Kanata consulting company A Hundred Answers merges with national accounting firm MNP

A major player in the Ottawa management consulting scene has announced it is merging with one of the country’s largest accounting firms in an effort to expand its national presence.

A Hundred Answers, a Kanata firm that provides services ranging from human resources management consulting to software and website support, said Friday it is combining its operations with Calgary-based MNP LLP as of Oct. 1.

Under the deal, A Hundred Answers' owners will acquire a stake in MNP, with CEO Sean Murphy and other top executives becoming partners in the combined firm.

All of the Kanata company’s more than 50 employees will be absorbed into MNP's local operations and the Hundred Answers name will be gradually phased out over the next few years.

Those employees will continue to work out of A Hundred Answers' current headquarters on March Road for the time being, but the firms' Ottawa offices will eventually be combined. 

Mr. Murphy said Friday his company felt it had grown as much as it could organically and needed to combine forces with a bigger player in order to expand its reach into other Canadian markets. MNP has in excess of 3,500 employees in more than 75 offices from coast to coast.

“We’ve been in Ottawa for the last number of years, and I think we looked at this merger as a way for us to go national in a really big way,” Mr. Murphy said. “MNP is a great partner for us to do that.”

MNP executive vice-president for Ontario and Quebec Jeremy Cole said the merger helps further the company’s long-term goal of offering a wider range of services to compete with multinational professional services firms such as Accenture and Deloitte.

It’s the second time this year MNP has pulled the trigger on a merger with an Ontario professional services firm. In April, it combined with Mississauga-based cybersecurity company NCI.

“It’s just continually adding to our portfolio of services, particularly on the technology (consulting) side,” Mr. Cole said. “The service line that A Hundred Answers provides gives us another business area that we as a firm can exploit for our clients.”

Founded in 2009, A Hundred Answers now has a client roster that includes several federal government departments as well as private corporations such as WestJet. With the company doing more and more work outside Ottawa in markets such as Toronto and Calgary, Mr. Murphy said the merger provides a springboard to reach customers nationwide.

“It became challenging being a mid-size company but still a smaller player in the professional services game,” he said.

“We need to up our game and see how we can continue to grow and get national in a really big way. For us to be able to do that within a larger organization made a lot of sense.”

MNP has provided accounting services to A Hundred Answers for the past few years, Mr. Murphy said, so the two companies were already well acquainted with each other even before merger talks began.

In the end, the deal came together “quite quickly” over the summer, he said.

“They weren’t the only company we were talking to,” Mr. Murphy said, adding the firm's management group had considered a number of potential partners in the IT and software spaces.

“As we started through this process, it became quite evident to us that there’s a cultural fit there (with MNP) in terms of style, the sense of growth and entrepreneurial spirit.”

Mr. Cole echoed those thoughts.

“We saw (A Hundred Answers) as a fast-growing company with values and a culture similar to that of MNP,” he said. “We felt our two companies together would be better than if we were separate.”

Mr. Cole also said the firm will continue to pursue partnerships with other accounting and professional services consulting firms in the Ottawa region as part of its growth strategy.

“We’re not done,” he said.