Wednesday 05 October 2016

The timing of this event could not have been better with the announcement last week of the CMS, Olswang and Nabarro merger.  All three firms have now voted for the merger to go-ahead creating a new firm that will have total revenues just shy of £1bn.

But what is the reality like of merging? At this month’s PM Forum event Daryl Atkinson, Director of Marketing and Management at Charles Russell Speechlys, and Nigel Pyke, Partner and Head of Marketing and Communications at Cushman & Wakefield, provided their insight into the experience of working through a merger and the communication challenges that arise.

What are the challenges?

In Daryl’s own words, the tie-up between Charles Russell and Speechly Bircham was very much a merger of equals and in no way a distressed merger. It has been two years since the deal was done and he identified some key milestones throughout that period for the marketing and communications team:

  • The launch of the new firm
  • Development of the new strategy and positioning
  • Communicating the strategy
  • Integration and infrastructure
  • The physical move
  • Implementing all strategy projects

Both Daryl and Nigel highlighted the merging of IT systems as one of the biggest challenges for everyone.

What are the benefits?

Both speakers found it was too early to tell how much their merger had impacted quality of service. However, they both reported increased revenues and profits, with Nigel saying for Cushman the biggest impact has been the new business they have been able to win due to the increased global brand meaning they had seats at tables they would not have been invited to previously.

From a reputational perspective, Charles Russell Speechlys has demonstrated an increased profile and positive feedback from the sector. The combined firm saw an improvement in rankings in the recently published Legal 500, with more breadth and increased top listings.

For Charles Russell Speechlys they feel one of the biggest benefits has been streamlining their communications. The firm undertakes 25% less activity now but it is more impactful, strategic and focused.

So what are the speakers’ top tips for merging?

  • Culture is Number One – the two (or three!) firms must share similar cultures and values
  • Have simple announcements and messaging – one voice, one brand, one firm
  • It is all about the detail!
  • You cannot be prepared for everything – you will encounter the unexpected
  • Value your team and celebrate your successes
  • Communicate, communicate – Communicate!

Natalie Cush
Byfield Consultancy