The 25 best management consulting firms in the Netherlands

14 December 2018 Consultancy.eu

A new survey among decision-makers in the Netherlands has identified the consultancy firms which are making the biggest impact in their work. Top of the table are &samhoud, Dutch-origin consultancies Berenschot and BMC, and two of the global Big Four giants, Deloitte and PwC. 

The list, compiled by the Erasmus Center for Business Innovation for Dutch business magazine Management Team, assessed two components of performance. Customers of consulting companies were asked to evaluate management consultancy firms on customer orientation, product leadership and the quality of the execution, and in addition, the surveyed decision-makers (all of which have hired a consultancy firm in the past years) were asked to provide an overall satisfaction score per firm. By compiling the two components together, the researchers identified consultancies that not only enjoy a strong reputation in the market, but moreover those that provide the best rated offerings and services.

The top player, &samhoud, is a consulting firm from Utrecht that focuses on strategy, leadership and team development, change management, culture change and innovation. The company was founded in 1989 by Salem Samhoud, and is currently led by managing partners Femke de Vries and Leonie Arkesteijn. The consultancy firm is based in Utrecht, and has further offices in Germany and Malaysia.

According to Arkesteijn, the firm differentiates itself through its culture which inspires entrepreneurship. The latter is also reflected in the company's activities: &samhoud is not only a consulting firm, the company also ‘owns’ &samhoud food (which supplies vegetarian hamburgers to supermarkets), &samhoud media (run by Jip Samhoud, the founder’s son), &moshik (a 2** restaurant based in Amsterdam), serious game company &ranj, and healthcare company &niped. 

Commenting on the firm’s management consulting proposition, De Vries say;: “Our vision 'Together we build a brighter future' is the basis of all our activities. With this in mind, we help our customers achieve business goals, develop vision and strategy, implement and change behaviour. In doing so, we leverage our years of expertise in the field of change management. We combine these skills with creativity and innovation.”

The 25 best management consulting firms in the Netherlands

The number two, Deloitte, is a household name in the list of the Netherlands’ best management consultancies. Last year the firm also ranked second, and in 2016 the consultancy held the top spot. Deloitte Consulting is the largest consultancy in the list – the firm employs more than 1,000 consultants in the Netherlands and is active in the areas of strategy, mergers & acquisitions, operations, supply chain, finance, risk & compliance, human capital, digital and technology among others. Within Deloitte Consulting are two arms that provide specialist services: Monitor Deloitte (strategy consulting) and Deloitte Digital (digital marketing and creative services).

Berenschot takes third spot, the same position it held in the 2016 edition of the so-called MT100 publication. Berenschot celebrates its 80-year anniversary this year and, according to the views of consultancy buyers, the firm has firmly established itself as one of the leading players in the Dutch consulting market. In each of the four past years, Berenschot achieved a top-five position, with the consulting firm notching strong scores across the full range of dimensions that have been taken under scrutiny by the researchers. Berenschot is currently led by Hans van der Molen, who succeeded veteran Theo Camps (who led the firm as CEO for fourteen years) in September this year.

The winner of last year's edition, BMC, retains its position at the forefront with a 4th spot this year. BMC is a player that focuses purely on the public domain, working for clients such as ministries, provinces, municipalities, (semi-) public organisations and independent administrative bodies, as well as institutions in healthcare, education, social welfare and housing corporations. The firm is part of Yacht, which in turn is a subsidiary of Dutch staffing giant Randstad.

PwC is the second best performing management consulting firm of the Big Four, ahead of KPMG (in 8th position) and EY (in 16th position). The consultancy wing of PwC – PwC Advisory – is one of the fastest growing in the market: the practice now generates €222 million in revenue, compared to €140 million five years ago. In comparison, the consulting divisions of rivals KPMG and EY generate a turnover of approximately €190 million. All three players are active across the full breadth or the management and organisational consulting landscape, and serve clients from all industries and sectors. According to the surveyed managers, KPMG excels in product leadership, and PwC in customer orientation. 

The top 10 management consultancy firms is rounded off by Decos, a digital specialist that stands out for its high quality delivery; Altran, a French-origin company that is one of the globe's largest engineering consultancies; Accenture, with 460,000 employees globally one of the largest professional services firms in the world; and Willis Towers Watson, formed two years ago by the merger between the British Willis Group and the American Towers Watson.

Other consultancies that are highly esteemed by clients include large players such as Capgemini Invent, which was founded by Capgemini to combine its consulting offerings with its creative mix; Twynstra Gudde, a consultancy with around 250 consultants; Atos Consulting, the advisory operation of IT giant Atos; and CGI Consulting, the advisory wing of Canadian IT service provider CGI. Number 14 Rijnconsult is an organisational consultancy from Utrecht with a team of around 50 consultants and interim managers, while its closest pursuer, number 15 AevesBenefit, is a firm that specialises in consulting, interim and staffing services in the procurement landscape. The firm is the largest player in its field in the Netherlands, founded in 2017 by the joining of forces between Aeves and Benefit.

Two of the top 25 management consulting firms in the Netherlands specialise chiefly on HR consulting. Hay Group, the HR advisory unit of executive search company Korn Ferry, occupies the 18th place, while Leeuwendaal, which mainly focuses on the (semi-) public domain, ranks 19th on the list. Hay Group, which since this year internationally trades as Korn Ferry Advisory, is particularly lauded for its excellent execution, while Leeuwendaal received plaudits for its service portfolio across the human resources spectrum.

With a team of around 150 consultants and project managers in offices in the Netherlands and Belgium, AT Osborne specialises in spatial and infrastructure consulting. BDO, which earlier this year broke through the barrier of 2,500 professionals in the country, is the number five player in the accountancy market, with its consulting operation BDO Advisory generating fees of around €26 million.

The other three players who in the eyes of managers belong to the elite of the Netherlands’ management consultancy scene are Lean Consultancy Group, a firm that helps clients adopt the Lean and Agile philosophy; Q-Consult Progress Partners, a business consultancy specialised in process optimalisation, and; The Brown Paper Company, which last year underwent a change of ownership after the current management team acquired the firm’s shares from the founder. In 2014, The Brown Paper Company topped the ranking, and this year the consultancy rounds off the prestigious list at number 25. 

Related: Top strategy and management consulting firms in the Netherlands (2017 edition of the ranking).

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