Nordic consultant matchmaking platform Worksome enters the UK

14 November 2018 Consultancy.uk

The UK market for freelance consultants is getting busy, and so too is the arena for matchmakers, who can link their skills with the needs of clients. Just months after both Germany’s Comatch and the US’ Catalant entered the UK market for high-skilled independent consultants, now Denmark’s Worksome is doing the same.

According to Consultancy.uk analysis based on the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics ONS) and the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), the industry currently contains a labour pool of around 5 million people (or around 15% of the workforce), having increased from 3.3 million (12% of the workforce) in 2001. This includes a burgeoning independent consulting sector, which is winning an ever-widening segment of work from the traditional consulting scene.

Issues relating to pricing and agility mean clients have seen sourcing freelancers to staff projects as a major asset, with many of the professionals in the gig economy having exited larger firms with years of training and experience, which they can now tap without the broader fees of an attached company. According to the CTA's second annual Future of Work survey, 92% of businesses will need more employees with technical skills; however, 74% believe finding people with the right skills will be harder. Since the consulting industry is not chartered, anyone can call themselves an independent consultant – making it difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to recruiting talent. 

Nordic consultant matchmaking platform Worksome enters the UK

This has spawned the dramatic rise of the matchmakers to the fore of the consulting market. Matchmaking firms help connect the needs of clients to consultants with the relevant skills, price range and availability in a short time frame, while also ensuring a degree of quality control, as they feature a number of requirements for professionals to join their networks. Demand for this service has risen hand in hand with demand for gig economy consultants, and has seen a host of new firms created or arriving in the UK in recent years, including the likes of CatalantOutsized and Comatch, among many more.

Enter: Worksome

The latest of these arrivals is Worksome, joining the UK’s increasingly crowded market from its origins in the Nordics. The holistic business-to-consultant matchmaking platform is making a strategic foray into London’s growing IT and digital consultancy marketplace, having already demonstrated its success in Denmark. With the search for talent becoming ever more challenging, Worksome was established to cut candidate search from a 6-week average down to 24 hours, offering a 4% flat commission fee versus the industry standard of 15-30% – in a bid to undercut its competition.

Worksome provides a speedy end-to-end recruitment process, challenging the traditional search average of 42 days – with some cases taking as much as 6 months. Addressing this inefficiency, the matchmaking algorithms within the Worksome platform engender a more proficient experience for the users, slicing weeks off the process, meaning best candidate matches can become available within 24 hours. With more than 6,000 users and hiring companies on-board the Worksome platform in Denmark, early signs of growth in the UK point towards an equally strong pick-up.

CEO and co-founder, Morten Petersen is a future of work specialist. Commenting on the launch of Worksome in the UK, he said, “In Denmark we have already seen businesses reaping the benefits from the platform but with the UK being a much bigger player in the flexible worker market, it has massive potential to really assist with the digital skills gap that is cited as being a big issue… Companies are suffering from a talent scarcity problem and freelancers make it possible for businesses to hire the most skilled and suitable talent, with far less financial risk attached… It is encouraging that even in our early days here, we have already seen a quick uptick in both user and hiring company numbers. We are excited about growing Worksome’s UK position and delivering an important solution to the digital recruitment and skills-gap problem.”

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New ‘open consultancy’ Riverflex racks up eight clients and 300 consultants

16 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Digital consultancy firm Riverflex is celebrating a successful first year of business, following its launch in 2018. As the freelance consulting market continues to boom, the independent model–based conultancy has expanded to more than 300 members, working with eight corporate clients on projects like the Samsung store innovation drive. Co-founders Victor Hoong and André Azadehdel spoke with Consultancy.uk to explore what the future holds for Riverflex.

The freelance consulting sector of Europe is experiencing a period of rapid expansion, as former employees turn their backs on life at firms, amid the allure of a better work-life balance and the suggestion of better pay. According to Consultancy.uk analysis based on the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), the UK’s industry alone contains a labour pool of around 5 million people (or around 15% of the workforce), having increased from 3.3 million (12% of the workforce) in 2001.

With this state of play pressuring businesses to find value-delivering consultants, the need to match demand between businesses and freelance consultants has boomed. As a result, a growing number of firms looking to support businesses in that process have arisen. This includes platforms such as Nordic company Worksome and Berlin-based Comatch, which both entered the UK market in 2018. Financial services–focused Outsized also recently enjoyed a bullish UK debut.

With digital transformation currently one of the fastest growing areas in consultancy – accounting for more than $44 billion in annual revenues – there is also a large area to be filled by specialism within the market. With 80% of respondents to a recent Management Consultancies Association poll indicating that that technological and digital disruption pose a significant threat to businesses in the coming years, there is a significant opportunity for a firm which links client demand for digital skills to freelance consultants with the relevant experience and know-how.

Fast-growing Riverflex builds community of 300 consultants in first year

Riverflex arrives

Another new entrant in the digital consulting space is Riverflex, which celebrated its first anniversary at the end of March. Riverflex sells and delivers consulting projects, but with an independent model, catering to the demand for digital skillsets, lean teams, flexibility, and experienced industry hands. The start-up was launched by Victor Hoong and Andre Azadehdel in 2018, with the former Deloitte Consulting duo looking to close the gap between client needs and traditional consulting solutions, providing an alternative option to the Big Four and MBB firms for clients and consultants alike.

Speaking with Consultancy.uk, the duo commented on the need for consulting to change. Amid huge changes across nearly all industries, they see consulting being done the same way, more than a century after its first firms were founded. For this reason they decided to establish Riverflex – an ‘open consulting firm’ consisting of high quality vetted independent professionals and small partners. In this model, professionals can join from tier one consultancies, top agencies or industry blue-chips to deliver top consulting projects.

“Digital is transforming companies at a faster pace than ever, and business needs are evolving too," Victor Hoong said. "We dreamt of a top consultancy that could match these needs, and deliver real impact; a consultancy with digital in its DNA. Connecting teams of top independent talent from the best consulting firms and industry leading companies, and enabling them to do what they love: creating real value based on true expertise.”

Andre Azadehdel further elaborated: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Victor and I have worked in consulting since the turn of the century, helping businesses become better. We love this work. Helping others deliver hard business results is rewarding, challenging and exciting. But we also saw that the gap between client needs and traditional consulting outcomes is too far apart.”

Since its launch, Riverflex has worked to set itself out as unique along four essential pillars of business. Central to the company is a willingness to foster innovation and work towards providing excellence. With businesses increasingly being convinced of the business case for diversity, Riverflex also hosts a network with a multitude of viewpoints and backgrounds, focusing on helping its members to grow in terms of professionalism, and as individuals.

“The independent model has become a rational choice for top talent. Abandoning old ways of working to take on rewarding projects and shape one’s own career path.”
– Andre Azadehdel, Riverflex co-founder

First year

In the last year a number of key steps have therefore been made. The organisation has grown into both the UK and the Netherlands, and is currently working with eight corporate clients. Meanwhile, over 300 consultants have joined Riverflex, which now boasts a huge amount of experience at top tier consultancies such as Bain & Company, McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, advertising agencies like Jellyfish, AKQA, Deloitte Digital, WPP and Publicis, and tech companies such as eBay, made.com, asos.com and bol.com.

Stating the firm’s emphasis on diversity, Hoong explained, “The variety of skill sets and backgrounds of our consultants means we can shape teams for our clients that have the muscle to robustly drive projects, combined with the deep know-how from professionals that wear the industry business scars needed to make a real impact.”

Azadehdel added, “The independent model has become a rational choice for top talent, abandoning old ways of working to take on rewarding projects and shape one’s own career path. We believe that being independent does not mean being alone. To us, being part of Riverflex means being part of a team of top digital professionals that share methods, knowledge and insights. Providing a real career alternative.”

Keen to show the strength and depth of its growing professional network, the company also hosts a monthly blog which highlights an exceptional Riverflex member. The most recent ‘Riverflexer in the Spotlight’ focused on former BearingPoint consultant Lies de Smit. In the past, De Smit had also worked at Deloitte Consulting's Technology practice. Despite her experience, however, she still entered the independent sphere with some trepidation – something which Riverflex helped her overcome.

Illustrating the importance of a network to freelancers, de Smit commented on Riverflex’s site, “I was afraid of what consulting would be like without having a team or people to discuss problems with… Riverflex is full of knowledgeable and experienced consultants. As an independent, I feel like being able to share my own knowledge can help all of us grow as consultants.”

“We work differently to work better. Better consulting from us, better lifestyles for our consultants, better results for our clients. This will be our focus and ambition.”
– Victor Hoong, Riverflex co-founder

The future

Having made such a promising start, Riverflex's leaders have already made extensive plans to capitalise on their momentum. The firm will continue to focus connecting independent specialists from the open-talent network to provide clients with the right skill sets, while also playing to the company’s strengths in rapidly providing specialist talent and interim management for the quickly shifting needs of clients.

Azadehdel said, “A year ago, Riverflex was just a dream. A year later, this is a real company, making real impact. Together with our consultants and clients, we are on a journey to build the consulting firm of the future from the ground up… Working with lean teams that only do what is needed to meet our clients goals, flexibly scaling up and down and applying digital tooling and agile ways of working to work faster and deliver effective results.”

Victor Hoong concluded, “We work differently to work better: better consulting from us, better lifestyles for our consultants and better results for our clients. This will be our focus and ambition – to continuously innovate and improve what we do and how we do it, delivering quality outcomes for clients.”