Since becoming a partner at Plante Moran in 2014, Michele McHale has more than doubled the revenue from the private equity practice.
McHale, who joined the Southfield, Michigan-based accounting firm 11 years ago after serving as a company controller, says that about half of Plante Moran’s PE deals involve specialty healthcare practices in dentistry, dermatology, gastroenterology and physical therapy, and that most range between $20 million and $200 million. One recent high point: She advised a large physicians’ practice management platform on more than 100 add-on acquisitions.
But among her middle market clients, McHale says the days of focusing on a single platform investment are waning. Instead, clients are adopting buy-and-build strategies and growing through acquisitions.
“In the middle market,” McHale maintains, “there are fewer opportunities for finding that big platform and then growing it organically.” With the market is so frothy, she says disciplined buyers are buying up smaller companies at lower Ebitda multiples and then combining them to create larger companies with higher multiples. But to do this, she adds, they have to be very good at buying and integrating operations.
For women considering a career in financial services, McHale urges them to find a good mentor and not to be put off by private equity.
“I do think [private equity] gets a bad rap,” she says. “I think people are only thinking Gordon Gekko, and don’t really have the broader understanding of how private equity is driving growth in our economy and the good things that it does.”
McHale is a member of ACG New York and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. She has a bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University.