Comatch grows by expanding offering within value chain

18 March 2019

The Benelux Director of Comatch has explained that an evolving services offering is helping the independent consulting network enjoy rapid growth, amid a thriving gig economy in Europe. Tjeerd Wijffels said that, buoyed by growing trust in the firm as its network has excelled in more and more roles, it has increasingly moved into full-on service advisory and staffing work with trusted clients.

As independent consulting continues to go from strength to strength across Europe, Comatch, a marketplace which matches independent consultants with clients and projects, has expanded across the continent. Last year saw the number of management consultants and industry experts affiliated with the online marketplace pass the 6,500 consultants mark – the number currently stands at over 7,500.

With more than 120 employees, since its launch in 2015, founders and managing directors of the Berlin-based company have pushed to expand its global presence. This began in that same year, when former McKinsey consultants Christoph Hardt and Jan Schächtele masterminded the group’s arrival in the neighbouring Netherlands. Comatch quickly expanded its headcount in order to chase the firm’s growth target for the number of independent consultants in its network.

Since then, Comatch has entered most European countries with offices in the Nordics,  France, as well as in the Middle East and the US where the firm partners with consulting firms and private equity players. On the way, the start-up received millions of funding injection from Acton Capital Partners, Atlantic Labs and b-to-v Partners. On the back of last year, which saw Comatch open an office in the world’s second most mature consulting market of the UK, the firm might be forgiven for wanting to take a year to consolidate before making its next move, but according to its Benelux Director, its mission to expand is a long way from over.Comatch grows by expanding offering within value chainSpeaking to, Tjeerd Wijffels said, “I started in 2016, and together we built up the market from scratch. There were only a few Dutch consultants in our pool then, and no clients. Today, we have nine people focusing on the Benelux market.” In 2018, the Benelux region was one of Comatch’s top performing regions. “The Benelux market is quite welcoming to our business model, that has helped progress. Even the big consultancies are gaining a more collaborative mindset and more open, having previously only used their own people for projects.”

Reflecting on his two years with Comatch, Wijffels, who is based in Comatch’s Berlin head office, also revealed that changes in how Comatch operates have also helped drive growth. The company’s growing global footprint is now also helping clients to reach new climes with their services. He explained that consulting firms across Europe are now using Comatch’s expertise to improve their tendering opportunities, as Comatch moves from providing just a back-office service of staffing for projects, to a more front-office orientated role.

“Now we help [clients] with staffing, a feat which in the beginning was not the case,” he explained. “In the consulting market, leaders can be hesitant to work with new players. We have now been around for a few years and people are seeing the track record that we have built and the impact that we are delivering. This has led to more meetings and business with consultancies, reflecting the level of trust we have garnered.”

Expanding within the value chain

This has led to the firm being able to open up a line of operation which sees it move into a different ball-game from the pure marketplace for independent consultants model. With a burgeoning executive search function, which can help firms find employees for permanent (ComatchPerm) or interim positions and assist independent consultants with transitioning back into permanent roles (if they so choose), Comatch has found a way to expand within its own value chain.

Wijffels explained; “We have consultants in our network who are not necessarily dedicated to work independently for the rest of their lives. They maybe worked in consulting, then moved to corporate life, and then spent some time in freelance. For them, Comatch is great as it gives them projects from a range of places and service lines. At the time they decide to look around for other opportunities, our new operation enters the stage.”

Further exploring the notion that Comatch is looking to branch out from its core, Wijffels elaborated on how the company has transitioned more and more into a full-on service advisory and staffing firm to consultancies. “Consulting leaders increasingly understand the value of adding an operational expert to their proposal, to make their bid stand-out from competitors. Comatch helps clients win bids, staff projects, and recruit key people” – a much wider remit than the firm had previously marketed itself under.

Concluding, Wijffels said, “There are some consulting clients that really benefit from our network, that have realised the value of it, and in Germany for instance, we have clients which have sourced over 100 consultants from our platform. So with that level of being able to provide quality talent at a short notice, we are now seeing consultancies use us to grow into new markets. What I always say to the firms we work with is: ‘we have a big [talent] pool and we want to help you grow, so let’s do it together’.”


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Working as a young professional at ACE Company

19 April 2019

Janco Jordaan joined boutique consulting firm ACE Company seven months ago. The young professional reflects on the highlights of life with his new employer, as well as what he has learned since arriving at ACE.

ACE Company is a boutique consulting firm from the Netherlands that focuses on regulatory change in the financial services industry. The firm’s clients typically are financial institutions such as banks, insurance companies, asset managers and pension funds, as well as regulators and supervisors. Having enjoyed growing demand, the firm has been on a recruitment drive in recent months.

Having spent five years in the legal sector, Janco Jordaan decided that the time was right for a new challenge in consulting. He joined ACE as a Junior Consultant, driven by a desire to broaden his business knowledge. “ACE’s area of expertise – implementing regulatory change in the financial sector – promises for an exciting challenge, which I am definitely up for. I wanted to surround myself with experts; ACE was a perfect fit in this regard.”Working as a young professional at ACE CompanyDuring his first seven months, Jordaan, who holds a Master’s degree in International Business Law, has mainly been focused in the banking sector, working on analysis enabling a cross-domain understanding on the planning and maturity of regulatory topics throughout the bank. His work takes place at a time when regulatory change has grown into one of bank’s top strategic focus areas for the coming years. Amid a growingly complex landscape, and in a bid to curb reputational and operations risks, getting compliance right has elevated itself into a boardroom topic – the recent media attack on ING on the back of its AML blunder demonstrated just how important scrutiny can be.

Asked how he is able to keep his knowledge up to speed in order to operate at the forefront of change, he pointed to the full-fledged support from the team. “The seniority and diversity of ACE’s team means that there is a great deal to be learned from team members.” He added, “ACE embraces diversity. This means we have a team with all sort of different backgrounds e.g. different cultures and various career paths.”

Training on the job and a fixed curriculum for training ensures that knowledge and capacities are lined up with client demands. Jordaan: “We also have internal projects and knowledge sharing initiatives to ensure up to date knowledge. And every Friday, ACE organises a team meeting focused on knowledge transfer and team-building.”  

According to Jordaan, one of the best things about working at ACE however is the firm’s open culture. “To me the culture at ACE is best described by the words: balanced, sophisticated and real.”