Furash & Co., a prominent consulting firm that has counseled hundreds of banks on ways to prepare for the future, is taking some of its own advice.
The Washington-based firm has agreed to be acquired by AFGL International Inc., a New York company with marketing, public relations, and executive search arms. The deal, announced Thursday, is expected to close by Jan. 31.
Furash & Co. will retain its name and management as a subsidiary of AFGL, said Edward E. Furash, the firm's chairman. No cuts are planned in the firm's work force of 35 consultants and 15 to 20 associates.
Mr. Furash, who founded the company in 1980 after working at Shawmut Bank and Golembe Associates, described the merger as a way to diversify and keep in step with changes sweeping financial services, notably the convergence of the banking and securities industries.
"The consolidation of the banking industry is bringing about a substantial change in the nature of consulting to that industry," Mr. Furash said.
He said bankers want from their consultants both the intimacy of what small firms like Furash offer, and the depth and breadth of a larger company. Mergers like this are "a way for the boutique consultants to battle it out with the behemoths," Mr. Furash added.
He said the transaction should provide significant benefits to Furash & Co.'s bank clients. For instance, Furash & Co. will be able to draw on AFGL's advertising, hiring, and sales expertise in helping clients implement strategic plans.
Other service enhancements are on the horizon, Mr. Furash said. AFGL "is essentially being developed as a holding company for a variety of brand- name consulting firms. We'll be making acquisitions in the future. We're looking for acquisitions now."
While Furash & Co. has clients in both the banking and securities industry, it caters primarily to the nation's 300 largest banks. It has also been commissioned to conduct major studies for trade groups, such as a report last year for the Bankers Roundtable that warned that the banking industry was in danger of losing control of its payment systems.
AFGL is better known in the securities sphere, where its clients include CS First Boston, Bear Stearns, and G.T. Global.
Unlike Furash & Co., which has offices in Washington only, AFGL is in New York, San Francisco, London, and Tokyo.