Financial services consultancy Projective expands into France

24 October 2017

Projective, a financial services consultancy specialised in programme and project management, has opened an office in France. The Paris location marks the firm’s fifth European presence, following earlier expansion from their original Brussels base, into The Hague, London and Frankfurt.

Launched in 2006, Belgian consulting outfit Projective focuses solely on the financial services (FS) industry; chiefly serving banks, insurance companies, asset and wealth maangers, regulators and FinTech startups. Building on its succesful expansion strategy to date, and the potential it sees in France, the firm has jumped into the French consulting market, an industry estimated to be worth almost €6 billion. After working three years on home turf, Projective expanded to the Netherlands in 2009, followed by the United Kingdom in 2010, and in June this year they also entered Frankfurt. The new Paris office is grounded on forecasts that the post-Brexit financial services industry will increase the importance of Paris as a hub in Europe’s ecosystem, which will provide stakeholders in the FS ecosystem, including advisors such as Projective, with major opportunities.

With the approaching 2019 Brexit deadline, continental financial centers, such as Amsterdam and Paris, are vying to take on the business that is set to leave London. Earlier in the year, Oliver Wyman predicted that the UK financial sector could face as many as 75,000 job losses if hard Brexit becomes a reality. According to the firm’s analysis, the exodus is likely to include 40,000 investment bankers, while having a severe knock-on effect on the broader financial service ecosystem, including specialist professional service firms, while the UK economy as a whole could miss out on £10 billion in tax revenue every year.

Speaking in English, at a banking conference in July, French first minister said the French government were committed to attracting businesses “by all means”, in order to help “Paris to become Europe’s new number one financial hub after Brexit.“ Despite this, the German city of Frankfurt has so far emerged as the biggest winner in the fight for thousands of London-based jobs that will have to be relocated to new hubs inside the European Union after Brexit. HSBC Holdings is the biggest non-French bank so far to opt for Paris, however, Projective is well positioned in either eventuality.

Financial services consultancy Projective expands into France

According to Stefan Dierckx, the CEO of Projective, “The French financial services industry is one that will surely see considerable growth in the coming years, and we plan to capitalise on this business influx to the market.” He added that he believes the firm is well placed to seize on this opportunity through an approach which has proven its success in existing markets. “We are excited to bring our seasoned, change-driven approach to project delivery and financial services consulting to yet another European financial hub.”

Yet there are opportunties beyond Brexit, says Dierckx. The French financial services consulting market is estimated to be worth €1.9 billion (one third of total French consulting industry), as major changes sweep across the sector. FS players are having to redefine their strategy and business models, as products and services that have delivered them huge market shares for decades no longer work in the digital world. In order to avoid being outflanked by new innovative competitors, financial institutions are having to replace legacy infrastructure for newer and more efficient business models making use of improved technologies. Regulations such as PSD2 are also changing operations and cracking the industry open for rivals, with the playing field to some extent levelled through the access to top talent and resources.

Concrete targets for the French office have not been communicated externally, however the firm does state it has begun on-the-ground project work. As it stands the Paris team has six consultants, with “recruitment well underway” for expansion. Illustrating how quick growth can go, Dierckx pointed at he firm’s Frankfurt office. Launched just earlier this year, it now hosts a team of 15 project managers, and he believes the office will generate €4-5 million in revenue by the end of 2018. For the end of this year, the group aims at booking revenue of €21 million across all its locales, which would bring the firm’s growth rate to around 20% for the second consecutive year, a growth which sees it outperform most market competitors.

The consulting practices of KPMG and PwC, and AccentureMcKinsey & Company and Strategy& all grew by less than 8% last year, while even market leaders such as The Boston Consulting Group (+12% growth in 2016), Booz Allen Hamilton (+10% in 2016), Deloitte Consulting (+10% in 2016) and EY Advisory (+10% in 2016) expanded by a lower margin than Projective’s figures. While Projective is a much smaller company than those groups, theoretically making growth easier, in an intensely competitive market, its performance still signals the firm’s ability to successfully draw confidence and market share from clients of established industry names.

Large change programmes

Projective specialises in navigating clients through major change programmes, offering project management delivery of large and complex change programmes. The firm works with a senior resourcing model, so all project managers must have over 10+ years of in-field experience before they can go to work for Projective’s clients directly. While the firm is particularly strong in the fields of regulatory change, operational excellence and digital transformation, Projective is also active in the fields of digital innovation, data management, FinTech and change management. “Projective works with its clients to help financial institutions compete in today’s financial landscape”, Dierckx said.

Quote Stefan Dierckx

However, competition is strong in Paris. All the major consulting firms, incuding McKinsey, BCG, Bain, the Big Four, Oliver Wyman and Accenture, have presence in France. The country also has a relatively strong group of French-origin consulting firms that have a strong foothold in the area, such as Wavestone, Ayming and Kea & Partners, as well as smaller player such as Advancy, Vertone, Estin & Co and Ares & Co holding reputable positions in their respective markets/segments.

Switzerland to follow

Looking ahead, Projective, which has set ambitious growth strategy after it was acquired by Germany’s Wincor Nixdorf in March 2016, has now set its sights on Switzerland, where it plans to open a Zurich office. Projective will begin servicing the Swiss financial services industry by early 2018. “Through the financial backing of Wincor Nixdorf (which was acquired by US company Diebold) we are able to more rapidly pursue our international expansion strategy,“ Stefan Dierckx reflected.

Projective is not only FS consultancy that is expanding. Capco, which originally also has Belgian roots, recently moved into Scandinavia with a Stockholm office. Boutique firm 11:FS, contrastingly, went straight into the world’s largest consuling industry of the US. In Europe, Chappuis Halder is growing its footprint through its alliance network CH Alliance, recently acquiring TargetST8. Synechron has also been growing rapdily globally over the past five years, likewise fuelled by an M&A strategy, while Strategy& moved into Belgium, first setting their sights on the country’s improving FS sector.

Related: The 20 most prestigious strategy consulting firms in France.


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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.”