America's leading independent consultants marketplace lands in UK

29 October 2018 5 min. read
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Catalant, a digital marketplace for independent consultants and high-end expert talent, has arrived in the UK. While the matchmaking firm has worked in Britain previously, it will now hold an office in London, as it vies to become a global market leader.

Formerly named, Catalant is a start-up known for helping clients source freelance professional services talent in the United States. Established in 2013 by Co-CEOs Rob Biederman and former Booz Allen Hamilton consultant Patrick Petitti, the firm set out to provide a more personalised and efficient service than clients would obtain directly from traditional management consultancies. In the five years since its launch, the company has sourced new capital, and built a global network of more than 50,000 independent consultants and 1,000 boutique firms, which Catalant matches to the needs of its clients. Its network members boast specialities in research, strategy, marketing, finance, sales, operations and product initiatives, among other services, which are particularly sought after by small and mid-level enterprises.

One-fifth of the UK’s £10 billion consulting market now consists of independent and freelance consultants, with the lower prices and ready availability of experienced talent in the burgeoning sector drawing a growing amount of attention from corporate entities across the board. The trend is expected to grow further, as Brexit pressures, slow economic growth, and scrutiny on the overall consulting spending of organisations drives businesses to the 2 million strong freelance scene – especially for high-end consulting work – something which is causing increasing consternation among the established consulting community.

America's leading independent consultants marketplace lands in UK

According to a survey by Catalant itself, two-thirds of executives believe their companies are still overspending on consulting. At the same time, companies facing a talent gap often look to consulting firms to help bridge the void – something which they will continue to have to do in the UK particularly, with an ageing population, high employment, and tightening borders meaning filling empty roles is becoming harder than it has in decades. Usually, these firms default to big consulting entities, largely because that’s often the path of least resistance, but Catalant contends that not only might this land clients with the wrong tool for the job – it is also the most expensive and slowest talent option on the table. Bringing in the brand-name, global consulting firm in some circumstances is the figurative equivalent of using a hammer to crack a walnut, and when precision is vital, enterprises must be able to evaluate whether a boutique consulting firm might be a better fit.

In this context, Catalant has announced its formal launch in the UK, as it looks to meet growing demand for boutique consultancies among SMEs. Catalant has been active in the UK previously, and many of its clients are in the UK, along with many of its independent consultants in its network, but the US-based organisation itself will now have a presence on the ground, outright. The company currently readies over 30% of the Fortune 100 for the future of work, so that they can get mission critical work done faster. Its new office in London will be make use of its location in an international technology hub to continue Catalant’s significant market momentum.

The news comes as the UK’s market for matchmaking firms continues to heat up. One of the major concerns of clients weighing up whether or not to plump for independent consultants is that it is more difficult to know what they are getting, unlike the uniform delivery of a Big Four firm for example. Matchmaking services add a proverbial middleman to the process, and are used to help source the most appropriate talent for the needs of a project and company. To this end, Comatch also recently landed on British shores with a view to expanding into the market, while UK-origin B2E Consulting is looking to expand in the other direction, and Talmix (formerly MBA & Company) wants to similarly grow along with the likes of Odgers Connect and many more.

Commenting on the launch, Rob Biederman, co-CEO and co-founder of Catalant, said, “Catalant is transforming how organisations attack strategic opportunities. Our expansion into the UK and overall growth over the past year further validates that the old way of resourcing key priorities is a thing of the past. As we remain committed to our presence in Boston, we are excited for this opportunity to grow internationally and make our mark in London.”