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Jigsaw pieces | AccountingWEB | Unique set of drivers behind M&A activity

Unique set of drivers behind M&A activity


Grant Thornton sees an interesting few years ahead for mergers and acquisitions in the accounting industry, after the firm strengthened its corporate finance team.

11th Apr 2024
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The accountancy sector’s “unique set of regulatory drivers” is behind the rise in the industry’s mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity, according to Grant Thornton’s new head of deals and business consulting, Keely Woodley.

The firm is making a record investment in its corporate finance team on the back of a strong performance last year and has made 10 partner promotions across its M&A and transaction advisory service (TAS) teams.

Half the new partners are based in the UK regions with appointments in Cambridge, Cardiff, Leeds and Manchester including Stuart Davies, Jamie Roberts, Jim Whittaker, Bob McDermott and Matt Bryden-Smith.

Sector specialists Victoria Giles (skills and training), Paul Lynch (financial services due diligence) and Simon Blackburn (head of M&A for financial services), James Moore (transactions tax) and TAS expert Chris Sharpe – who are all based in London – have also joined the partnership.

The firm, which in 2023 advised on 216 deals and recently reported a strong financial performance, has also promoted five assistant directors – Will Rose, Toby Hare, Humza Khan, Jonny Bedford, Ryan Dearman and Mayoo Thushaarah.

Exciting time

Speaking to AccountingWEB, Woodley believes the strong performance in 2023 was due to the “differentiated offering to the UK mid-market”.

“We value both regional and sector specialists equally and are able to bring the best combination of advisers to bear on every transaction, supported by our range of specialists from across financial due diligence, valuations, tax and specialist deal advisory additive services.

“As such, we are in a very strong position to invest in our business to grow out and deepen our sector and geographic footprint further. It’s a very exciting time for the business.”

Woodley noted that there has been a “sustained improvement” in market conditions, with M&A activity on the rise.

Successful transactions

“That is not to say that the market is easy, as there are many macro-economic issues to navigate, but core themes such as reducing inflation and the likelihood for a fall in interest rates – coupled with pent-up investor demand – means we are seeing more businesses successfully transacting.

“We want our team to be at the forefront of this and doubling down on investment feels like the right thing to be doing, given the strength of our business.”

So far as the accountancy sector goes, Keely said it has a “unique set of regulatory drivers that is contributing for more M&A in this segment”.

“I expect to see more transactional activity in the short, medium and long term, as the industry seeks to stay ahead of digital innovation and artificial intelligence, and deliver more value to stakeholders. It’s going to be an interesting few years.”

The views echo that of James Gosling at AJ Chambers, who recently spoke to AccountingWEB about the “several dynamics at play” that are driving M&A in the industry.

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