Comparing the Best M&A Conferences & Trade Organizations

Gabe Galvez

Please note that all of these group offer a slew of services and incentives online. The notes below are specific to physically attending trade shows only.

M&A Source/IBBA

Of the various trade shows listed here, M&A Source is the most friendly and casually paced. With a loyal following and smaller membership pool, M&A Source is less about meeting new buyers and more about learning alongside your contemporaries.

Their events do a lot to help new intermediaries hone skills and help more mature independent intermediaries stay abreast of best practices. Most of the attendees are sell side advisors representing regional boutique shops.

Feel: Afterwork networking with buddies. Hometown.
Price Range: Inexpensive.
Frequency: Twice yearly split between Eastern and Western conferences.
Who Should Attend: Lower middle market advisors (and business brokers) who are looking to further professional development.

AM&AA

AM&AA is evolving quickly, moving from an M&A Source contemporary to a slightly upmarket player. Keynote speaker quality and member growth are driving improvements to their platform. Expect to see a similar pool of faces year over year, with a heavier PE presence than M&A Source while still mixed as M&A heavy.

Locations tend to be a bit higher end, but should be expected for the price. As facilitators of the CM&AA certification process, many attendees are there to accrue continuing credits or take continuing education.

Feel: Slightly upmarket from M&A Source but still friendly and collegiate.
Price Range: Middle of the pack.
Frequency: Chapter events held monthly. Summer conference in Chicago, IL. Winter conference somewhere warm.
Who Should Attend: Folks looking to attain or renew CM&AA designation. Intermediaries looking to pitch a small group of PE groups loyal to AM&AA.

ACG

ACG does a great job blending an audience of LPs, PE firms, bankers and service providers into one group. Intergrowth and chapter events alike are held at premier venues that are well appointed. Keynote speakers include former Presidents, major business personalities etc.

There are times where events are worth attending just to watch the Keynote speaker. The PE to M&A ratio is likely even or skewed to favor PE firms. Between the speed pitching, and great networking venues, ACG feels like a place where deals are getting done in real time.

Feel: Corporate, formal and professional.
Price Range: More expensive. Comparable to Buy Outs.
Frequency: Chapter events held monthly. Intergrowth held annually. Eurogrowth held annually.
Who Should Attend: Upmarket local power networkers (for chapter events). People pitching or being pitched on a deal (for large annual events).

PE Hub / Buyouts

PE Hub events are known for being tightly curated and very intimate. Expect meaningful participation from decision makers with much less noise from service providers and tertiary attendees. Events are formal and the overall feel is a bit more traditional than ACG. PE Hub events feel PE-focused, with M&A intermediary participation being much more modest than other events mentioned here.

Feel: Intimate, well curated mature personal connections
Price Range: Expensive.
Frequency: Periodic events segmented by attendee type (LP’s, Family Office etc.). Buy Outs West and East held annually.
Who Should Attend: Lower middle market advisors (and business brokers) who are looking to further professional development.

Which event is best to spend your marketing or professional development budget on? That is up to you!

Each group has carved out a nice niche within the broader industry. However, it is worth noting that after years of attending these conferences off and on, we have not seem as much overlap in attendance as one might think. That said, if you are looking for a one stop shop to cover your personal development, PE networking, M&A relationships etc., you may need to consider participating in more than one event.

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