Ernst & Young acquires Ottawa-based Halo Management Consulting

Halo
Halo's Leigh Harris. File photo.

Global accounting giant Ernst & Young has acquired a leading Ottawa consulting firm in a bid to bolster the services it offers to clients in the government and non-profit sectors.

EY announced this week that Halo Management Consulting is folding its operations into EY’s Ottawa office. Halo’s 10 permanent employees are now working for EY, while founder Leigh Harris has become a partner in EY’s government and public sector practice.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

In a news release, EY said the move will help it deliver “more creative and robust solutions” to its public-sector clients.

Founded in 2013, Halo quickly became a dominant force in the government consulting space.

The firm landed on OBJ’s list of fastest-growing companies in 2016 after posting three-year revenue growth of more than 340 per cent. The company offered management consulting services to a wide range of government agencies and departments as well as some private-sector clients such as Rogers.

In a 2016 interview, Harris credited the firm’s success to its use of “systems thinking” and putting issues into the context of how they affect many different parts of complex organizations.

“You have to understand the whole environment and you have to take a holistic approach to how you apply solutions and build solutions,” she said at the time. “This is not a rinse-and-repeat strategy.”

On Tuesday, Harris told OBJ the deal with EY opens the door for her and her former staffers to do more work on a national scale thanks to being part of a much larger organization with a more expansive network of customers. According to OBJ’s Book of Lists, EY ranks No. 4 among the city’s accounting firms with 233 local employees.

Other companies had approached her in the past about a potential merger, she said, but the quality of EY’s workforce and its reputation as a leading provider of strategic advice in cutting-edge fields such as supply chain management, digital transformation and blockchain applications convinced her it was time to join forces with a bigger partner.

“I didn’t want to take my team, my clients, and EY, for that matter, down a path that didn’t make sense,” Harris said. “What I like about EY is (it’s) really tackling the tough problems.”

Calling Halo’s five-year run “an absolutely fantastic experience,” she said she’s now looking forward to providing her expertise to an even broader range of clients in the government and not-for-profit space, adding she expects the year ahead to be full of new opportunities.

“I think that we’re going to have an even better story to tell then,” Harris said.