September/October 2016

Turnaround Managers’ Survey: The Good News: Bank Referrals Fuel Turnaround Activity The Bad News: Compared to Last Year, Fewer Opportunities Expected

Turnaround managers expect fewer opportunities than they did one year ago, according to data from our 2016 Turnaround Manager’s survey. On the bright side, banks continue to provide the most referrals to turnaround managers.



In this year’s Turnaround Manager’s Survey, senior members of the turnaround community provided insights into the changes that have affected the business in the past year. The outlook for potential opportunities from the lender community was somewhat subdued compared to last year’s optimism. The year-over-year change was rather dramatic, with only 25.9% expecting more opportunities from lenders this year versus 38.5% last year.
Regarding current staffing levels, 37% of the respondents employed more full time turnaround professionals than one year ago, an increase from the 28% reported last year. Going forward, 44% plan to increase staffing levels and only 7% plan a corresponding decrease. The balance (48%) expect staffing levels to be “about the same” as this year.

More than 25% of participants indicated either they were planning to venture beyond the shores of the U.S. (7%) or are planning to expand an already established foreign presence (19%). Last year’s respondents, as a group, indicated no interest in initiating an international expansion, with only 15% planning to increase an existing foreign presence.

Bank referrals were the top source of new business activity for 37% of respondents, with referrals from law or accounting firms coming in second at 26%. The results last year were similar, with 36% reporting the most referrals from banks followed by law or accounting firms and client referrals tied at 21%.

Expectations for 2017

Turnaround managers struck a more positive note regarding their expectations for 2017. The majority (85%) expect to see either more opportunities (48%) or the same level of activity (37%) versus only 15% who expect fewer opportunities. By way of comparison, only 10% of last year’s group expected fewer opportunities in 2016 versus 56% who anticipated more and 33% who indicated no change. It would seem that a somewhat positive outlook is tempered by a less than robust forecast, given the negative change on both ends of the spectrum.

Concerns

When pinpointing a greatest cause for concern, this year’s survey revealed substantially more emphasis on the pace of economic recovery (48%) compared to last year (28%). Equal weight (48%) was given to the reluctance of lenders to call defaults, down from 69% last year. Bank regulatory or compliance complaints ranked third with 37% versus 21% last year. Other concerns included a dearth of filings and excess liquidity at 11% and 15%, respectively, compared to 18% and 33% in 2015.

Industry Sectors/Opportunities

Survey respondents also chose sectors that would most likely provide turnaround or restructuring opportunities. By a wide margin, retail and energy-related services scored highest with 63% and 56%, respectively, up from 33% and 54% one year ago. On the flip side, construction/real estate and hi-tech scored lowest at 11% and 7%, respectively, this year, down from 21% and 18% a year earlier.

About the Survey

We invited about 250 senior managers from firms generally considered to be the leaders in the field of turnaround and restructuring. The data is based on responses from 27 firms, including: AlixPartners, Focus Management, Via Strategy Group, Alvarez and Marsal, JPG Advisors, FTI Consulting, Atlas Partners, Phoenix Management, Morris Anderson, Getzler Henrich, Huron Consulting Group, ARG Recovery, Arch Beam and Waterfield.