We’re Serving Up Consulting BUZZ!

Our leaders at Croixstone spend time each week speaking at length with clients, prospects and consultants across the greater Charlotte region and beyond. We’re often asked the following questions by those in our professional networks.

What’s the buzz out there?
What is top of mind for companies in 2021?
What are you hearing from consultants?

Here’s a bulleted list, in no particular order, of the things we are hearing and seeing from clients, prospects and consultants.

  • Hiring is difficult.  The economy is rebounding, hiring is up, and it is increasingly difficult to fill roles with top-tier talent.  The latest Workforce Report from LinkedIn provides insights into the hiring boom.
  • SPACs are hot, hot, hot.  Special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) IPOs were more active in Q1 2021 than through all of 2020.
  • ERP implementation activity is robust.  Many of our clients are planning ERP implementations to go live in 2022.  The global ERP software market size stood at USD 38.15 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach USD 71.63 billion by 2026, exhibiting a CAGR of 8.55.
  • COVID-19 trauma is an ongoing issue.  Employers are dealing with employee pandemic stress that is inevitably spilling over into at-work life.

Improve Your LinkedIn InMail Game

Tips to Optimize LinkedIn InMail

Fast Company magazine recently published an informative article with tips on how to drive outcomes with InMail (LinkedIn’s messaging platform).  The article shared insights based on an analysis LinkedIn completed of tens of millions of InMails sent by recruiters globally between April 2020 and February 2021.  Interestingly, the study revealed which InMails were likely to get a fast response.

Here’s a recap of the key findings:

  • Shorter is better.  Those that delivered their InMail messages between 201-400 characters got a 16% higher than average response rate and 41% better than InMails with more than 1,400 characters.
  • Monday is the best day.  Monday gets a 2% higher response rate while Saturday accounts for 13% fewer responses.
  • Personalization matters.   Personalized InMails perform 20% better.

Learn more here.


We are Purple Podcasting!

Listen to Croixstone’s leaders on the Project Purple Podcast

For our CEO, Patti Weber, it is her father.
For our Senior Manager of Business Operations, Grace Lynch, it is her niece.
For our Managing Partner, Mark Weber, it is his mother.

To know Croixstone is to know that each of our three leaders have been touched in a very personal way by pancreatic cancer, the USA’s third leading cause of cancer-related deaths.

In January of 2020, Patti, Grace and Mark launched the Charlotte Pancreatic Cancer Alliance, a nonprofit community group that raises awareness for the disease.  Last week, the three leaders shared the stories of their loved ones and their new community group on the Project Purple Podcast, ranked #1 on Feedspot’s “Top 10 Pancreatic Cancer Podcasts You Must Follow in 2020.”

Listen here.


Insights into the Middle Market

Croixstone is laser focused on providing expertise to serve the middle market, defined as those companies with annual revenues between $10 million and $1 billion.  The National Center for the Middle Market recently published new data and insights on this important sector of the economy that we found interesting.

  • While representing barely 3% of all U.S. businesses, the middle market is responsible for 1/3 of private sector GDP and employment.
  • If the U.S. middle market were its own country, it would be the fifth-largest economy in the world.
  • During the pre-pandemic era from 2012-2019, average revenue growth for midsize companies was 6.5% and average employment growth was 4.3%.
  • A Q4 2020 middle market survey showed that average revenue declined by 1.2% and employment dropped by 2.2% over the prior 12 months.
  • While the pandemic negatively impacted the middle market, the sector overall performed better than small businesses and large corporations.
  • Middle market companies are typically very resilient, however, the ongoing pandemic presents a serious challenge on how to maintain customer engagement and connectivity. 

Learn more here.


The Rise of the PORTFOLIO Career

Much like COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of digital transformation, future of work experts are seeing a rise in the pervasiveness of professionals with “portfolio careers.”

Ben Legg is an engineer, serial CEO of global digital businesses, former COO of Google Europe, and former McKinsey consultant.  He believes the portfolio career is a continuation of the automation of work and is here to stay. 

Croixstone’s business model is built around our deep understanding of the portfolio professional.  So what is a portfolio career? 

  • A portfolio career isn’t reliant on a single source of income.
  • Income is derived from serving multiple clients that might include project work, consulting engagements, interim roles and/or board roles.
  • Unlike a “gig economy worker,” a portfolio career is thoughtfully put together and is focused on offering differentiated services in order to maximize earnings.

Learn more about portfolio career insights from Ben Legg.


The BOOMING U.S. Solar Market

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie have published their latest quarterly report that provides insights into major trends in the fast-growing U.S. solar industry.  Here are some key factoids that caught our attention in reviewing the report.

  • Solar accounted for 43% of all new electricity-generating capacity added in the U.S. in 2020.
  • Solar capacity added in 2020 was more than 43% greater than the capacity added in 2019.
  • The utility solar sector set the record for the most capacity installed in a single year in 2020.
  • Over the next decade, an estimated cumulative 324 GWdc of solar capacity will be added which is more than three times greater than what has been installed through 2020.
  • Solar capacity growth will be spread across all market segments as distributed solar customers, utilities, states and corporations push to decarbonize the grid.

Learn more here.


Croixstone Welcomes Grace Lynch

Croixstone is excited to announce today that Grace Lynch has joined our team in the newly-created role of Senior Manager, Business Operations.

Grace is an operations and process expert who drives business outcomes for fast-growth and transformative organizations.  Her background includes nearly two decades at Wells Fargo during the bank’s growth spree where she served in the Office of the President and provided leadership focused on problem resolution and process optimization.

Grace also performed due diligence and integration activities for mergers and acquisitions.  She served as a leader in the bank’s credit risk area and worked in a number of other roles in customer service and branch operations.

Grace has supported the Charlotte region’s nonprofit and faith communities in leadership roles with the Charlotte Affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and Assurance United Methodist Church.  As a social innovator, Grace is a co-founder of the Charlotte Pancreatic Cancer Alliance.

Grace holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree in Finance and Economics from Augusta University.

We invite you to visit Grace’s profile on LinkedIn to learn more about her professional background and impressive accomplishments.


CEOs Are Seeing Happy Days Ahead

PwC surveyed 5,050 CEOs in 100 countries and territories over January and February 2021 for the firm’s 24th Annual Global CEO survey.  The findings?  A record 76% of global business leaders predict that economic growth will improve this year.

Survey Highlights

  • 57% of US CEOs plan to pursue new M&A in the next 12 months
  • 63% of US CEOs plan to launch a new product or service in the next 12 months
  • 77% of global CEOs are seeking operational efficiencies as a top priority over the next 12 months
  • 48% of US CEOs plan to increase their investments in cybersecurity & data privacy (with 30% planning to increase investments by 10% or more)
  • More than 22% of US CEOs say they’re adopting new environmental, social & governance (ESG) disclosure standards

Learn more here.


2021 is Proving to be Another “SPAC-tacular” Year.

It is nearly impossible to read an article about Wall Street without coming across a mention about SPACs.  For those not familiar with the term, Investopedia defines SPAC as “a special purpose acquisition company with no commercial operations that is formed strictly to raise capital through an initial public offering (IPO) for the purpose of acquiring an existing company.”

Here are some interesting SPACs facts.

  • SPACs are often referred to as “blank check” companies.
  • While SPACs have been around for years, their popularity soared last year with their IPO fundraising hitting a record $83 billion (compared with $13.6 billion in 2019 and $10.7 billion in 2018).
  • SPAC activity in 2021 is far outpacing last year’s record year.  So far in 2021, SPAC IPO fundraising has hit a record $64 billion.
  • In 2020, the average SPAC IPO size was $335 million for 248 listings.
  • So far in 2021, the average SPAC IPO size is $317 million for 202 listings.
  • According to PwC, one of the primary reasons for last year’s SPAC spree was the market entry of high-profile SPAC sponsors with experienced management teams.
  • PwC also cited the fact that SPACs offer an exit opportunity for private equity owners looking to cash out on their investment in the private company target in a shorter timeframe than in a traditional IPO.

Here are some SPACs links to help expand your knowledge.

Learn SPAC 101 from CNBC.

Read about the benefits and challenges of a SPAC in this PwC article.

Visit SPACInsider to keep current on SPAC news and statistics.


Management Consulting Factoids + Trends

The team at ReportLinker (a tech-driven market research firm) has published a new report entitled “Management Consulting Services Global Market 2021:  COVID-19 Impact and Recovery to 2030.”  Highlights of the report include:

  • The global management consulting services market is expected to grow from $819.79 billion in 2020 to $895.46 billion in 2021.
  • This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.2%.
  • The market is expected to reach $1201.06 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 8%.
  • While COVID-19 constrained growth in the industry in 2020, it is expected that management consulting will recover from the shock.

Learn more here.