Principals: Tom Ryan, CEO (pictured); and Don Duffy, president
Offices: Beijing; Boston; Hong Kong; New York; Norwalk, Connecticut; and San Francisco
Subsidiary: ICR Capital
ICR’s revenue growth hit a standstill in 2016 due to a weak performance from capital markets for initial public offerings, a key driver of revenue for the firm, says CEO Tom Ryan.
The only other year ICR did not experience revenue growth in its 19-year history was 2009, amid the global financial crisis, he notes. The firm achieved revenue growth of less than 1% in 2016.
Ryan says while the mergers and acquisitions market was robust, the IPO market dramatically slowed toward the end of 2015 and throughout most of last year, meaning it could not replace large accounts won in 2015 with one-time fees.
Highs and lows of IPOs
"The IPO market shut down in the latter part of 2015 through most of 2016, so we really weren’t able to recreate those one-time fees in 2016 and grow on top of that," he explains. "The good news is the IPO market is kind of back. We’re back to our normalized growth rate so far in early Q1."
In 2016, ICR closed its Los Angeles office because it was cheaper for its half-dozen staffers in the city to telecommute instead. Ryan says the firm did not lay off any staffers throughout the business as a result of a lack of revenue growth.
"We’re not panicking and terminating people because we know the market is going to come back," he explains. "I’m not bashful about having a flat year. It happens. The key is to be out front with it and explain what’s going on."
Significant accounts won include Avon, Under Armour, Hostess, and Mobileye, which Intel plans to acquire. However, ICR lost business from Luvo, which ended after only a year, Malibu Boats, and Landwin Reality Trust, among others. The total number of retained clients decreased from 459 to 449.
With a slumping IPO market, ICR made up for the loss in revenue by selling more services to its client base.
"The best way to generate growth is to meet more needs of existing clients, because from time to time it can be tough to get new ones," Ryan says.
The firm also rolled out a digital marketing practice under the leadership of MD Tim Kane at the end of 2016. Its healthcare practice rebranded as ICR HealthCare to better define its offering. Anton Nicholas, Phil Denning, and Bo Park were named partners in early 2017. And John Mills was promoted to managing partner in 2016.
A number of clients work with ICR through its ICR Capital subsidiary, which launched in 2015. ICR Capital allows clients to pay the firm out of the gross spread taken by the investment bankers for an IPO assignment.