Craig Dickens: CEO, JD Merit



JD Merit is a boutique investment bank that provides its clients strategic merger and acquisition guidance, corporate finance solutions, and value enhancement services. Whether arranging a business sale, negotiating a merger or acquisition, raising capital, or pursuing strategic ventures, JD Merit focuses on helping its clients win. Still, the bank’s CEO, Craig Dickens, believed he needed a particular kind of assistance.

“I’ve got plenty of business and finance experience, but I don’t have much experience in scaling a professional services firm,” said Craig.

It was a sea change for Craig when he realized he needed to understand the dynamics of operating a professional service business. Being the CEO, he knew it was essential to have the complete picture.

“The management team and I wanted to ensure that we understood the key to unlocking knowledge relating to scaling the business,” said Craig. “We’re strong believers in not reinventing the wheel. We wanted to learn from a peer community that would embrace us.”


Craig’s very intentional search for such a peer community led him to Greg Alexander’s book titled The Boutique: How to Start, Scale, and Sell a Professional Services Firm. After reading the book and listening to a few of Collective 54’s podcasts, he knew he had found his tribe. Craig, along with the bank’s Chief Operating Officer and its Chief Strategy Officer, joined the mastermind community.

“It was important to me that the entire management team was a part of Collective 54,” said Craig. “That way, we all get into the depth and breadth of the ecosystem, so each person works to learn every aspect of the business and agree on our direction for the future.”

the professional services mastermind community

Collective 54 is the first mastermind community for boutique professional services firms. The community aims to help members make more money, work fewer hours, and get to a bigger sale faster. This is done through peer-to-peer mentoring, expertise sharing, and specialized programming built to help founders and owners grow, scale, and sell their firms.

One crucial element of Collective 54 is that all members operate professional services firms, regardless of their industry. Those members talk among themselves and help each other learn.

“There are ideas that come out of those conversations that I would’ve never thought of. I wouldn’t come at an issue from a marketer’s or an IT consultant’s perspective,” said Craig. “Having real conversations with different peers makes a leader a more well-rounded executive. That leader must hear from the voices of others who have solved the same problems. And in Collective 54, those voices are located throughout the world.”

For Craig, having access to a proven playbook and learning a common language with his peers helped him and his management team execute thoughtful plans contributing to the business’s overall growth and success.

collective 54 business impact


“We undertook a change in how we structure our business,” said Craig. “It was helpful to get feedback from the Leadership Board as well as a one-on-one with founder Greg Alexander as to how we should manage that change.”

tangible value

Craig is active and receiving great value from his Leadership Board, a private sub-group of ten members. He’s also advised other Collective 54 members on how to improve their businesses. “There’s a commonality in language and viewpoint relative to how
professional services should be run and managed, and we are benefitting from that language,” he said.

clarity & alignment

“Collective 54 has given the management team clarity and alignment,” said Craig. “We’ve taken the group’s Boutique Framework and turned it into a scorecard that will help us continually improve performance. Now, we are more effective managers as we grow.”