Eyeing a void in the consulting space, William (Bill) Cline has left Accenture, the global consulting firm, to found Acai Solutions, a deep-domain capital markets consultancy located in New York. With the large consulting firms shifting their focus to outsourcing, Cline explains, he felt there was a void in the maket that Acai could fill.
"You've got two extremes in the industry," says Cline, who will serve as a managing partner at Acai. "You've got the large diversified firms that have shifted a lot of their attention to outsourcing; then you've got the micro-boutiques that are kind of one-trick ponies and don't have the staying power to be considered by the larger participants," he asserts. "We wanted to stake out a middle ground and to focus exclusively on capital markets and on areas that align with macro-spending trends in the industry," such as regulation and compliance, Cline adds.
Cline's partner at Acai is Ron Stein, who has held senior IT positions at Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch. "I'm the delivery guy," says Stein. "Bill is the strategic thinker."
Both men crossed paths at Andersen Consulting in the 1990s, but Stein left to join BT AlexBrown (acquired by Deutsche Bank) in equity worldwide systems. In 2000, Stein founded MPI Professionals, a financial service IT consultancy, which he sold a year and a half ago to CGI AMS, a $3 billion consulting and outsourcing firm in Canada.
Seize the Day
Acai already has hired 16 people and is running between $2 million and $3 million in annualized revenues, according to Cline. "We envision growing rapidly because I think the market demand and the opportunity is now," he says. The firm will focus on order management systems (OMSs) and execution management systems (EMSs), transaction cost analysis (TCA) and the trading space; enterprise data management, exchanges and alternative trading systems; the risk and regulatory space; as well as the wealth management and asset management spectrum, Cline notes.
In addition, Acai will have the freedom to pursue ventures or collaborations with clients. "Many of the market participants have assets they have developed internally that they want to monetize," notes Cline. "I was limited in being able to pursue such ventures at my former company." Cline served as the global managing partner of Accenture's capital markets practice for the past eight years of his 13-year tenure with the company.
Stein adds that he also sees the potential to create service offerings such as hedge fund servicing, data management, and trading and transaction management services. "We don't want to be a straight consultant," he explains. "We are looking to partner with the client."
Though Acai will not offer outsourcing services, "It's a fact of life and it's here to stay," says Cline. "Many firms are looking for advice on what to outsource, if anything, and if so, how and why," he continues. "By being a pure-play capital markets consultancy, we can be agnostic and we can be that trusted adviser."