Fiscal year 2015 (FY15) was another successful year for ERM in terms of financial performance and ongoing investment in the sustainable, future growth of the business
At constant exchange rates, we increased our net consulting revenue by 5 percent and our trading profit by 4 percent. The financial results for 2015 represented a strong overall performance given more difficult conditions in certain market sectors, especially in the second half of the financial year following the significant decrease in the price of oil.
Trading profit growth was slightly lower than the increase in net revenue as a result of continued investment in the business. Significant investments included the ongoing increase in the number of ERM Partners,the development of services for clients - especially in growing markets like the Chemical and Power sectors and in relation to our role in the global sustainability agenda.
During 2015, we hired 48 Partners from the market, which provides us with a strong platform to grow the business over the medium term. We also promoted 30 Partners into the Partnership from our industry-leading Partner-in-Training Program and established 18 new Partners following acquisitions. The average number of full-time employees in the group grew by 3 percent, from just under 4,600 to just over 4,700. ERM continues to deliver a great working environment with strong career development opportunities.
In the Chemical and Power sectors, we continue to grow our capabilities to serve our clients across their entire value chain. This includes investment in new Partner recruits and investment in service offerings such as product sustainability, transaction services (including post-merger integration and post-divestiture support), operational efficiency, new capital project support (especially risk and safety services) and assistance with portfolio management/asset retirement.
In addition to our client and project work, we continued to play a leading role in the global sustainability agenda. ERM participated in the UN Climate Change Summit in September 2014, which looked to engage world leaders and advance climate action and ambition. A senior ERM Partner has been appointed as the Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Responsibility (HSSE-SR) Technical Director with the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), which is the largest individual-member organization serving the upstream Oil & Gas industry globally.
We have refinanced the business to provide us with the appropriate funding to continue to grow organically and by acquisition. We continue to make and integrate high-quality, strategic acquisitions. These acquisitions will assist us in continuing to achieve sustainable medium-term growth.
In July 2015, the group had a change of majority shareholder. OMERS Private Equity (“OPE”), the private equity investment arm of the OMERS pension plan, invested in ERM alongside Alberta Investment Management Corporation ("AIMCo") and ERM employee shareholders (i.e., Partners). Our Partners continue to have a significant ownership stake in the business. OPE and AIMCo will support management to develop the business, both organically by further increasing market share through offering innovative new services in expanding international markets, and also by strategic acquisitions in what remains a large, but still fragmented, sector.
We have started FY16 well; the investment in the business by OPE and AIMCo demonstrates the success to date and the exciting prospects for the business.