MBO Partners Goes Abroad, Launches New International Expansion Initiative

MBO Partners Vincent Tang/Adobe Stock

MBO Partners announced Thursday it is launching a new initiative to expand internationally. MBO described the initiative as “a new international sales and service delivery strategy based on a network of qualified Member Firms.” Contracting PLUS Ltd. was announced as the first member firm for the U.K. and Ireland.

MBO is the largest “agency of record” contractor engagement business in the U.S., based on U.S. spend.  It is also one of the top “agency of record” contractor engagement businesses, based on global spend of presumably of U.S.-based companies with operations abroad.  

To date, MBO client spend outside of the U.S. has been managed through relationships with sub-contracted engagement providers that support contractors for MBO clients across more than 80 countries. MBO said the new network “will supplement MBO’s existing relationships” with those providers.

“The new strategy brings the MBO brand to local markets such that non-U.S. businesses (and non-U.S. divisions of US businesses) can transact fully in their local jurisdiction while saving on overhead and currency translation,” the company said in a press release. “It also opens up MBO’s pool of talent to additional overseas independents.”

Over past years, MBO has quietly invested in the development of its methods and processes as well as technology to enable them. In addition, MBO has been developing a broader work intermediation platform (WIP), called MBO Connect, that supports contractor engagement, on the one hand, and enterprise integration, on the other. The technology also allows MBO to participate in — or create its own — digital services ecosystem, or network, of complementary businesses. For example, the recently launched PwC Talent Exchange relies on MBO Partners as its contractor compliance and payment solution. (To read more on MBO Connect, see here and here.)

True to form, MBO Partners reported that it quietly “spent over a year constructing a process and infrastructure to support a network of qualified Member Firms licensed to leverage the MBO Partners brand, leadership and experience with that of the local service, culture and compliance expertise of the Member Firm.”  

The expansion model, based on licensing rights to use the MBO brand and proprietary methods, processes, and technology, does appear to be unique in the global contractor management space, where coverage in different countries tends to rely on local agents (for example, a local law firm) or require at least partial ownership of (and investment in) a local business.

Given all of the above, this strategic move clearly signals that MBO has reached a point, in its development as leader in the U.S. market, to embark upon the path of becoming a global company — a new chapter in the company’s history.  

“I can tell you that we have other Member Firms that we are in due diligence and negotiations with for the licensing arrangement,” said Gene Zaino, founder and CEO of MBO. “We plan to have a good-sized network built over the coming year, and this network will enable each licensee to do business under the MBO brand, leverage systems and relationships as well as allow licensees to share resources with one another.  I think it will be pretty powerful as we leverage the MBO Connect technology across this network as well.”

We hope to have an opportunity to connect with Zaino in the near future in order to further discuss these developments and report back on them to the Spend Matters audience.

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