Perhaps buried - and please pardon the pun - amidst last week's freak snowstorm that ravaged the Eastern seaboard and left nearly 3 million without power - including yours truly - was that there was, not to oversimplify and yield to hyperbole - a blizzard of M&A activity to close out October.

"Wow" would be a sort of understated onomatopoeia to accurately reflect the frenzy of recent firm betrothals capped by the blockbuster marriage of Top 20 firms Clifton Gunderson and LarsonAllen, which created an imposing half-billion dollar entity with more an 80 offices and 3,500 employees. The new allied brand CliftonLarsonAllen, effectively vaults them to a Top 10 firm and squarely in the competitive wheelhouse of BDO, CBIZ and Crowe Horwath.

To put this recent M&A activity in numerical and editorial perspective, AccountingToday.com has posted TWELVE merger stories since October 27. And no, that's not a misprint.

Joining Clifton-Larson in swelling their bricks and mortar, client niches and staff portfolios via mergers were JH Cohn, BDO, Henry & Horne, Glass Jacobson and DBC.

And those are just the ones that we wrote about - no doubt there were some smaller unions that slipped under the radar.

I took some time to research our story archives in an effort to determine if this was an anomaly or a repetitive merger cycle that surfaces every couple of years. The closest I could find to that compressed timeline was four.

As some of you may know, we held our second annual Growth and Profitability Summit in Las Vegas last week and I'm certain it was no coincidence that M&A was one of the most heavily attended session tracks during the two-day confab.

It doesn't take a veteran observer to point out that there's a lot of interested buyers searching for willing sellers.

Whether it's a lack of succession plans, a partner split or a firm looking to expand its expertise into new practice areas, there are probably as many reasons for firms to consider merging as there are mergers.

One source told me their firm (a regional firm on the East Coast) held two days of meetings just to determine whether it made more sense to merge upstream or downstream. I doubt that these brainstorming sessions are relegated to a single firm.

Over the past several years, I've heard disparate projections on the future of M&A within the profession. Some predict a glut, while others maintain that it will eventually winnow down.

If the past several years serve as any kind of barometer, it doesn't appear to be slowing down by any measure.

Not unlike the weather. 

 

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