Strategy& enters Belgian strategy consulting market with Brussels office

04 September 2017 Consultancy.uk

The brand is difficult to miss, thanks to the new logo visible on entry of PwC’s office in Brussels, located at boulevard de la Woluwe: it reads “Strategy&”. With the launch of the Big Four firm’s strategy consulting arm in Belgium, the global professional services giant aims at challenging the likes of McKinsey, BCG and Roland Berger in Belgium’s strategy consulting segment.

With around 3,000 consultants, Strategy& is the globe’s sixth largest strategy consulting firm, following the ‘MBB’ trio (McKinsey, BCG, Bain), Oliver Wyman and A.T. Kearney. The firm was founded in 2014 after accounting and advisory group PwC picked up Booz & Company in a deal worth a reported $1 billion, with the new entity subsequently rebranded as Strategy& following contractual agreements with Booz Allen Hamilton that stemmed from the time when the firm split into two groups.

Strategy& has a large footprint in Europe, including operations in the UK, Germany, France, and even neighbouring the Netherlands, but not in Belgium. To date, the consultancy staffed its local projects in Belgium with teams from other country organisations – mainly France and the Netherlands (which recently added two partners) – yet following growing demand for its services as the Benelux consulting market continues to improve, it has now decided to open an on the ground operation.

Strategy& enters Belgian strategy consulting market with Brussels office

Lead partner: Fernand Dimidschstein

To lead Strategy& Belgium, the firm has recruited Fernand Dimidschstein, a former Accenture partner and a seasoned advisor. Dimidschstein joined the firm in February this year, and has over the past months been laying the groundwork for running business and started building the team. He has almost 30 years of experience in management consulting and investment banking, featuring stints at BNY Mellon, JP Morgan.

Dimidschstein’s main areas of expertise are digital transformation, innovation in the fields of finance (FinTech) and insurance (InsurTech), omni-channel strategies as well as the automation of processes via robotics. Commenting on why PwC brought in a Dimidschstein’s profile to lead its strategy wing, Axel Smits, PwC’s country head for Belgium, said, “The digital world breaks down barriers – so corporate strategies today are digital strategies. We want to focus on the field of digital strategy in the broadest sense, i.e. digital transformation, cross-industry strategic partnerships as well as artificial intelligence and process automation technologies.”

Mirroring its global approach, Strategy& Belgium will focus on providing ‘pragmatic strategy consulting services’, ranging from strategy development to implementation. Smits highlights the synergies the firm will being able to tap into the sloth of expertise PwC offers: “Together, Strategy& and PwC can offer everything that Belgian customers need, all under one roof: cutting-edge strategic consulting expertise coupled with proven execution experience and an international network.”

Axel Smits - pwc and Fernand Dimidschstein - strategy&

Strategy& wants to compete with the traditional top tier competitors in the country – all major strategy consultancies are based in Belgium, mostly in Brussels. Asked how Strategy& will differentiate itself, Smits points at the collaborative approach which is deeply rooted in the DNA of the firm. “Rather than providing advice and recommendations, we work alongside our clients. The world is now more uncertain than ever, and as a result organisations are facing unprecedented threats. It is therefore increasingly important not only to have a solid strategy, but also key to execute them. So it is important to stay close to executives throughout their journey.”

Innovation

Innovation is another theme which ranks high on the service priorities of Strategy& Belgium. “A CEO who thinks about innovation, whatever his industry, must think of Strategy&”, said Dimidschstein. Research from PA Consulting has shown that innovation is top of mind among executives, with 66% confessing that without it, they believe their businesses will not survive.

To help CEOs grasp how innovation can help them forward, the firm is developing a range of services to help its clients connect with start-up companies through incubators, university networks and technology leaders. Strategy& Belgium is also currently constructing an innovation center in the sixth floor of our offices in Brussels – the area will provide executives with an environment where they can brainstorm on innovation strategies and enable them to concretely work with things such as prototypes and new business models. Innovation labs are currently gaining popularity among consulting firms. Earlier in 2017, Cognizant launched its own in London, while McKinsey and BCG also launched digital labs in Belgrade, Singapore, and many more.

Earlier this month fellow strategy firm Alvarez & Marsal meanwhile expanded into Sweden in order to capitalise on the growing Nordic consulting industry, another area along with the Benelux region, where Strategy& are likewise keen to compete.

Related: New partners for French strategy & management consulting firms.

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