Digital consultant Comatch expands presence in the Netherlands

18 March 2016

In December last year Comatch, a digital platform that helps clients find independent consultants, launched its operations in Netherlands. To accelerate its growth in the market, the platform has expanded its team in Amsterdam with Sergey Punzhin, who joins as business development manager.

Comatch is an online consulting-platform that matches demand from companies and governments with freelance consultants. Launched in 2014 in Germany, the digital platform has since its inception grown to a database of more than 700 (experienced) management consultants, all of which according to the firm can build on an extensive track record in consultancy and in the industry.

In the summer of 2015 the two co-founders, Christoph Hardt and Jan Schächtele, both former consultants of McKinsey & Company, on the back of a seed investment revealed international expansion plans, and five months down the line the first market entry had turned into reality. The Netherlands was the first stop – followed by a second location opening, in Copenhagen, Denmark, serving as the hub for the Nordic region.

Over the past three months the Dutch operations have made strides, says Hardt to, adding that the inflow of consultants is on the rise, whilst at the same time, arguably more important, clients have been finding their way to Comatch’s services. To accommodate for the growth, and further adoption, Comatch has brought Sergey Punzhin on board, who has been based in the Netherlands since he was six, when he relocated from Russia. Punzhin holds a Master of Engineering from Imperial College London, an MBA from Webster University Leiden and in 2013 promoted from the University of Groningen.

Punzhin has been tasked with growing the Dutch footprint of the Berlin-headquartered venture, and aims at mirroring the firm’s success in the German speaking countries (DACH). “The Netherlands is for us a market with a large potential – since 2009 the number of independent consultants active in the field of management consulting has nearly doubled to around 80.000 freelancers,” he comments, adding that he aims at hitting the mark of 20 “high-impact” projects in the country by the end of 2016.

The growth will however be selective, he stresses, as the firm seeks to remain faithful to its high-end positioning in the marketplace, a feat which according to Punzhin distinguishes the platform from the wealth of freelancing platforms in the Netherlands geared at the low-end of the spectrum. “Our ambition is to become first choice for high class consulting. Our criteria for consultants are therefore high: a minimum of 3 years of consulting experience or at the least 10 years of practice in a specific industry,” reflects Punzhin. Sectors Comatch serves include among others government, food, retail, transport & logistics, technology, automotive, as well as chemicals and manufacturing.

For clients, digital platforms represent an opportunity to lower the fees they spend on management consultants. Although data is not readily available – consulting rates, fixed or time & material, are shrouded in secrecy – analysts say buyers can save up to 50% on their consulting budgets through the use of lean and mean suppliers, compared to the traditional big shots in the industry. The trade-off comes with a cost, however, in particular when it comes to the likes of reputation, liabilities and scalability, a line of thought that is, not surprisingly, fiercely contested by the new players on the block.

Other players active in the higher segment of the Dutch freelancing market for management consultants include Eden McCallum, also a player launched by former McKinsey consultants, and VirtualCC, a local venture. All three players behind the scenes follow manual matching process, stating they integrally consider both hard and soft skills, as well as conduct in-depth interviews with consultants earmarked for staffing.


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Rapid growth sees Quantum Advisory promote trio of partners

18 April 2019

Three senior level consultants have been boosted to the rank of Partner at Quantum Advisory, as the firm works to meet heightened levels of client demand. Aled Edwards, Amanda Burdge and Chris Heirene become Partners as long-time Quantum member Rob Davies retires in May after 15 years as a Partner at the firm.

Founded in 2000, Quantum Advisory provides pension and employee benefits services to employers, scheme trustees and members, with five offices across the UK. The firm has enjoyed exponential growth in recent years, following a number of major client wins and booming demand for its services. It opened a new office in Bristol in 2016 to service the South West and in 2017 relocated its Cardiff office to a larger site within the Welsh capital to house the increased workforce. More recently, Quantum relocated its Amersham, Birmingham and London offices to more spacious premises in the centre of both cities to cope with demand.

The financial services consultancy, which employs 115 people across the UK, has promoted three senior team members to Partner, as part of its wider growth plans. The firm has moved Aled Edwards from Principal Consultant & Actuary, while Amanda Burdge has ascended from Principal Investment Consultant. Chris Heirene, former IT Manager, has also joined the ten current Partners at Quantum.

Aled Edwards most recently managed the actuarial team within Quantum’s Cardiff office as well as providing technical training for all staff. He boasts more than 17 years of pensions experience. He started his career as an Actuary at Jardine Lloyd Thompson’s Bristol wing, before joining Quantum in 2011. Edwards is also the President of the Welsh Actuarial Society (WAS), which supports actuaries and actuarial students living or working in Wales.

Rapid growth sees Quantum Advisory promote trio of Partners

Amanda Burdge joined Quantum’s team in 2001, as one of the fledgling firm’s first employees. Most recently she was a Principal Investment Consultant with the firm, and with more than a quarter of a century’s experience in the sector, she is responsible for providing investment advice to many of Quantum’s key clients with both defined benefit and defined contribution schemes. Prior to her time with Quantum, Burdge spent two years as a consultant with SBJ Benefit Consultants (now Capita), and three years with Tesco Pension Trustees. She currently sits on the Regulation Committee for the Pensions Management Institute.

Chris Heirene initially worked with Quantum as an IT Consultant with Teamwork Technology Services and then UES for over five years, before finally joining the firm itself in 2011. He is now responsible for Quantum’s IT systems across all of its offices, including the network and core server infrastructure which supports the business. Heirene is heavily involved in utilising IT to improve and build upon the processes in place throughout Quantum.

David Deidun, Partner at Quantum Advisory, said of the promotions, “This is a very exciting time for Quantum. The recent round of promotions fully recognise the hard work and dedication shown by the three, all of whom go above and beyond for the company. I’ve no doubt that Aled, Amanda and Chris will settle into their new roles with ease and look forward to working together to grow Quantum even further.”

The news comes as Rob Davies retires in May, after spending fifteen years as a Partner at Quantum. A qualified actuary, Davies was instrumental in setting up Quantum’s Investment Division, specialising in aiding clients with their investment strategies. He will remain with the company on a part-time consultancy basis, while working with several clients in the Fiduciary Manager area.