Mergers in the time of a pandemic

Mark Aquilina,, Founding Partner of NOUV

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 January, 2021 at 1:18 pm by Andre Camilleri

Economically, it is not the best of times and the least a company would be expected to do is finding the predisposition for more growth. “This is why we are looking at this business acquisition of Tuning Fork not as a leap of faith but as a confirmation that our growth strategy is on the right track,” says MARK AQUILINA, Founding Partner of NOUV.

Looking back at 2020, what were the most important lessons you learned?

Looking back, I feel that one of the most important lessons I’ve learned personally is to never stop reinventing one’s self but not only as an individual but also as an organisation. I also learned that when in rough seas, instead of holding back and going slow, it is best to push the throttle, so you navigate better through the storm. I also started appreciating the importance of the occasional ‘stop and think’ exercises, which I have come to realise, are needed at least twice a year.

Where does NOUV stand today?

NOUV is a fully-fledged business advisory company in its own right. Together with my four partners, we have managed to carve a merited place in the local financial services sector as a trusted and reputable business advisory firm, led by a team of passionate professionals. We have founded this business on the principle of listening to our clients and handholding them through and through while remaining fully committed to their success. I think that what gives us strength is the fact that we make our clients, most of them business owners, know they are not alone and have a professional company backing them with objective guidance that helps them take the best business decisions.

This acquistion is happening at a time that many consider as uncertain. What led to this move?

We assist businesses and advise them on the best way forward with one simple aim: to help them grow. More importantly, we give them confidence to grow in a sustainable manner and this is only possible with a tangible strategy and clear targets. Therefore, we know very well that as a company, we too have to apply the same principles! We too, are seeking further growth and we believed that the most sustainable way to do so is by merging with a company that shares our same vision but that can complement with the strengths that we still lacked. As such, I am very eager that the coming months are going to be a very positive learning curve.

How are you personally living this experience of NOUV’s acquisition of Tuning Fork Advisory?

On a personal level, I am very much excited, because for me, this is the result of a journey which started years ago when I founded NOUV. We always wanted to position our firm as a business advisor, a go-to company that offers an integrated solution to organisations’ toughest challenges across all business functions. I am also proud to work with such a diverse team of consultants starting from James Sammut, the co- founder of Tuning Fork Advisory, who is now also a co-owner. We have a great synergy and I am very sure we will be achieving some interesting results together.

What are the main things you hope to achieve through this development?

The synergies are already showing. We enforced our Governance offerings due to the expertise of Tuning Fork Advisory on a number of standards and will have a strong internal-audit arm covering all business functions. Same for Cybersecurity and Data integration, Business Processes re-engineering. I am proud to say that we are finally able to assist local organisations in energy management, contributing to a better environment. In fact, NOUV will also extend its licensed activities, currently those of Certified Public Accountants, Practising Auditors, Licenced Company Service Providers, Certified Information Systems Auditors to include ISO IRCA Lead Auditors and Certified Energy Auditors. Through this development and obviously more to come, we will truly bring our tagline of Strategy, Change and Development to complete fruition. 

From an HR perspective, how are you planning to re-organise the company?

As a result of this acquisition, NOUV now has 45 employees and collaborators. The Partners, employees and affiliated consultants are a mix of CPAs, Finance, MBAs, IT & Management Professionals, Bankers, Environmental and Processes Engineers, Legal and Governance experts giving us a unique skill set. Although I already have a good idea on the revised governance structure, verticals, and C-Suite roles, I have now our Business Processes re-engineering team to take a 360-degree look at our structure and processes and come up with their own GAAP analysis and recommendations.

Where are you seeing NOUV going in the next few years?

I see NOUV positioning itself as a good contender in the local business advisory sphere. We want to work hand in hand with other firms, colleagues, authorities, and advisors to really bring the cultural change needed in the local scene and take our (Malta) companies to the next level. I see it a fight for survival and we certainly want to be there to assist local businesses develop further, be it by a realignment of strategy, bring in the change that matters from top to bottom or by developing further their capabilities.

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