Sionic Advisors merges with UK counterpart Catalyst Development

09 April 2019

NYC-based financial services specialist consultancy Sionic Advisors has merged with London-based Catalyst Development, a specialist financial markets consulting firm. The deal, backed by private equity firm Livingbridge, will see Catalyst grow to more than 300 professionals across a dozen locations in North America, Europe, and Asia, with a combined revenue of more than $60 million. 

Demand for digital transformation and regulatory and compliance services is currently booming in the financial services sector. Financial consulting services spending has swelled globally from $17 billion in 2008 to $38 billion in 2018, for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8-10%. More than 70% of spending was on technology, operations, and risk and regulatory compliance and change services in North America, Europe, and Asia – the focus areas of Sionic Advisors.

Founded in 2014, the consultancy specializes in financial crime and compliance, regulatory and compliance, finance and operations transformation, risk management, and strategic technology. Sionic currently employs approximately 160 people in offices across New York, Toronto, London, Madrid, Zurich, Singapore, Stockholm, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bangalore.

Sionic Advisors merges with UK counterpart Catalyst DevelopmentSionic will merge with Catalyst, a similarly sized consulting firm with similar competencies. Founded in 1994, Catalyst delivers strategy, operations, regulatory, technology, and change consulting services to financial services firms. The consultancy has approximately 160 employees across offices in London, Jersey, and Vilnius, Lithuania. Over the past 25 years, Catalyst has worked with more than 70 clients in more than 30 financial centers worldwide.

The deal, which creates a geographically broad, large-scale financial services consulting specialist, was backed by UK-based private equity firm Livingbridge, which invests in fast-growing firms valued up to $250 million. Livingbridge previous invested in Catalyst in 2017, and then backed the consultancy’s acquisition of wealth management specialist Knadel in February 2018.

Livingbridge’s US team worked with Catalyst management to develop the firm’s US acquisition strategy, while supporting the merger execution. Catalyst’s private equity partner expects the consultancy to target further strategic acquisitions in the future to meet demand in the fast-growing market.

“This is a transformational merger that will create a world-leading specialist firm,” Andrew Middleton, Catalyst Group CEO, said. “Sionic has highly regarded expertise in our core banking market, enabling us to scale our delivery of complex assignments for clients worldwide, and a lead position in the US and Canada. Catalyst has a lead position in London and both offshore and nearshore offices, along with specialist asset and wealth management expertise, an international track record in people, talent and change and a global track record of developing financial markets infrastructure for clearing houses and exchanges,” Middleton said. 

“This is a perfect match. We’re known as experts in our field and as fast-growth disruptors of outdated models of consultancy. Like Catalyst, we deliver measurable value and best in class change services in control and governance, regulatory change, operations, risk, finance and technology," Craig Sher, Sionic cofounder and Group CEO, added. 


Wellness Workdays acquires health coach Occupational Medical Consulting

22 April 2019

Corporate wellness program advisor Wellness Workdays has acquired health coaching firm Occupational Medical Consulting.

Healthcare approaches have long been premised on after-the-fact treatment, which is both more costly and often less effective than preventative measures. If doctors and public health specialists could get everyone to exercise daily, eat leafy greens, cut down sugar intake, and relax, then national healthcare costs would be a great deal lower. Buy-in is the tough part, however.

From a corporate standpoint, wellness programs are becoming more popular for a number of reasons. For one thing, either health-centric or financial wellness programs can cut down on stress, which in turn can cut down on productivity loss. Health-based wellness programs aim to decrease sick days and illness absences, while lowering health insurance costs and premiums.

According to a Harvard meta-review of research in the field, every $1.00 spent on worksite wellness programs has an expected ROI of $3.27, and when absenteeism is factored in, the return increases to $6.00. In the end, a healthy workforce is a more effective and efficient one – but once again, how do you get buy-in?Wellness Workdays acquires health coach Occupational Medical ConsultingMaine-based OMC’s health wellness program method is physician-driven, and rooted in behavioral science that gets strong results. Behavioral science is a popular field that seeks to understand and exploit the peculiar biases and irrationalities of humans in order to drive favorable policy results. A fun example of behavioral nudging is Amsterdam Schiphol Airport’s strategy of painting houseflies inside men’s urinals in order to “improve aim.”

In the case of health coaching, the process might involve playing on people’s loss aversion – setting exercise goals, for example, where you are forced to lose something valuable if you fail to follow through.

The consulting firm reports that its standardized coaching process and proprietary software drive wellness program participation rates well above national norms – reaching 80-95% participation rates on average.  As a result of OMC’s advisory work, clients have decreased behavioral health risks and costs risks – reducing and preventing excess medical spending and insurance premium increases in the process.

OMC has now been acquired by Massachusetts-based wellness consulting firm Wellness Workdays. The consultancy delivers corporate wellness services and nutritional programs that aim to promote employee health and morale, increase productivity, and lower health care costs. The firm’s four-step process covers assessment, strategy, implementation, and evaluation.

Wellness Workdays has additional offices in New York, Florida, and Texas, and has worked with notable clients such as MIT, Brown University, Putnam Investments, and New Balance.

As part of the acquisition OMC will now operate as a subsidiary of Wellness Workdays, and will be rebranded as OMC Wellness.

"OMC provides an exciting opportunity for Wellness Workdays to further enhance and expand its wellness offerings," said Debra Wein, founder and CEO of Wellness Workdays and CEO of OMC. "The organization shares our common vision related to a high-touch, outcomes-driven approach to wellness, as well as a passion and commitment to promote employee health and well-being.

“The acquisition brings our proprietary approach to wellness together with OMC's highly trained health coaches to drive better health outcomes and ultimately, healthier employees," she added.