We aim to be the undisputed leader by acquiring deals and projects that matter within our priority ecosystems, through delivering premium high-quality services.
The impact of COVID-19 continued from the end of the previous financial year into 2020/2021. The effect of the pandemic on Financial Advisory’s Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) Service Lines was particularly strong, but we saw a recovery beginning to take effect from the second quarter of this year onwards. This set in motion a substantial catching-up process. There is still economic growth in the market as well as a considerable amount of money, especially among private equity funds, and many clients are now aiming to look beyond the crisis, targeting growth to improve their position. This can be done independently or through acquisition and our expertise lies in assisting clients with both pathways. Acquisition, which is especially popular among our M&A services, is doing particularly well as we begin the new financial year.
Despite challenging circumstances, we have seen solid growth over the past year and we expect this growth to continue into the new year. Quality and the acceleration of innovation are important factors in this respect, and these are themes to which we are continuously committed.
Our M&A services are in high demand from the market. All our teams – Transaction Services, Debt Advisory, Corporate Finance and Valuations and Modelling – are benefiting from this, in particular our Transaction Services and our services in the field of (Mega) carve-outs. Developments in the entire M&A market continued to advance rapidly in 2020/2021 and we are keeping pace with them. Our focus areas within M&A are the entire lifecycle of M&A in close cooperation with other Deloitte businesses, from M&A strategy to Commercial Due Diligence, Acquisition Financing and Post-Merger Integration.
Forensic experienced strong growth (+35%) in 2020/2021. The issues we investigate are becoming increasingly complex and covering more areas. In the past, it mainly targeted the financial sector, now it is also spreading into the corporate sector. We are investing heavily in technological developments; not only out of necessity but also to keep our high-quality services affordable for our clients. We expect these developments to enable us to take on double the volume of work in our Forensic services by 2023.
"We are investing heavily in technological developments; not only out of necessity but also to keep our high-quality services affordable for our clients."
Our Real Estate services were also in high demand given, among others, the booming residential market in the Netherlands and overall high interest in Real Estate by companies, investors and government alike. We also coordinated the sale of Axiom (a data sharing platform for real estate owners) and developed initiatives for the Deloitte Impact Foundation, including a programme to help the homeless. A new important segment that has grown in size for us is Family Offices which fits perfectly within our strategy.
This year, we invested more in the technology and digitalisation of our Benefits and Pension Advisory services to help our clients prepare for the consequences of the Pension Agreement in the Netherlands, which has been definitively adopted by Dutch cabinet and its social partners. As we expect substantial growth in this area, we have appointed a new partner specialised in Pensions and Benefits to expand our services.
Like Deloitte, our clients operate internationally and are always on the lookout for opportunities to grow further. Intensive cooperation between the various specialised services in and beyond Financial Advisory support this, and we are constantly creating new partnerships to bring our joint expertise to the client and maximise the value of our impact.
In the past financial year, we invested in a more inclusive culture and a diverse workforce. While these developments are making progress, it needs to happen faster and we recognise this as a challenge for our business. The well-being of our staff is another challenge, especially in light of near-universal homeworking in 2020/2021. We need to support people so they perform consistently and at a high level, but we also need to maintain a sense of belonging and a collegiate atmosphere, despite the distances imposed by the pandemic.
The current labour market is a further challenge, but we continued to succeed in attracting talent from different backgrounds this year. We are committed to improving the balance between male and female talent in the coming years. More female partners have joined M&A and the overall influx of new employees into the organisation is positive. We aim to give both attracting and retaining talent our full attention.
We see significant opportunities for Financial Advisory where we will continue to make additional investments, namely our services in multidisciplinary M&A, forensic, mega carve-outs, infrastructure and the financial services industry. In addition, sustainability is a key focus area in all our Service Lines form sustainable finance, to sustainability due diligence and preventing 'greencrime'.
To realise our growth, we will work to attract diverse talent in the coming years. We see that the overall inflow of new employees into the organisation is very positive. We strive for more diverse leadership. Both attracting and retaining talent have our full attention.;