In the Know: Positioning for Growth in a Recession

We’re sharing real-time trending topics we are hearing from our 500+ PE firm clients as we combat ongoing recessionary and inflationary pressures. One of our Private Equity Strategic Account Executives, Cydney Dicken, talks about why and how leading PE firms are taking action to increase their portfolio’s equity value during these uncertain times.

Learn more about what PE firms are doing as they prepare to run towards the storm by watching the video below.

Interested in addressing competitive opportunities, optimizing profitability, or recruiting and retaining the right talent? Contact us here. You can also learn more about the specific ways we drive value for PE firms by connecting them to the exact-fit resources they need by reading our case studies.




Hunt Scanlon 2022: Human Capital in Private Equity

Last month, our team had the chance to attend Hunt Scanlon’s private equity recruiting conference in New York. At the conference, our founder & CEO, Sean Mooney, had the opportunity to sit on the panel, “The Art of Building Private Equity Leadership Teams,” alongside  Jimmy Holloran of ParkerGale Capital, Amanda Roberts of L Catterton, Michelle Nasir of Arsenal Capital Partners, Kit Cooper of Signal Partners, and Adam Zellner of Business Talent Group. There were many value-filled panels throughout the day, allowing for hundreds of PE leaders to discuss and share their thoughts with one another on the current state of strategy, culture, and talent.

The pandemic has both accentuated and accelerated PE’s greatest challenges, and human capital is challenge #1. PE human capital leaders have quickly become the busiest people in the industry, demonstrated by our BluWave Activity Index which shows that 42% of PE projects in Q1 ‘22 were related to human capital, which was up from 36% in the previous quarter. Our key takeaways from the conference below share how talent leaders are staying busy and how they are creating efficiencies to drive more value while they are in such high demand:

1. The Need for a Data-Driven Approach to Talent

  • Business leaders are increasingly recognizing the importance and value of quickly getting the right talent in place across all organizations. According to McKinsey, organizations that get talent right in the first year see 2.5x ROI on their initial investment. Getting talent right is not just a necessity for the C-suite, 90% of critical talent needs in a company lie below the C-suite.
  • With so much at stake if you get talent wrong, many PE firms and proactive businesses are taking a data-driven approach to human capital in order to have best practices to track against.

2. Talent-to-Value

  • Not only does getting the right talent in place quickly improve ROI, it is also crucial to enable companies to deliver on their value creation plans. One way firms are ensuring they get the talent they need is by developing great relationships with their recruiting firms. This allows recruiters to gain a sense for what “talent for that specific firm” looks like.
  • While human capital is critical to value creation, everyone is fishing in the same pond for talent, creating difficulties in getting the talent you need. One solution to this is to take a holistic approach to talent identification & recruitment in which you identify the key targeted areas for value creation in a portfolio company and then systematically focus and prioritize solving the talent that will have an impact on the biggest value creation opportunities. This has been called the “Talent to Value” approach.

3. Growing Emphasis on Culture and DE&I

  • There is a growing emphasis on culture and DE&I in private equity
  • On the DE&I side, each firm needs to take a personalized approach that works for them. A good starting point is to take an initial framework and gather data internally to make sure everyone is included and heard. Then, needs should be measured on a quarterly basis to see how you are improving over time.
  • On the culture side, a focus on internal company culture will help with recruitment & retention efforts, which ultimately, will help you advance your value creation plans. One way to do this is to assess what currently sets your culture apart and then build on it from there. Additionally, interviews should be assessing if candidates have cultural alignment, as much as they are assessing if they have skill and will.

Balancing the art and science of connecting talent to value, amidst a tight market will be the key driver to success as we head into the second half of 2022. If we can be of any assistance, please let us know.

Additionally, you may be interested in checking out some of our human capital specific resources, which can be found here:


May 2022 Roundup: BluWave Client Insights

BluWave works with over 500 PE firms from around the globe as well as their portfolio companies and proactive independent companies, connecting them with pre-vetted, best-in-class, third-party service providers across a variety of resource and functional areas. From information technology and manufacturing to healthcare, consumer goods, and beyond, our clients are expert business builders. In other words, they have their heads in the game and their hands on the pulse of news and insights you can use.

Check out the latest, curated collection of our clients’ musings on digital transformation, PE management, human capital, and more. 

The continuous digital transformation of our world has completely changed the way consumers interact with retail brands. In this article, Macquarie dives into how new direct-to-consumer strategies are enabling brands to create personalization at scale, fundamentally changing the future experience of e-commerce.

Read more >>>

Ever since private equity was “institutionalized” about 40 years ago, this thriving ecosystem has grown from roughly 20 PE firms to over 5,000 in the US alone. New Mountain Capital (NMC) CEO Steve Klinsky shares NMC’s growth story, style, and path to success. Klinsky outlines a $5.7B gain from just one company and a replicable process to create value for both businesses and the economy.

Read more >>>

Monomoy Capital Partners investment team members, Matt Farrell (VP) and Charlie Johnson (Associate), sit down to share a little about themselves and what it’s like to be with the organization. This interview shares a peek at their company culture and the investment team.

Watch the video >>>

In honor of May being mental health awareness month, MiddleGround Capital’s Founding and Managing Partner John Stewart announced their strategic partnership with BetterHelp, the world’s largest therapy service. MiddleGround Capital is working towards ending the stigma surrounding mental health by providing these professional resources to their employees.

Watch the video >>>

ParkerGale Operating Team Partner, Jimmy Holloran, is joined by Ted Bililies, Managing Director at AlixPartners, on this episode of The Private Equity Funcast to discuss The Great Resignation, the rising prominence of talent recruitment and retention, and more.

Listen to the podcast >>>


Here’s what some of our clients had to say last month about retail industry news, ESG, and CEO perspectives.


Event Recap: PEI Operating Partners Forum 2022

Last week, I had the pleasure of moderating  the “Unlocking the Transformative Due Diligence Imperative” panel at the PEI Operating Partners Forum in San Francisco. The panel included operating partner leaders Deborah Gallegos of Palladium Equity Partners, Drew Scielzo of ACON Investments, and Sheheryar Shah of ZT Corporate.

It was refreshing to be back in person with hundreds of PE ops partners to learn from their first-hand perspectives. Key takeaways included:

Executing value creation means that human capital remains a top priority for PE firms.

  • Ensuring the right management team and board leadership are in place allows for efficient execution against the value creation plan. Resource scarcity has had an immense impact on firms’ abilities to implement and execute plans. Industry leaders discussed tips for how PE firms can source and retain the right people at our recent human capital forum.

Leveraging technology to increase efficiencies is non-negotiable.

  • The aforementioned human capital challenges have tremendously accelerated digital transformation plans. PE firms are laser-focused on leveraging technology to increase efficiencies and reduce manual tasks to align with value creation plans. This allows portcos to reallocate resources to higher impact areas and rely on technology to solve for the monotonous, repeatable workflow.

Building trust with portcos’ management teams early on is essential.

  • Trusted partnerships between PE firms and their portfolio companies are vital to a successful investment. Building executive buy-in earlier on in the diligence process with a people-centric approach puts PE firms in a win-win situation. When the (right) management team has ownership in the decision-making process, this creates invaluable efficiencies between the PE firm and portco leadership teams.

If you’re interested in learning more about any of these, contact us here. You can also check out some of these resources:

In The Know: Executive Search

As part of an ongoing series, we’re sharing real-time trending topics we are hearing from our 500+ PE firm clients. In our most recent installment, we discuss why leading PE firms are choosing to engage specialized executive search firms over larger generalist recruiting firms.

Learn more by watching the video below.

Interested in connecting with a specialized recruiter or any other type of third party? Contact us here. You can also learn more about the specific ways we drive value for PE firms by connecting them to the exact-fit resources they need by reading our case studies.

Human Capital Forum Recap | May 2022

Every quarter we bring together top PE HR and talent executives to discuss current industry topics and to offer talent leaders in private equity the chance to gather, share intel, and decompress with one another. In our most recent event, we discussed many topics and listed our top takeaways below. 

These forums follow Chatham House Rules, so listed below are high-level takeaways only. Are you in private equity and interested in joining fellow leading PE professionals during our next Human Capital Forum? RSVP for our next event on August 24th.

Resource scarcity:

  • All firms are facing the impact of this in some way.  Here are a few ideas for addressing this challenge:
    • Lean into interim execs to professionalize certain business areas immediately post-acquisition, steady the ship while a more permanent search takes longer than it has historically, and/or serve as a “try before you buy” resource.
    • Get clarity on the “must-have” vs “nice to have” qualification of candidates from the hiring teams (portco execs or deal team).  Everyone wants LeBron, but would you settle for Kevin or Steph? Evaluate possibilities to reassign work elsewhere in the business or settle with a 9/10 fit candidate.
    • Line up third-party resources as early as possible to ensure they aren’t booked.
    • Streamline the recruiting process, especially when you know the candidate may receive multiple offers.

Developing current talent:

  • Given how hard it is to get top talent in place, many firms and companies are trying to solve for it by developing more junior talent to step into exec roles.
  • Human capital teams are creating development and training plans that are broadly applicable to all portcos and can be tailored based on the company, position, and makeup/structure of the exec team.
  • Each business is unique, but there are common experiences in talent development that can cut across groups. Listen to employees to determine what type of development they want (coaching, training, continuing education, etc.).

Managing relationships with specialized recruiters:

  • In BluWave’s recently published Q1 Insights report, specialized recruiters were a top use case on the BluWave Value Creation Index, emphasizing the importance of partnering with recruiters who already know the top players with the right skills for their specific needs.
  • Sometimes it may be helpful to consider a recruiter directly adjacent to the industry/functional area you are seeking, as they may approach the search differently.
  • Additionally, when presenting search firm options, it is helpful to share multiple options with the hiring manager, so they can find the best fit for them.

We thoroughly enjoyed the fruitful conversations that occurred during this recent gathering of PE human capital professionals. If we can be of assistance during this busy time, please let us know.

Additionally, you may be interested in checking out some of our human capital specific resources, which can be found here:

ACG InterGrowth 2022: Dealmaking Trends

ACG InterGrowth 2022, known as the premier dealmaking conference, was conceptualized to build and strengthen relationships between private equity firms and investment banks. This annual conference allows PE industry leaders to gather and discuss key trends. Last week was filled with cybersecurity, DE&I, and supply chain thought leadership conversations, plus some Las Vegas style poolside networking.

As hundreds of private equity professionals and investment bankers filled the ARIA Resort & Casino from April 25-27, 2022, our team was able to re-connect with familiar faces as well as meet new ones.

“You could feel the eagerness to be back in person the moment you arrived. From founders to deal teams to business development professionals, the atmosphere was engulfed by ideation and excitement,” says Michael Mahan, BluWave Account Management Director.

Here are some of our team’s top takeaways from our largest conference back in person:

  • Quality Deal Flow Challenges
    PE firms broadly shared that activity is slower compared to last year at this time. Our data confirms this as due diligence projects have declined YoY, from 28% of the BluWave Activity Index in Q1 2021 to now 22% in Q1 2022. While overall deal flows are beginning to increase, deal teams expressed that quality deals are hard to come by.
  • Lights, Deals, Action!
    While ‘digital transformation’ remains a top buzzword, we know that top-performing, proactive PE firms and their portfolio companies are looking to transform their businesses, not just optimize them. Industries such as manufacturing and supply chain are dependent on new technologies to scale growth and meet the industry demand post-pandemic.
  • Market Differentiation
    Building brand equity to differentiate your firm is important in today’s crowded landscape. With less quality deals in the market, it is mission critical for firms to remain top of mind with investment bankers. PE firms are finding creative ways to do this through utilizing specialized resources that can help them with their internal branding, & more.

ACG InterGrowth 2022 exceeded our expectations, and it was great to have the opportunity to connect with so many individuals in person. If you were unable to attend the conference, but are interested in connecting with us, contact us here.

BluWave Account Manager Morgan Murphy concludes, “This year’s conference was instrumental in continuing to build our relationships with PE firms face-to-face. Until next year!”

Event Recap: PEI Operating Partners Human Capital Forum 2022

Our team recently had the pleasure of sponsoring the 2022 PEI Operating Partners Human Capital Forum in New York. In the below video, Katie Marchetti, BluWave Managing Director, recaps her key takeaways from the conference as a whole as well as the panel she moderated. Key takeaways include:

  • CHROs are on the rise at both the portco & firm level
  • Human capital leaders are working with deal teams more in diligence to ensure alignment
  • Many firms are leading with data on the human capital front

We support more than 500 leading private equity firms in their human capital needs by placing interim CHROs, connecting them with specialized recruiters, introducing them to HR diligence providers, & more. To learn more about how we support PE human capital needs, visit our PE Human Capital Resources hub.

If you have a human capital need or any other need we can support, contact us here. Additionally, if you are a PE talent professional, be sure to join us and other leading PE talent professionals at our next virtual PE Human Capital Forum on May 4th by registering here.

REDIRECTED The Need for a People-Centric Approach to Business

Building and maintaining the right workforce has always been essential for successful companies, but this process has become increasingly difficult in the last two years. A tight labor market has led to surging competition for talent, and employee expectations have shifted dramatically. These factors give applicants more leverage than ever in the hiring process, which is forcing companies to rethink their HR strategies.  

Historically, most companies have approached human capital reactively: hiring when a spot is empty, mainly focusing on benefits and compliance, and so on. But with the emergence of new workforce challenges, they have had to start thinking proactively – from focusing on team compatibility and culture to appointing a chief HR officer (CHRO) who understands the company’s growth trajectory and can fuse that with the associated human capital needs.

We’ve seen this first-hand as a company that provides solutions in due diligence and value creation across industries and functions for the private equity industry, their portfolio companies, and leading independent companies. Proactive HR strategies are being prioritized like never before (in the last 30 days, HR activities made up 42.9% of all activities in the BluWave Activity Index, an increase from 39.4% last year), signaling a shift in HR operations from a “check the box” approach to one that is people-centric. 

The Increased Prominence of HR Diligence in PE Processes 

As PE firms are forced to be more proactive in the way they think about their portfolio companies’ HR strategies, many are beginning to bring more human capital-related activities into diligence. In 2021, HR activities made up 24% of all private equity diligence activities, up from 17% in 2019 according to the BluWave Activity Index.

Within PE firms’ human capital diligence activities, executive assessments are one of the most used tactics. During a time when it is increasingly hard to get the right talent in place, but also increasingly important to have strong company leaders that can build a positive company culture, executive assessments are allowing PE firms to proactively assess the fit of executives as individuals, as well as their compatibility as a team. By conducting these assessments in the diligence process, firms are able to get a head start on planning any changes that need to be made in order to get an A+ team in place – whether that be bringing in new talent or implementing new executive coaching initiatives. In a tight labor market, PE firms are discovering that the extra effort upfront to begin planning for human capital changes makes a world of difference in quickly driving sustainable success.

The Prioritization of Chief Human Resource Officers in Value Creation

Within value creation, as companies are placing an emphasis on proactive human capital initiatives, the CHRO’s value as a strategic resource has become more critical than ever. Chief Human Resource Officers are responsible for developing and executing human resource strategy for an organization, specifically in the areas of talent management and succession planning, as stated on By prioritizing this role, organizations are hiring someone that can proactively create a true HR strategy, manage employee satisfaction, and more, all with the ultimate goal of increasing employee attraction & retention.

Matthew Garff, Managing Director at Sun Capital Partners, spoke to us about their strategy to have each of their portfolio companies hire a Chief HR Officer. He says that implementing someone whose role is to marry the strategic thinking of the business with decision-making around human capital has been, “… a game-changer for our companies and enabled us to swiftly drive change and make money for the shareholders.” 

Why a People-Centric Approach Improves Employee Attraction & Retention

Ultimately, businesses across the board are discovering creative ways to make their companies more people-centric through implementing and prioritizing proactive HR strategies. From utilizing executive assessments to understand how their management team can change and improve through personnel changes or targeted training, to ensuring they have a Chief Human Resource Officer in place to own and plan for the people side of the business, companies of any shape and size can use these tactics to ensure they are being proactive in their thoughts toward the human capital side of their business. 

And when it comes down to it, these tactics are implementing a strategy that prioritizes people, which creates a positive culture. According to a 2021 article, 1 in 5 workers say that declining company culture is the main reason they are looking for a new job, proving that from its roots, the people-centric approach is helping businesses improve their employee attraction & retention rates. 



If your business needs help implementing a people-centric approach, be it through recruiting a CHRO, placing an interim CHRO, conducting HR diligence, or anything else, we are here to help. Give us a shout or use the start a project button above – our team will be happy to promptly help you drive success with ease.  


Human Capital Forum Recap | February 2022

Every quarter we bring together top PE HR and talent executives to discuss current industry topics and to offer talent leaders in private equity the chance to gather, share intel, and decompress with one another. In our most recent event, we discussed many topics and listed our top takeaways below. 

These forums follow Chatham House Rules, so listed below are high-level takeaways only. Are you in private equity and interested in joining fellow leading PE professionals during our next Human Capital Forum? RSVP for our next event on May 4th.

Talent identification & recruitment:  

  • As firms continue to struggle with portco executive talent identification & recruitment, firms are having particular success exploring non-traditional recruiting tactics in a supported way, i.e. hiring from non-PE backgrounds but providing support to skill-up the newcomers.
  • Firms are using the assessment process to understand what drives and motivates candidates and then leaning into these aspects to not only identify candidates’ strong points but to also sell the job prospect without having to lean 100% on compensation. Another tip we heard on successfully closing the deal was to provide candidates with transparency for what happens post-exit, such as having successful case studies ready to show the candidates where past execs moved after a sale.
  • Using data – firms are exploiting their CRM by skill-coding candidates and having them on-hand when perfect-fit roles open.
  • Timing is key and shortening recruiting cycles seems to be the most assured way to increase the hiring success rate. PE firms are recommending that portfolio companies implement applicant tracking systems to help standardize and streamline recruiting processes.
  • One human capital leader recommended reading “Who” by Geoff Smart.

Assessment, onboarding, & setting executives up for success: 

  • Clarity and coaching are key. Set expectations from the beginning by showing the good, the bad, and the ugly with the portco. Then, share how the firm will support the exec and what the firm expects from them.
  • Provide the exec with the tools needed to hit the ground running—internal resources, systems, supplements to their development points, etc. and then give them the space to do the job. If PE ownership requires another 40% of their time at the outset, consider external resources to do the upfront heavy lifting.
  • One participant recommended providing new hires with an internal company culture “river guide” to help them understand and navigate the unique cultures of a given company.  This is particularly helpful for new CEOs who are tasked with being change agents.
  • One human capital leader recommended reading “The First 90 Days” by Michael Watkins.

Development & retention:  

  • Use transparency in showing portco executives their development path and opportunities.
  • Firms vary on the resources they rely on for training on organizational health, leadership development, and other skills.  Many are (at least beginning) full talent reviews of exec teams of portcos and increasingly implementing this practice with internal PE fund talent.
  • Employee engagement surveys are critical to understanding cultural and organizational health over time. How to get it started? Find a partner who buys in, start with baby steps, and show measurable success.

We thoroughly enjoyed the fruitful conversations that occurred during this recent gathering of PE human capital professionals. As noted in our 2021 Annual Insights Report, human capital remains one of the top initiatives in PE, with HR-related activities surging to 39% of all PE activity in 2021. If we can be of assistance during this busy time, please let us know.

Additionally, you may be interested in checking out some of our human capital specific resources, which can be found here:

December 2021 Roundup: BluWave Client Insights

BluWave works with over 500 PE funds from around the globe, connecting them with pre-vetted, best-in-class, third-party service providers across a variety of resource and functional areas. From information technology and manufacturing to healthcare, consumer goods, and beyond, our clients are expert business builders. In other words, they have their heads in the game and their hands on the pulse of news you can use.

Check out the latest, curated collection of reports, insights, and musings from a handful of our PE fund clients on everything from differentiated investments in 2022 to The Great Resignation, cloud security, and sales enablement.

As a wrap-up to 2021, Joe Zidle from Blackstone reflects on differentiated investment opportunities in the coming year. He shares why certain global economies will weather coming headwinds better than others, why he predicts that the ability to generate alpha will increasingly drive outperformance in the US, and more.

Read more >>>

In this episode of the Private Equity Funcast, Jimmy discusses the macro trends that are driving The Great Resignation and how it is specifically impacting the middle market with Tim Schumm of Lucas James Talent Partners. They share why the middle market may be feeling the impacts of this phenomenon more acutely and tactics these businesses can implement in order to ensure they have the talent they need.

Listen to the episode >>>

Permira talks about one of their recent investments in the cloud security space and explains why enterprise workloads are increasingly moving to the cloud infrastructure. They also explain the concept of containers in the cloud and how that is forcing businesses to rethink their cybersecurity tools.

Read more >>>

Katja and Kunal from TCV share their key takeaways from a recent episode of the Growth Hacks podcast, where Scott Santucci shared why the main lesson he advises his clients to do is simplify their sales processes. They talk through the value of the commercial ratio, tips for aligning organizational economic value with the needs of your customer base, and more.

Learn more >>>


Read what some of our clients had to say last month.

The Experts Weigh In: Reflecting on Themes from 2021

One of the advantages of providing specialized solutions for more than 500 PE funds and business leaders is that we gain a 360-degree view about what is impacting portfolio companies and the private equity industry as a whole. From our hundreds of interactions with fund managers, interim executives, business leaders, and experts from across industries we learn about trends, themes, and opportunities that affect all aspects of PE. As we look ahead to 2022, we reflect on some interesting insights that we gained from our network, as well as our founder and CEO, in 2021 that point to themes to watch for in the year ahead.

Theme 1: Focus on people as core strategy

While it may seem counterintuitive in such a technology- and-data-obsessed culture, what we’ve seen the past year (with no sign of slowing down) is a commitment to focusing on talent and culture as a core part of business strategy. With an anemic and highly “flexible” job market, companies are thinking of innovative ways to attract and retain top talent in order to compete, including giving the CHRO a seat at the table.

The expert’s take: “I believe human capital is one of the most valuable assets of any successful company. End of story. We have put in place a strategy to have our portfolio companies hire a Chief HR Officer—a role that drives strategic thinking, fundamental change through processes, and design efficiencies. This person’s role is to think strategically about the business, then marry that strategic thinking with decision-making around human capital. He or she understands long-term objectives and implements a hiring strategy to meet these objectives. It was a game-changer for our companies and enabled us to swiftly drive change and make money for the shareholders.” — Matthew Garff, Managing Director at Sun Capital 

Theme 2: Public policy and its key role for PE

Recently, Congress and the current Administration have put forth measures that could affect the private equity industry and have a negative impact, particularly on women investors. The industry employs over 11 million Americans and supports thousands of small businesses; a fact that sometimes gets lost when legislators are just focused on the balance sheets of the funds.

The expert’s take: “Washington is trying to move very quickly: it’s like being in a baseball game but not knowing what inning you’re in. Oftentimes the intention of these proposals isn’t nefarious or ill-intended; rather, haste makes waste and politicians are drinking massive amounts of information from a firehose. One minute they are talking to someone like me, with a private equity agenda. The next minute, it’s someone from higher education, renewable energy, or critical infrastructure. Our job [as industry insiders and lobbyists] is to inform them about the realities and potential negative consequences in a non-incendiary way so they will actually listen; subsequently, we hope they make decisions based on the data-rich information we have provided.” — Pam Hendrickson, Vice Chair at The Riverside Company 

Theme 3: Specialized talent offers a competitive advantage

One theme that started to stand out in 2021, and will likely continue to be true for years to come, was top-level executives leaving companies in search of more flexible, specialized projects that put them in the driver’s seat. What does this mean for the PE industry? A shift in focus to interim, specialized talent who can quickly and accurately provide results during the process of due diligence, recruiting, and beyond.

The expert’s take: “The private equity industry used to be about optimizing companies to get attractive returns. Today, it’s very competitive with hundreds of sponsors participating in every auction, often paying perfect prices for imperfect companies. To stand out, PE firms need to see something that’s not in the investment bank’s book. General insights from generalist advisers don’t cut it anymore. We’re equipping our clients with specialized resources that identify unique information that gives them a fundamentally different perspective in a competitive process.” — Sean Mooney, founder/CEO of BluWave

Theme 4: Prioritization of remote work

After years of testing the idea of working from home, the last two years have catapulted the acceptance of remote work—and working from anywhere—to the top of the “normal” list. In fact, companies report that a substantial number of new employees are prioritizing the ability to work remotely even ahead of a robust benefits package.

The expert’s take: “Candidates who were fortunate enough to be employed during the pandemic but unfortunate enough to deal with the constant disruption and stress are now coming up for air and looking around for new adventures. In tandem with this ‘fancy shiny object’ job search, most candidates learned that much of their knowledge and skills could be effectively managed remotely. That’s a game-changer. Once people figured out they could live in Park City, Utah while working for a company based in New York City, many of them made substantial lifestyle changes to strike that elusive work-life balance. It almost gave people permission to shed old norms and start fresh. They went from thinking, ‘I’m going to be stuck in an office for the rest of my life,” to “holy cow, I can work on the ski slopes!’ — William Tincup, President & Editor at Large for Recruiting Daily

Theme 5: Scarcity and its future implications

One thing is certain—from supply chain to the workforce, scarcity seems to be a theme du jour, if not douze mois une année. But how troublesome is it as we move into 2022, and what can we hope for in terms of how the economy will adjust?

The expert’s take: “Usually shortages are a sign of price controls, and usually when people say ‘we don’t have enough workers’ it means that the price they have to pay is too high to get the workers. Historically, there have only been shortages when raising prices is forbidden. This happened with gas controls in the 1950s. The puzzle with today’s shortages is why don’t suppliers just raise prices? My presumption is that they are afraid of being judged as gougers either by their customers or by the government. Eventually, prices will increase, instead of the other option: not having products. It’s already starting to happen. This will help eliminate the pressure on the supply chain.” — Russ Roberts, host of EconTalk and Hoover Institute Research Fellow 

Theme 6: The rise of impact investing with a focus on ESG

Almost every investor you talk to these days, whether for a public or private company, has one thing top of mind: how are our portfolio companies performing against ESG standards, including the initiatives around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). While ESG has been an important reporting tactic for years, only in the last two has it reached the tipping point. Many firms have already seen a positive impact by investing in diverse workforce development, and it seems that it is definitely possible to have success with a triple bottom line investment thesis.

The expert’s take: “We recently made an investment in a waste management company and our investment thesis was to formalize all policies and procedures, then top grade the management team. After implementing our suggested changes, the company attracted a more diverse workforce, which in turn embraced the ‘professionalization’ of the company. This included the way the company related to and communicated with its diverse customer base. As a result, the company improved its margins, increased customer retention, and was better positioned to win larger contracts from commercial customers.” — Colleen Gurda, Founder of Riveter Capital

Theme 7: Family wealth expands into new industries through collaboration

Family wealth, most often managed by family offices with a staff of ten or fewer employees, is reaching beyond the usual suspects of real estate and legacy business toward direct investments in emerging markets. What was once thought to be “old money” is now shapeshifting with younger generations of family members at the helm, many of whom are interested in collaborating with other family offices to expand their reach.

The expert’s take: “Direct investing has been the core strategy for families for decades. What we’ve seen is an increase in collaboration between family offices that happened less regularly before. For the most part, private equity has been taking the lead on lower market buyouts; and families see the upside and potential of that. Pooling resources allows families to reduce risk [in industries they aren’t as familiar with] and take advantage of companies that land between $3M and $20M EBITDA, who are looking to sell. Families are also looking at platform plays such as buying up HVAC companies and other firms within an industry. We are also hearing a lot of talk now about ESG, and also “business drivers” both of which contribute to innovation.” — Glen Johnson, President of Membership at Family Office Exchange 

Theme 8: As consolidation continues, culture is a top priority

While company culture is certainly an important part of any organization’s success, during and after an acquisition the focus on maintaining a “healthy culture” is paramount—and is often the difference between a smooth or rocky outcome. Add-ons and consolidations will continue to be at record highs in 2022, and acquirers are best served to create a solid strategy to ensure culture remains at the top of the priority list.

The expert’s take: “Here’s what we’ve learned with nearly 75 acquisitions under our belt, some of which worked and some didn’t. First and foremost, it has to be a business fit. A lot of people will buy companies when there isn’t a reason for the companies to be together. It’s just about size and irrelevant to the core business; you see this a lot with tech companies. But it’s not only about the business fit; there also has to be a cultural fit.” — Troy Templeton, Managing Partner at Trivest Capital