How FTI-BOLD helps its staff enjoy ‘the best of both worlds’

27 July 2022 Consultancy.eu 9 min. read

The dilemma is a familiar one to many young professionals entering consulting: is it best to build a career within a major international and multi-service group, or hone expertise within a small specialist player? Enter FTI-BOLD, which according to the firm offers the best of both worlds.

Since its foundation in 2013, BOLD has made its name as a boutique consultancy which values ​​entrepreneurship. The management consultancy supports clients with three lines of business: transactions, transformations and turnarounds.

Some seven months ago, BOLD joined FTI Consulting, in a deal which saw the US listed giant – FTI Consulting employs 6,600 professionals and generates $2.5 billion in annual revenue – enter the Dutch consulting scene.

FTI-BOLD brengt het beste van twee werelden samen

Now known as FTI-BOLD, the Dutch player has fitted in well with FTI Consulting’s broader offering – while being able to maintain its innovative and agile culture, said BOLD co-founder Gerrit van Munster. “Our entrepreneurial character was never under threat. FTI Consulting has similarly always nurtured a ‘can do’ mentality within its DNA.”

Six months on, Nienke Pronk, Transactions Manager, can wholeheartedly confirm this cultural synergy between FTI Consulting and BOLD, has manifested in this way. Speaking to Consultancy.eu, she explains that FTI-BOLD still has more than enough room for own initiative.

“Entrepreneurship and commitment are qualities that are strongly present within the team and I don’t think that will change anytime soon,” says Pronk, who came on board at BOLD more than a year before the takeover. “We still operate as the same boutique organisation: the lines are short and everyone is always open to a ‘bold’ move or idea.”

Blending entrepreneurialism and experience

Bart Robben joined FTI-BOLD in February 2022, joining as Director in Technology. He has never known the firm in its original form, but it is even clear to him that BOLD has managed to keep its distinctive identity. 

“FTI-BOLD originated from entrepreneurship,” Robben adds. “You notice that this is so deeply entrenched in the DNA that it will always be a distinctive part of the culture. Working at an international level and yet also being very involved with a company and the team itself is a really unique mix as far as I'm concerned.”

According to Robben, the hybrid approach of boutique entrepreneurialism and body that a firm brings with a footprint across all segments and corners of the globe provides clients with a distinct mix.

In his role, Robben focuses on technology. Not typically an offering associated with FTI-BOLD, but Robben explained that almost every assignment – across transactions, transformations or turnarounds – includes an element of technology.

“Our distinctiveness lies in the fact that we, together with our colleagues, can link technological change to organisational change in all its facets,” he notes. “Thankfully, technology does not become an end in itself, but remains an intrinsic part of organisational change.”

A view that is reinforced by Joost van Hout – another recent arrival with the firm. Not long after Robben’s arrival, Van Hout joined as a Manager in Transformations with FTI-BOLD, and has similarly picked up on the blend of “experience and knowledge” staff share with each other, helping integrated delivery.

“We don't think in fixed silos, but we encourage collaboration between the different teams,” Van Joost says, “to achieve the best result for our customers on the one hand, and to be able to continue to develop yourself on the other hand.”

Martijn van den Heuvel meanwhile came on board just over one year ago, and works as a Director in Turnarounds. He previously worked for large, international firms such as PwC and BDO – so life at a global consulting player like FTI Consulting felt familiar to him in a sense. “It sounds a bit cliché, but all players have the principle of ‘work hard, play hard’.”

In his view, there is an important difference at FTI-BOLD compared to his previous employers. “The entrepreneurial character and the pragmatic approach to our projects. This ensures short lines, a hands-on mentality and a lot of impact.”

Impact through collaboration

Every consultant wants to make an impact at they client they serve, but in the case of turnarounds, this concept is arguably more relevant than ever. The engagements being worked on often mean the difference between success or collapse of a company.

In the past year, Van den Heuvel was involved in various high-profile cases, including the case of Steinhoff International. The retailer faced financial difficulties, and struggled to pay its bills. The restructuring consultant supported the firm with assessing its options and safeguarding its continuity.

He currently supports another company that is facing various financial and operational challenges “which we are tackling step by step”. While the firm has already “achieved a lot” to that end – including a multi-year plan, new agreements with external stakeholders and a clean auditor’s report – he still believes there is much more to be done.

“For example, we are still busy strengthening the balance sheet with the help of a new shareholder. If successful, the company will be able to fully focus on operational improvements after this financial restructuring. In short: a challenging process in which we make a huge impact with FTI-BOLD.”

Transformations and transactions

Pronk focuses on the other two T’s that FTI-BOLD supports clients with: transformations and transactions. In previous consultancy roles, her work had been limited mostly to deal advisory – so she has enjoyed the opportunity to diversify.

“After my arrival, I could immediately start on a transformation assignment for a wholesaler. As a business consultant I assisted the CFRO with a wide range of financial and business analyses.”

At the same time, Pronk has found plenty of flexibility when it comes to alternating between transactions and transformations. This has provided a great deal of diversity in the work she has undertaken.

“I supported various financial due diligence projects, assisted a large European mail company with cost and process optimisation challenges and in recent months I have performed a number of buy-side due diligence assignments for AVerest Capital and Total Specific Hosting, among others.”

Pronk cites the affiliation with FTI Consulting as ensuring that FTI-BOLD can win larger, and more international projects. “We already worked together with a British team from FTI Consulting on a project for the postal company.”

Having also worked on a cross-border engagement since the integration, Van Hout adds, “In collaboration with an English team, we analysed the organisational structure of a large corporate. We were able to provide optimisation advice with the help of a tool developed by FTI Consulting. And in the coming months I will be working with FTI colleagues on a project in the Middle East to develop a cash flow forecast model.”

“The FTI network offers plenty of opportunities, which means that we can now enrich our capabilities and take a more international lens to our work,” says Pronk enthusiastically. Robben agrees that the international network of FTI Consulting brings with it deep knowledge in many areas, something that still leaves FTI-BOLD staff “positively surprised every day” – and offers a lot of opportunities, because “we are never shy of real knowledge anymore.”

But this appreciation goes both ways, too. “BOLD is praised within FTI Consulting for its strong and expansion-driven culture. And despite the fact that we are only a small organisation within a larger whole, we receive commitment and the support needed to further expand our base in the Netherlands and the region,” states Robben.

The best of both worlds

Celebrating its hybridised heritage, FTI-BOLD recently launched its Why Compromise? campaign, which encourages professionals caught between joining international conglomerates and independent boutiques to explore a career with FTI-BOLD.
FTI-BOLD launches recruitment campaign 'Why Compromise'

Illustrating why this might be worth considering, the four professionals told Consultancy.eu that while they are each part of a different team, they all agree that the best of both worlds come together in FTI-BOLD. And in addition to the firm’s customers, they also benefit from this themselves, including in the development they go through as a consultant.

“Everyone within FTI-BOLD can determine their own career,” says Van Hout. “I myself have the ambition – in addition to assignments with our existing customers – to work on international projects. The FTI network offers plenty of opportunities, which means that I can now do an assignment abroad, even though I have only been working at FTI-BOLD for three months.”

Van den Heuvel adds he particularly likes the fact that the office is involved in projects from start to finish. While there is a perception major players tend to get stuck in analysis/advice without getting their hands dirty, FTI-BOLD distinguishes itself with a third pillar, of execution.

“I missed the execution at my previous employers,” he explains. “Here, you can make a difference by implementing the prepared plans together with the company. We are not afraid to take responsibility for that. I learn something new every day and FTI-BOLD gives me every opportunity to gain experience in the execution phase of a restructuring.”

As a young professional, meanwhile, Pronk is first and foremost pleased with the variety in assignments she interacts with in transactions and transformations. She gets to analyse companies for financial due diligence on the one hand, while on the other, she can also look behind the scenes in a transformation assignment to understand a firm’s inner-workings. That is something “fun and educational.”

“But what makes FTI-BOLD a really nice place as far as I’m concerned”, Pronk adds immediately, “is mainly the great atmosphere and the team.”

“Absolutely”, agrees Robben. “It is truly a privilege to be part of such a strong international organisation – with all the great opportunities that come with it – and at the same time to be able to form such an enterprising, close-knit and friendly team.”