Hunt Scanlon Ventures Looks Back At A Complex Year for M&A, Talent And The Economy

Cody Crook, managing director of Hunt Scanlon Ventures and head of the firm’s investment strategy group, spent the better part of 2023 forecasting market movements for ExitUp. His insight and analysis covered M&A trends through the lens of talent in a year that unfolded against the backdrop of an unsteady economy. Let’s take a look back!

As we approach the end of a hectic and frenetic year, our editorial team decided to take a pause this week to look back at the dynamic landscape that shaped M&A, private equity, VC, recruiting, and talent in 2023. 

Cody Crook, managing director of Hunt Scanlon Ventures and head of the firm’s investment strategy group, offered in-depth coverage throughout the year predicting market movements for ExitUp, the firm’s investment blog. His insight and analysis proved to be prophetic as the year unfolded. 

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Early in the year, Cody dissected the complexities of M&A in a changing landscape, shedding light on strategies for success amidst increasing competition and evolving business models. As the year unfolded, the predictions echoed in his insights gained validation. Despite macroeconomic headwinds and popular sentiments, Cody saw underlying threads that would lead to an intensifying M&A landscape. Reports coming later in the year from KPMG, McKinsey & Company, Morgan Stanley, Pitchbook, and Bain confirmed it.  

Agile Decision-Making

In the realm of M&A, whether it be focusing on the ongoing talent wars or the embrace of transformative technologies like AI, chief executives and the companies they run have been confronted with a pressing need for adaptability. A recurrent emphasis on focusing on proactive strategies – from human due diligence during the M&A process to the nuanced approach in attracting and retaining talent – underscores a shared recognition among industry leaders that success hinges on an organization’s ability to see around the corner and respond to change. 

This year was groundbreaking in the level of strategic foresight and agile decision-making it demanded. Acknowledging this trend, our team chose these Top 10 stories of 2023 to highlight. If you missed reading them, take a moment to catch up. If you did come across these stories as they unfolded, it might be wise to re-read them. These articles set the stage for what’s to come in 2024!

EY Survey Reveals Enthusiasm For AI Will Drive M&A Frenzy

According to new survey data from EY, CEOs in the United States are riding a wave of optimism when it comes to revenue, profits, transactions, and the potential of generative AI. Recent survey data reveals that business leaders are confidently steering their organizations towards profitability, even as economic concerns loom. While AI investments might take time to fully materialize, CEOs are convinced of the need to embark on the journey now. They, more than anyone else it seems, understand that artificial intelligence is the new linchpin of a competitive advantage. As they navigate the complexities of AI adoption, M&A, and strategic partnerships, we take a closer look.

Unlocking The Power Of Tech Talent For Enhanced Valuations

In the digital age, tech talent is indispensable for driving business valuations. According to McKinsey & Company, 89% of large companies globally have a digital and AI transformation underway, but they’ve only captured 31% of the expected revenue lift and 25% of anticipated cost savings from the effort. We unpack how to onboard this sector-specific talent, and why it’s a necessity.

Hedge Funds Set Out To Master The Talent Wars

Hedge funds are taking on modern best practices around attracting and retaining top talent. Fierce competition for the brightest minds within the alternative investment sector has been set against a backdrop of large sell-side institutions raising the ante with sharp wage hikes for junior staff and technology giants countering with promises of innovative and flexible working environments. We take a closer look at how the sector is embracing new models and technologies to become more people competitive.

Talent Flight: Mitigating The Hidden Risk Of An M&A Deal

In the ultra-competitive world of M&A, bleeding talent through the acquisition process can be a serious concern. In today’s labor market, experienced and proficient employees have plenty of prospects. With talent in high demand, the risk of flight is more serious than ever. With fresh insight from KPMG, we examine an often-overlooked risk of the M&A process.

From Growth To Exit: How Executive Search Firms Are Unlocking Value

Executive search firm founders are raising capital, seeking PE growth partners, merging, and acquiring rivals to stay competitive during one of the industry’s most dynamic periods. “Consolidation among competitors has been reshaping the industry for a number of years now,” said Cody Crook, managing director of Hunt Scanlon Ventures. “But the complete paradigm shift we are now seeing across the space is leading to an extraordinary readjustment. It is something our firm has not seen in more than three decades of tracking the industry.” Let’s go inside the latest thinking.

Managing Complex M&A: Strategies For Success In A Changing Landscape

As the world of business shifts into greater complexity, M&A is becoming more difficult to carry out successful post deal integration and more necessary for long term performance. According to KPMG, traditional markets and business models have been upended as powerful competitors emerge from unexpected directions. M&A has, therefore, become the primary method for retaining a competitive advantage as markets shift at an accelerating rate. We explore why talent retention is mission critical for successful M&A.

Morgan Stanley Forecasts Sharp Business Rebound In 2024 And 2025

New research from Morgan Stanley predicts a sharp economic rebound ahead for the next two years, following a soft 2023. Is this the big comeback that we have all been waiting for? Hunt Scanlon Ventures managing director, Cody Crook, looks at what a market upswing will mean for human capital markets. His advice: Get ready now.

The Outsized Role That PE, VC And Tech Play In Executive Recruiting 

According to new data from Thrive and Hunt Scanlon Media, we are beginning to see a shifting environment for headhunters. PE and VC talent needs are changing, and tech itself is in transition. But silver linings and potential upswings remain. We dive into the latest data and examine how the PE, VC and tech sectors have consistently played an outsized role in the expansion of the search industry for much of the last decade.

‘Market Shift’ For Executive Recruiters Will Not Shrink Valuations For Founder-Led Exits

According to Pitchbook’s latest findings, founder-led businesses comprised 85% of M&A activity earlier this year, an all-time high, as PE firms balked at the idea of selling portfolio companies for lower prices. Hunt Scanlon Ventures managing director, Cody Crook, unpacks what it all means for executive search firm founders considering their next move.

Bain's 2023 PE Outlook Report

Examining Bain’s 2023 PE Outlook Report, With An Eye On Talent

Market uncertainty appeared to be the main takeaway from Bain’s private equity outlook report this year. According to the report’s authors, as buyers, sellers, and lenders all wait for economic clarity, unpredictability will continue to act as a cap on deal activity. Yet, optimism prevails. Hunt Scanlon Ventures managing director, Cody Crook, examines the immediate impact that talent will have on the sector when markets rebound.

Article By

Cody Crook

Cody Crook

Managing Director, Hunt Scanlon Ventures

Cody Crook is managing director and head of investment strategy at Hunt Scanlon Ventures - an M&A advisory firm that specializes in the human capital space. Cody is responsible for co-managing the firm's investment portfolio, which includes executive search, talent acquisition, private equity, and investment firms. Leading the investment team, he spearheads all fund transactions and maintains portfolio developments. He is also responsible for sourcing, managing and monitoring investments and working with external portfolio managers, analysts and investors on active and prospective transactions. Connect with Cody.

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