Top M&A Consulting Firms in 2024

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In recent years, there has been a significant shift in the way that M&A consulting firms approach their work, with the incorporation of technology playing a central role in this transformation. One company at the forefront of this trend is M&A Science, which is leading the charge in bringing innovative technologies to the M&A industry. By leveraging tools such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and automation, M&A Science is helping to streamline the M&A process and improve outcomes for its clients.

With a focus on delivering data-driven insights and expert guidance, M&A Science is quickly gaining recognition as one of the top M&A consulting firms in the United States. In this article, we will explore some of the other firms that are leading the way in this space and discuss the ways in which they are leveraging technology to transform the M&A landscape.

What is consulting in M&A?

Consulting in M&A is a professional service that helps companies navigate the M&A process and maximize its benefits.

M&A Consultants offer expertise and experience in various areas such as market analysis, target identification, due diligence, negotiation, and integration planning. They work with companies to understand their goals and help them achieve their objectives through the M&A process.

Consulting in M&A also helps companies identify potential risks and opportunities associated with the transaction and provides recommendations to mitigate those risks. They bring a fresh perspective and provide objective insights that help companies make informed decisions.

M&A consulting firms are a critical part of the M&A process as they provide companies with the resources and expertise necessary to succeed in a highly competitive environment. Companies that engage in M&A can benefit greatly from the expertise of consultants and increase the chances of a successful transaction.

What makes a top M&A consulting firm?

A top M&A consulting firm can help companies navigate this process and achieve their goals. But what makes a consulting firm truly "top" in the M&A space?

  1. Experience: A top M&A consulting firm should have a proven track record of successfully executing M&A transactions. This includes industry experience and a deep understanding of the M&A process.
  2. Reputation: A top M&A consulting firm should have a strong reputation in the industry, built on the quality of their work and the results they deliver to their clients.
  3. Network: A top M&A consulting firm should have a strong network of industry contacts, including banks, law firms, and other professional service providers. This network can provide valuable insights and support during the M&A process.
  4. Expertise: A top M&A consulting firm should have a team of experienced professionals with deep knowledge and expertise in various areas of M&A, such as market analysis, due diligence, and integration planning.
  5. Client focus: A top M&A consulting firm should have a client-focused approach, putting the needs of its clients first and working closely with them to achieve their goals.

Types of top M&A consulting firms

There are several different types of M&A consulting firms, each specializing in different areas of the M&A process.

  1. Investment Banks: These firms provide various financial services, including financing, capital raising, and M&A advisory. They work with companies to identify potential M&A opportunities, provide financial analysis and valuations, and help clients finance their transactions.
  2. Strategy Consultants: These firms specialize in helping companies formulate and execute their growth strategies, including M&A. They provide market analysis, target identification, and help clients develop and implement their M&A plans.
  3. Financial Advisory Firms: These firms specialize in financial analysis and provide services such as valuations, financing, and debt restructuring. They can play a crucial role in helping clients finance their M&A transactions and manage their financial risks.
  4. Legal M&A Consulting Firms: These firms specialize in the legal aspects of M&A, including contract negotiations, due diligence, and compliance. They provide clients with expert legal advice and support during the M&A process.
  5. Boutique M&A Consulting Firms: These are smaller consulting firms that specialize in M&A and provide personalized services to their clients. They typically have a smaller team of experts who focus on a specific industry or market, offering clients a deep understanding of their sector.

Investment banks

1.Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street powerhouse

Goldman Sachs, once considered an outsider among the elite investment banks of Wall Street, has risen to the top through decades of success in the 20th century. One of the defining moments in the firm's history was its role as the underwriter for the Ford Motor Company's Initial Public Offering (IPO), propelling it to the forefront of the financial industry.

Despite the challenges posed by the global pandemic in 2020, Goldman Sachs continued to demonstrate its strength as a leading investment bank. The firm advised on several deals in the technology, media, and telecommunications (TMT) sector, including the $5.3 billion acquisition of Plaid by Visa in January.

Despite a decrease in overall deal value, with $966 billion in deals closed in 2020, an 18% decrease from the previous year, Goldman Sachs remains a force to be reckoned with in the world of finance.

2. Morgan Stanley: A leader in strategic acquisitions and advisory services

Morgan Stanley entered 2020 with a continued commitment to strengthening its service portfolio through strategic in-house acquisitions. One of the most notable was the acquisition of E*Trade in February for over $13 billion. This deal provided the bank with access to five million retail investors and invaluable insights into the billions of individual trades made annually.

In addition to its successful acquisitions, Morgan Stanley also shone in its advisory role, playing a significant role in India's Reliance Industries (RIL) $5.7 billion partial buyout by Facebook during the first half of the year. These achievements are a testament to Morgan Stanley's unwavering commitment to providing exceptional services to its clients and staying at the forefront of the financial industry.

3. JP Morgan: A financial powerhouse led by CEO Jamie Dimon

With its dynamic CEO, Jamie Dimon, at the helm, JP Morgan continues to make headlines in the financial industry. In 2020, the company closed a total of 289 transactions, with a combined deal value of $772 billion.

JP Morgan's ambitions are evident as it strives to become the leading name in M&A advisory. The company recently made moves to reinforce its position by attracting some of the most well-known deal-makers in the industry.

It already leads in M&A for insurance underwriters, as demonstrated by its role as the intermediary in AXA's $15.4 billion acquisition of XL Limited in 2020. As one of the most influential players in finance, JP Morgan is a company to watch in the coming years.

4. Citi: A leading advisor in the EMEA Region

Citi held an impressive 4th place on the list of leading investment banks in 2019; however, in 2020 it fell back to 6th place. The total volume of deals in which the bank was involved decreased dramatically, dropping 43% from $704 billion in 2019 to $395 billion in 2020. Despite this setback, Citi remains the number one advisor in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region due to its extensive local presence.

One of the reasons for the decline in transaction volume has been the absence of "megadeals" from Citi's portfolio. Although the bank advised on four deals worth over $1 billion in 2020, there were none with a value in excess of $10 billion. Despite these challenges, Citi remains a formidable player in the world of finance and continues to offer exceptional services to its clients.

5. Bank of America: A Financial Institution on the Rise

Bank of America is experiencing a resurgence in the financial world. Despite a 16% decrease in deal volume compared to 2019, the bank has moved up the M&A rankings for the second year in a row, rising from 5th to 4th place with $551 billion in total deal value.

One of the reasons for this upward trajectory is the bank's growing influence in the oil and gas industry. Bank of America advised on several high-value deals in 2020, including its role as advisor on IFM Investors' $11.2 billion acquisition of Buckeye Partners LP. This position as a leading player in the industry could be a major advantage for Bank of America in the years to come, as the energy sector continues to transition.

Overall, Bank of America's upward momentum is a promising sign for the future of the financial institution, and investors should keep an eye on its continued growth and success.

Financial advisory firms

1. Woodley Farra Manion

Woodley Farra Manion is a leading financial advisory firm based in Indianapolis, Indiana. The firm is recognized as the top financial advisor in the country, ranking No. 1 on the 2022 CNBC Financial Advisor 100 list, after previously appearing at No. 17 in 2021. With 27 years of experience and over 1,000 accounts under management, the firm has built a solid reputation for delivering exceptional financial advice and results to its clients.

The firm's total assets under management are $1.4 billion, and Principals Donald Woodley and George Farra lead it. With a proven track record and a commitment to excellence, Woodley Farra Manion is a top choice for those seeking expert financial guidance.

2. Dana Investment Advisors

Dana Investment Advisors is a premier financial advisory firm based in Waukesha, WI, providing exceptional investment management services for over 42 years. With a total AUM of $7B and over 1,256 accounts under management, the firm has established itself as a leader in the industry. Dana Investment Advisors has made its mark on the financial world, being ranked No. 2 on the 2022 CNBC Financial Advisor 100 list and topping last year's list as well.

The firm is led by Mark Mirsberger, the Chief Executive Officer, and Joe Veranth, the Chief Investment Officer, who bring their extensive knowledge and experience to the table to provide clients with the best possible advice and support.

3. Albion Financial Group

Albion Financial Group is a leading financial advisory firm based in Salt Lake City, UT, with a long-standing reputation for exceptional service and expertise. The firm has been in business for 40 years and is ranked No. 3 on the 2022 CNBC Financial Advisor 100 list, building on its previous appearance at No. 50 in 2021.

With a total AUM of $1.4 billion and over 2,221 accounts under management, Albion Financial Group has a solid foundation for delivering results-driven financial solutions to its clients. The firm is led by President Liz Bernhard and CEO John Bird, two seasoned financial professionals with a deep commitment to delivering the highest level of service.

4. Heritage Investment Group 

Based in Pompano Beach, FL, Heritage Investment Group is a top-ranked financial advisory firm. With 29 years of experience, the firm boasts a total of $1.7 billion in assets under management and 1,888 accounts.

Heritage Investment Group has made multiple appearances on the CNBC Financial Advisor 100 list, ranking No. 4 in 2022 and No. 24 in 2021. The company is led by Frederick MacLean, the Chief Financial Analyst and President, and Timothy Slattery, the Chief Investment Officer.

5. Edgemoor Investment Advisors

Edgemoor Investment Advisors, based in Bethesda, MD, is a top-performing financial advisory firm ranked No. 5 on the 2022 CNBC Financial Advisor 100 list. With 23 years of experience in the industry, Edgemoor has built a reputation for delivering excellent results to its clients.

The firm manages a total AUM of $1.1B and 320 accounts, making it a leading player in its field. Edgemoor has made two previous appearances on the FA 100 list, ranking No. 26 in 2021. The firm is led by President Tom Meehan and Managing Director Paul Meehan, who bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to their roles.

Strategy consultants

1. ​​McKinsey & Company

Founded by James O. McKinsey in 1926 in Chicago, McKinsey has established itself as a foremost authority in the management consulting industry. With a global footprint of over 35,000 employees in over 130 cities, McKinsey is the largest of the top management consulting firms, commanding unrivaled reach and prestige. 

The firm is the go-to advisor for senior leaders of the world's top organizations, offering guidance on critical questions from strategy and operations to digital transformation.

2. Boston Consulting Group (BCG)

BCG is a prominent global management consulting firm with a rapidly expanding presence. With over 25,000 employees across 50 countries and 100 cities, BCG is a formidable competitor in the industry, offering a diverse range of services to clients in various industries and geographies.

The legacy of BCG is embodied by its esteemed alumni, including former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooy, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Grammy award-winning musician John Legend. These distinguished individuals are a testament to the transformative impact that BCG has had on both its clients and the careers of its employees.

3. Bain & Company

Bain & Company, founded by former BCG partner Bill Bain, is a preeminent management consulting firm that provides innovative solutions to a diverse range of industries. Along with McKinsey and BCG, Bain is considered to be among the world's top-3 management consulting firms and is widely recognized for its unparalleled expertise in serving financial services and private equity clients.

Bain's legacy of excellence is reflected in the careers of its prominent alumni, including Nike CEO John Donahoe, former US presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and Meg Whitman, former CEO of Hewlett Packard. These successful individuals are a testament to Bain's commitment to delivering innovative solutions and fostering the growth and development of its employees.

4. Kearney

A.T. Kearney, founded by the legendary leader Andrew Thomas Kearney in the management consulting industry, has a rich and storied history. After the split of McKinsey in 1939, Kearney continued to lead his firm out of Chicago, establishing a reputation for excellence and innovation.

Despite its relatively small size, with a team of over 4,000 employees spanning multiple industries and operating in over 40 countries, Kearney is widely recognized for its exceptional operational capabilities.

With its proud heritage and ongoing commitment to delivering innovative solutions, A.T. Kearney remains a major player in the management consulting industry and a trusted partner to organizations around the world.

5. Oliver Wyman

Oliver Wyman is a leading management consulting firm with a global presence, boasting over 6,000 employees across over 70 cities in 30 countries. The firm's expertise in financial services is unparalleled, serving over 80% of the world's largest 100 financial institutions.

With a deep understanding of the banking and financial services industry, Oliver Wyman is renowned for their ability to provide insightful and impactful solutions to clients. The firm's exceptional reputation is a testament to its unwavering commitment to delivering results and fostering long-term partnerships.

Legal M&A consulting firms

1. PWC

PwC stands tall as one of the leading players in the M&A industry, boasting a massive client base, a talented pool of over 280,000 employees, and a wealth of expertise across various fields that enables it to provide unparalleled resources to clients seeking M&A solutions. In 2020, the company emerged as a leader in the global construction industry, partnering with Goldman Sachs to advise on a staggering $4 billion worth of deals.

2. KPMG 

As one of the world's leading "Big 4" auditing firms, KPMG boasts unparalleled resources and a global presence that spans 157 countries. Its extensive reach and expertise make it an ideal partner for companies seeking to explore cross-border M&A opportunities.

KPMG's track record in the M&A sector is impressive, having recently served as the exclusive sell-side advisor to Danske Bank in the sale of Danske Bank International to Union Bancaire Privée. The company's expertise and ability to navigate complex transactions make it a top choice for companies seeking a trusted advisor in the M&A arena.

3. Deloitte

Deloitte is a brand that brings together a community of dedicated professionals from independent firms worldwide, united in providing top-notch audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, tax, and related services to a select client base. The member firms are part of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL), a UK-based private company.

Each DTTL member firm operates within specific geographic regions and adheres to the laws and regulations of the respective country or countries. The member firms are structured in accordance with national norms, regulations, and practices and may offer services through subsidiaries, affiliates, and other related entities. 

4. EY

As one of the "Big 4" in the industry, EY has established itself as a leader in strategy and M&A. With a recent announcement of record-breaking revenues in this area, reaching a staggering $4.8 billion globally, EY continues to solidify its position as a top player in the market.

EY's strategy division, also known as "EY Parthenon," has made a name for itself in the health tech industry, where it is widely regarded as a foremost expert. The company has been involved in some of the biggest health tech deals over the past decade, offering unmatched expertise and insights.

Recently, EY played a key role in advising shareholders at Valeo Foods during their buyout by Bain Capital, a private equity firm and spin-off of Bain & Co. This demonstrates the company's exceptional ability to navigate complex transactions and provide value to clients.

5. Alvarez & Marsal

Alvarez & Marsal, a premier consulting firm specializing in turnarounds, is the go-to choice for companies seeking to acquire distressed targets. With a strong focus on private equity clients, the firm's expertise and experience in navigating complex and challenging acquisition scenarios make it a sought-after partner. In 2020, Sresta Natural Bioproducts entrusted Alvarez & Marsal with finding a suitable buyer and today, the company is under the guidance of prominent private equity firms Sequoia and CDC.

Boutique M&A consulting firms

1. Sica | Fletcher

Sica | Fletcher is a leading name in the lower middle market M&A advisory arena, consistently ranked #1 since its establishment in 2014. The firm prides itself on its ability to work across a diverse range of industries, despite having a compact and highly skilled team.

The founders, Mike Fletcher and Al Sica bring their extensive market knowledge and experience to each and every deal, ensuring that their clients receive the highest level of expertise and guidance. Despite its relatively small size, the firm consistently outperforms its larger competitors, closing an average of 40-70 deals each year, with an EBITDA range of $1-30M.

Sica | Fletcher's areas of expertise are in the professional services, technology, and finance sectors, as evidenced by their successful track record in these industries. With a Principal Experience Score of 5.0 and recognition in the S&P Global Market Intelligence League Tables, Sica | Fletcher is well-regarded as a top-performing M&A advisory firm.

2. Intrepid

As a prominent player in the M&A advisory space, Intrepid stands out for its mastery of the rapidly growing Asian-Pacific beauty market. With a projected Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4.64%, the beauty sector presents a wealth of opportunities for Intrepid to seize, positioning the company in a prime position of influence and profitability.

Intrepid offers its expertise to both sell-side and buy-side clients, specializing in liquidity transactions, including minority sales, majority recapitalization, and full sale transactions. They work closely with private equity firms and strategic acquirers to provide tailored solutions to their clients' needs.

While beauty and personal care remain a core area of focus for Intrepid, the company also serves a range of consumer industries, including food, toys, and healthcare. With a deep understanding of the Asian-Pacific market, Intrepid is well equipped to support clients who require an advisor with a working knowledge of the region.

With an EBITDA range of $5-50M, the company closes an average of 15-25 deals each year and boasts a Principal Experience Score of 4.5. Intrepid is highly ranked, coming in at #9 in the Asia Pacific M&A Advisory League Tables, further establishing its reputation as a leading M&A advisory firm, specializing in the beauty and personal care sector.

3. Perella Weinberg Partners

Perella Weinberg Partners is a full-service M&A advisory firm with a proven track record in the consumer industries, including retail, food, beverage, alcohol, and personal care products. With a focus on sell-side advisory, the company provides expert guidance to clients navigating the complexities of company sales, corporate divestitures, carve-outs, and spin-offs.

In addition, the firm's extensive experience in the energy sector allows it to support a diverse range of clients, from renewable energy companies to oil field services.

The combination of M&A advisory and investment banking capabilities makes Perella Weinberg Partners a valuable partner for larger companies, providing support with SEC regulations and formal broker-dealer licensing. With an EBITDA range of $5-40M, the firm closes an average of 40-50 deals annually and has a Principal Experience Score of 4.5.

Perella Weinberg Partners has received recognition for their expertise, including being named a top financial advisor for financial services deals in the Merger Markets Middle Eastern M&A Awards. With specialties in consumer and retail, energy technology, and healthcare, Perella Weinberg Partners is a trusted advisor for companies seeking top-notch M&A support.

4. Loeb & Loeb LLP

Loeb & Loeb LLP is a premier law firm specializing in strategic legal advisory for buy-side and sell-side services. With a focus on navigating complex negotiations, such as corporate takeovers, roll-ups, and stock purchases, the firm provides clients with unparalleled expertise.

Additionally, Loeb & Loeb LLP offers a range of complementary services, including corporate governance, brand protection, and cross-border discovery, to ensure a comprehensive approach to their clients' needs.

Focused on serving the advertising, media, and entertainment industries, Loeb & Loeb LLP has a strong track record of success. With an EBITDA range of $10-40M, the firm closes an average of 60-80 deals annually and has a Principal Experience Score of 4.0. The firm has also been recognized for their excellence, earning the #2 ranking in top legal advisors to DeSPAC deals in North America.

For companies in the media and entertainment space seeking a partner for strategic legal advisory, Loeb & Loeb LLP is the clear choice. With a deep understanding of their client’s industries and a commitment to providing comprehensive solutions, the firm is a leader in their field.

5. Clairfield

Clairfield is a trusted advisor in mid-market M&A, offering expertise in both buy-side and sell-side advisory. With a strong track record of successful cross-border deals, Clairfield has established itself as a leader in international M&A, particularly in Mexican M&A. Their services range from searching for buyers and sponsors to executing LBO and MBO deals, joint ventures, and client valuations.

Clairfield also offers debt capital advising and support for family businesses. With an EBITDA range of $5-30M, a high number of annual deals (100+), and a 4.0 principal experience score, Clairfield is ranked #1 in M&A Mexico transaction volume for 2020, making them a top choice for clients in the market.

Technology in M&A

M&A is one of the most outdated industries in the world. Most billion-dollar deals are still being managed using excel spreadsheets, which is highly inefficient. In today's rapidly changing business landscape, organizations must adopt innovative approaches to effectively manage their acquisitions. 

Speed is of the essence in M&A, and using outdated ways of managing deals only bottlenecks the process and exposes the deal to delays, leaks, and errors. However, the advancement of technology platforms today presents a unique opportunity to modernize legacy systems and streamline business processes. The time to act is now.

Dealroom is an M&A lifecycle management software that will help practitioners execute deals faster and more efficiently from start to finish. It is designed to optimize deal management workflows to maximize efficiency, which leads to increased deal value. If you want to know more, book a call now!

Conclusion

Hiring M&A consulting firms has significant benefits to deal execution. Listed above are some of the largest firms in their respective categories, implying experience and credibility. But regardless of the list, it is important to understand the value that consulting firms bring to the table. 

M&A Science has been inside the M&A engine for decades. We have turned all that knowledge and experience into our consulting practice to help practitioners execute better deals. If you want to know further, click here: 

  1. How many M&A consulting firms are there in the US?

    There are over 12,500 M&A Advisory Firms in the United States. It is extremely difficult to specify the exact number, since there are always new firms opening, and there are others getting acquired.

  2. How much does an M&A consulting firm charge?

    In general, M&A consulting firms charge a percentage of the transaction value together with a retainer or work fee from $50k to $250k, which is sometimes paid as a monthly consulting fee over a period of 4-12 months. Here is an approximation of the success fee that they charge:

Deal Size $1 million to $5 million expect to be quoted a success fee of 12% to 8%

Deal Size $5 million to $25 million expect to be quoted a success fee of 7% to 4%

Deal Size of $30 million to $100 million expect to be quoted a success fee 4% to 2%

It's important to note that some M&A consulting firms may also charge additional expenses, such as travel and accommodation costs, which can add to the overall cost of their services. It's essential to discuss all fees and expenses upfront with the consulting firm to avoid any surprises later on.

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