buyers of professional services navigate an increasingly complex landscape with confidence. We use a multidisciplinary perspective to identify best-in-class providers of legal, consulting, financial, insurance, employee benefits, and other professional services and analyze how they are evolving as an ecosystem of interdisciplinary service providers. Our research is grounded in over 50 years of accumulated market insights and qualitative research models that combine knowledge of management science with case studies and other sources of knowledge to understand patterns of market supply, demand, behavior, and ways of doing business. Our research also includes voices/perspectives from both the sellside and buyside, as well as knowledgeable people working in industry associations, academia, etc.

  • The ALM Pacesetter Advisory Council (PAC) convenes in advance of the research project kick-off; members include ALM journalists and editors, and external experts such as consultants, general counsel, and industry thought leaders

  • The PAC selects the set of Innovators that will be covered in the research topic from a larger group of providers that members have identified in the normal course of their work

  • PAC members also provide expert knowledge and insights to the ALM Pacesetter team throughout the research and analysis process

  • The ALM Pacesetter Team within ALM Intelligence conducts primary and secondary research

  • Primary research includes in-depth interviews with practice leaders at the provider firms covered in the research; satisfaction interviews with clients referred by those providers; and in-depth interviews with thought leaders, recruiting professionals, and other sources

  • Secondary research includes data gathered from annual reports and earnings calls, management presentations, public filings, case studies, press releases, journals and publications, online information databases and other publicly available resources

  • Innovators that achieve a Pacesetter Impact Score equal to or over 85 are designated as ALM Pacesetters

  • Pacesetter analysts map markets and stakeholders and write market trends

  • Market segment overviews are peer reviewed by the appropriate PAC member

Service providers are evaluated and scored based on five core criteria

Business Model

Provider’s ability to reposition core competencies around new products, services, and business models to adapt to shifting patterns of market supply, demand, behavior, and ways of doing business.

Value Proposition

Provider’s ability to deliver on its value proposition, i.e., the positioning statement that communicates the benefits and economic value a prospect will receive by purchasing the provider’s products and services over a competitor’s.

Service Delivery

Provider’s ability to mobilize resources and configure assets to serve clients.

Client Impact

Provider’s ability to help clients affect continuous, sustainable change, mitigate risk, improve performance, and achieve growth.

Brand Eminence

Provider’s ability to leverage brand and marketing strategies to differentiate in its marketplace as an expert practitioner and thought leader.

About The Analyst

Headshot of Tomek Jankowski, Senior Analyst, Consulting, ALM Intelligence

Tomek’s focus is on finance management consulting, which includes finance operations, balance sheet strategy & investor relations, portfolio & capital strategy, and transaction advisory services.

Before joining ALM Intelligence, Tomek led the European asset-backed securities (ABS) and global collateralized debt obligation (CDO) report sourcing and research efforts for the asset-backed securities market intelligence firm Lewtan Technologies. Before that he spent five years with Capital Access International, a fixed-income market intelligence firm responsible for bringing the widely known fixed-income investment professional and securities profile tool eMAXX™ to the investment world. He was Director of North American data research when that firm was acquired by Lipper (a Reuters company) in 2002.

Tomek earned a B.A. in History magna cum laude, with a minor in Cultural Anthropology, from SUNY at Buffalo (New York). In 2017 Tomek earned his Masters of Science degree in Applied Economics from Southern New Hampshire University. He also spent several years living and studying in Poland, Hungary, and other regions of Eastern Europe and has authored a successful book (published in late 2013) on Eastern Europe, which is going into its second edition in 2018.

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