FinTech advisory 11:FS expands into US with New York office

08 August 2017

11:FS, a consulting firm founded by a group of blockchain experts to supply FinTech start-ups with advisory services, has announced its expansion to the United States of America. The consultancy, which only launched in 2016, will take the leap across the Atlantic having last year raised $5 million in seed money to fund a campaign of expansion, which also sees former NTT DATA director Sam Maule join its New York City office.

The financial services world has found itself, for some time now, under threat from disruptive FinTech players. These players, leveraging a key piece of proprietary technology that simplifies or transforms current business practices or models, has the potential to, like Netflix, shake up the market. One technology of particular interest has been blockchains, which underpin digital currencies like Bitcoin. 11:FS, is a consultancy which was launched in an effort to combine an innovative start-up mentality with some of the best experts in the field.

Co-founded in 2016 by David Brear, former head of digital banking at Gartner; Simon Taylor, currently the Vice President of entrepreneurial partnerships at Barclays; Chris Skinner, Financial Services Club (FSC) chair and author of The Digital Bank; and Jason Bates, Mondo banking app co-founder, after a successful first year in the European consulting market, 11:FS are targeting expansion into the North American consulting industry – the largest and most lucrative in the world.

FinTech advisory 11:FS expands into US with New York office

11:FS are the latest in a number of young consultancies to make the journey to the USA. In 2016, UK-based technology consultancy Brickendon took up residence in the US as its first international office, while Baringa expanded its footprint in the country in a bid to better support its US financial services clients meet the challenges of a rapidly changing competitive and regulatory landscape. Both firms took up residence in New York City.

The new Americas division will see the firm take up residence in New York City, the financial heart of North America, with access to the biggest banks and services in the industry, which 11:FS believe are the exact fit for their offering. Market incumbents are increasingly seeking advice on how to best leverage new technology, in the face of mounting competition from the new FinTech start-ups chipping away at their former dominance, and the firm hopes the move to NYC will give them the ideal space to engage with these potential clients.

Sam Maule

As well as expanding their infrastructure with the new office, 11:FS are also bringing on board new expertise to help them tap into the local market. The consulting firm has subsequently announced that as of early August, former NTT DATA Consulting Director, Sam Maule, is joining the team as Managing Partner for Americas. Having been Senior Practice lead for Digital and FinTech at the firm for the past year, Maule brings over a decade’s worth of industry experience within the financial technology consulting sector. Having been named as one of the top 100 most influential Fintech leaders of 2016, Maule, who is also a former Naval Navigation Electronics Technician, is tasked with helping 11:FS reaching the next level in the US and Canadian markets particularly.

According to co-founder and CEO David Brear, “Having made a great impact in the first 15 months of 11:FS’ life, we now feel we can have a similar impact with Sam at the helm in North America and Canada, helping organisations really understand what digital transformation within their banks and insurers truly means. People are wasting billions of dollars of investment and we can help them spend less and achieve so much more.”

Sam Maule and David Brear - 11FS

Sam Maule meanwhile commented on what drew him to this new challenge, despite having enjoyed his time at NTT, “I’ve become a strong advocate and evangelist concerning the need for industries, especially banking, to examine and reimagine themselves, their culture, their core systems, their business models, their hiring approach, their customer relationships, etc. I’ve come to realise the same is true for me. I needed to examine my own motivations for advocating this needed change and reimagine how I intend to actually execute against this. I came to the realisation my personal ratio of talking vs actually driving change was lacking. It was time for a personal reboot.”

Maule went on to conclude, “Now I’m ready for the next opportunity with 11:FS; the excitement, the frustrations, and even the stress of joining a consultancy start-up, one that is challenging multiple industries across the globe to examine and reimagine themselves, and maybe even dial it up to “11” when it comes to digital transformation.”


Newcastle consulting firm opens Baghdad office

05 April 2019

A Newcastle-based consultancy has announced it will open its first office in Iraq. The news comes despite warnings that the area remains “high risk” for businesses.

16 years after the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the nation remains a shadow of its former self. The continued chaos wrought by the Iraq War – which eventually played a role in the rise to prominence of Daesh, further destabilising the region – means that even now, the nation’s capital is deemed to have the lowest quality of living in the world. According to a recent survey from Mercer, Baghdad ranked last overall – immediately below Bangui of the Central African Republic and Damascus in Syria – despite the other two being determined as the worst cities on the planet for personal safety.

However, as with the wider Middle East, the oil-rich state presents a lucrative destination to businesses willing to take the risk. To that end, a Newcastle recruitment consultancy has announced the opening of its first presence in Iraq’s capital city. Samuel Knight has taken the decision to open its Baghdad locale in order to grow its business in the Middle East.

Newcastle consulting firm opens Baghdad office

While businesses remain wary of the region, Samuel Knight specialises in recruiting talent in the energy and rail sectors, and in a release it said the new office would continue to focus on these areas. It will also allow the firm to make sure it abides by local compliance laws. The new location will be headed up by Haider Kadhim, Samuel Knight’s Iraq country manager, who will work as the first point of contact for clients and candidates. Representatives from the Department of Trade Industry are expected to attend a launch event for the office, which will be held this month.

Commenting on the new office,  a spokesperson for Samuel Knight said, “We probably don’t see it as a risk, but more of an opportunity, as we operate in the Middle East extensively already. We have contacts in place in the country location and with the consultants we have. We felt it was a great opportunity to expand into a country we are already doing work in. It means we have an on-the-ground team to help our clients. From our perspective, it is that we are looking to expand into new territories, but we are also supporting countries that are starting to redevelop after years of warfare.”

Steve Rawlingson, CEO at Samuel Knight, said, “Our aggressive five-year growth plan is manifesting at  an impressive rate, taking the company to exciting new territories. The team is working diligently to surpass expectations set out in the plan, and to ensure Samuel Knight is cemented as the leading global energy and rail recruitment specialist. Our Baghdad office will give us a distinctive edge over our competition and allow for more exciting business opportunities. Once the office becomes more established and client acquisition develops, we will certainly be adding more consultants and manpower in the city.”