Synechron Business Consulting – the consulting arm of parent company Synechron – has set the goal to grow its team to the size of 300 consultants by the end of 2017. Six months into his new role, Bas Heijnen, Managing Director of Synechron Business Consulting, reflects on the firm’s strategy, approach and on what makes the consultancy stand out from the rest of the crowd.
In April this year Synechron – an international services firm with a pure focus on the financial services industry – launched a separate consulting arm: Synechron Business Consulting. The unit, created from the joining of forces between several businesses acquired and the bundling of existing consulting capabilities within the firm’s global footprint, today spans around 200 consultants across seven countries.
Synechron’s push into the consulting industry builds on the firm’s ‘Power of 3' strategy launched early 2016, which seeks to grow its global revenue base from the current $400 million to $1 billion by the year 2020. “An ambitious goal, for sure, but we are well positioned”, says Faisal Husain, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of the New York-headquartered company. Husain however finds strong encouragement from Synechron’s track record since its inception fifteen years ago. The Synechron story is one of impressive growth and global expansion, but too one of belief and friendship – Faisal met co-founder Tanveer Saulat when he was a teenager and the third co-founder Zia Bhutta just after he started working. The three decided in 2001 to take the plunge, and, without the support of venture capital or external financing, built the firm to what it is today.
The ‘Power of 3' strategy is the firm’s overarching plan for realising the next stage of its growth ambition, one which down the line should turn the firm into the preferred “trusted business and technology adviser” for decision-makers at banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions. To bring the bold goals to life, Synechron reshuffled its organisational structure into three distinct service lines: Digital, Business Consulting and Technology. With the move, the professional services firm aims at, among others, better meeting the changing demands of its global customers, bolstering the cross-practice alignment between its 6,000+ employees base, and supporting the further diversification of its portfolio towards consulting and design – both segments have been earmarked as high growth areas.
Synechron Business Consulting
The management consulting unit, Synechron Business Consulting (SBC), has been fabricated on a string of acquisitions which Synechron completed in the advisory space over the past 18 months. The foundation was laid in April 2013 when it purchased Double Effect, a management consultancy with offices in the Netherlands and Singapore. The move saw around 80 consultants transfer to the privately held company, with Double Effect serving as Synechron’s stand-alone consulting wing.
Early 2015 Team Trade, a Paris-based firm that specialises in business consulting and software integration, was picked up (250 employees in 10 countries) and in August that year, usable, a US-based digital design consultancy, was bolted on to its network. One month later Synechron – which is derived from the words synergise, synchronise and surpass – pushed deeper into the UK market with the acquisition of Crossbridge. Around 60 financial services consultants, including a number in New York, transferred. The latest deals were that of Hatstand (5 offices globally) and Cityfront Group (London and Paris) – both are financial services consultancies and capital markets specialists.
The inception of Synechron Business Consulting saw Double Effect and Crossbridge merge and rebrand, while at the same time management and technology consultants working across other areas of Synechron’s business were recruited into the unit. SBC supports clients with resolving challenges in areas such as Digital Strategy, Target Operating Model redesign, Regulatory Change, Workforce Transformations, Risk, Finance & Control, Data Management, Client Life Cycle Management, Financial Crime and System implementations. The consultancy today has, according to Bas Heijnen, Managing Director of SBC, circa 200 consultants working from offices in London, Amsterdam, Charlotte (US), the UAE, Pune, Singapore and Hong Kong.
To understand more about SBC’s strategy, positioning and plans going forward, Consultancy.uk posed five questions to the unit’s CEO:
What is the benefit to SBC of operating under a single, global consulting brand?
Many of our clients are large global banks operating in multiple geographies who have both global and regional business challenges they need addressed. As a global consulting firm, Synechron is able to deliver the scale and breath needed to execute any global project while at the same time offer regionalised expertise into the local business and regulatory landscape, operational best practices, workforce demands based on the local economy, etc. With the recent rebranding of all our existing consulting capabilities into Synechron Business Consulting our clients have the added benefit of being able to work with one and the same company across the different locations from which we are servicing them. It goes without saying that having all of our capabilities (technology, digital and consulting) operating under one brand ensures we can build a strong global position for the company as a whole.
What are the ambitions for SBC in the coming years?
Synechron Business Consulting now has well over 200 consultants globally in major financial hubs. We’ll continue to grow our global team with the aim to have over 300 consultants globally over the next year or two. Obviously Synechron Business Consulting is an integral part of the overall Synechron Group which gives us the ability to leverage our digital and technology capabilities when providing solutions to our clients globally.
As a fully financial services focused firm we will keep building on our strong domain knowledge, keeping on the fore front of regulatory, technological and business developments and ensure all locations can service our clients across the project value chain and cross all core content areas. We will – and are already – much more visible in pushing out our views on trends and developments in Financial Services and are bringing our clients together during our client conferences (InSync events) across the globe to share knowledge and know how.
The Power of Three strategy builds strongly on close collaboration between Technology, Digital and Business Consulting. Can you provide us with concrete examples on how alignment and cooperation between the lines can lead to bottom-line impact?
One of our most recent examples of the power of three has been Synechron’s blockchain accelerators initiative. In September 2016, Synechron launched six blockchain accelerators that bring together consulting services, live blockchain applications and a strong UX approach for this transformative digital technology to deliver an end-to-end blockchain capability.
We believe much like cloud came in and changed the financial services industry, blockchain – as well as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Robotics – has a truly transformative potential. While change will not happen overnight, over the next 5 years, leading global financial institutions will partner in consortiums and small working groups with 2-3 banks and intermediaries to develop blockchain projects that co-exist alongside existing business operations. These accelerators will be instrumental in giving these firms first-mover advantage to accelerate their blockchain initiatives.
In addition, we see many change initiatives across the globe where the three lines of business are working closely together to deliver results for our clients. This spans everything from workforce transformations, regulatory change, operating model overhauls, digital banking initiatives and large scale finance and risk programmes. Our clients highly value the seamless internal cooperation and team-spirit across the globe which significantly reduces the delivery risk of major strategic change initiatives.
Besides the range of internal skills SBC can tap into, how does SBC differentiate itself in the marketplace from the rest of the competition?
In addition to our deep expertise in financial services, Synechron Business Consulting is also working with clients to understand how to apply the latest technologies to their business strategies. We have invested in multiple global financial innovation labs (FinLabs) in for example London, Amsterdam and Dubai which enable clients to touch, play with and feel the latest digital innovation, work toward developing real-world business applications and assess the latest innovative start-ups entering the market where our clients might achieve additional value. In addition we have strong offshoring capabilities that allow us to scale any global project for clients.
Even though the name Synechron Business Consulting may be new to the marketplace, the combined experience and knowledge of the teams working under the new SBC-brand is extremely strong. The leadership team acts as one-team globally and our consultants consistently deliver high-quality projects. We believe in low hierarchy, strong and dedicated training and career development programmes for our consultants, high-intensity mentoring programs and creating an amazing team-spirit to ensure everyone in the company is empowered to make a difference.
Lastly, as a fully-independent and privately-held company we believe we can be completely delivery focused, quick on our feet and fully dedicated to our clients, our staff and the long term strategy of the firm.