Our story has been many years in the making, growing, changing and getting more exciting every day. Whilst we have big plans for the future, we recognise how important it is to reflect on where we have come from and how we got to this point. ProjectiveGroup is so much more than the original company and the entities that have come together, each have their own individual brand and story to tell. Their knowledge and solid reputation in their respective markets are what has helped us position our practices more broadly as one. We know that in order to move forward together successfully and capitalise on everything that we have all worked hard to build, we must not only respect but embrace our history by valuing each ProjectiveGroup member for their uniqueness, whilst sharing a similar DNA.
The first 13 years
The first decade of the new millennium saw Financial Services firms investing in change programmes on an unprecedented scale. Twenty years of deregulation, consolidation and advances in technology had created a competitive landscape where a failure to adapt was a fast track to an existential crisis. Firms embarked on massive programmes and engaged small armies of external consultants in a stretched labour market whose deficiencies had created a war for talent. However, despite these extraordinary levels of investment, the demand continued to increase whilst the number of successfully completed transformation programmes remained modest. The approach of simply making large pools of capital expenditure available just didn’t work.
Against this backdrop in 2006, the founders of Projective launched their small consultancy in Belgium designed to challenge the maxim that scale automatically accelerated change. From the beginning, Projective focussed on deploying small senior teams who could shape change strategy and provide execution capability and capacity to deliver. Leveraging the founders’ senior relationships created mission opportunities that established the Projective reputation and allowed the new organisation to grow.
The sharp change in fortunes for the Financial Services sector, most notably marked by the failure of Lehman Brothers in autumn of 2008, increased the appetite for the targeted and highly efficient Projective approach. Faced with catastrophic revenue challenges, hurried new regulatory obligations, forced consolidation and macro-economic uncertainty, the pressure for change had never been greater. In this environment the nimble, senior, trusted advisor enjoyed enormous benefits over the behemoths with their huge workforces to keep employed, and Projective had the chance to open offices in the Netherlands (2009) and London (2010). The client agenda had changed, but the Projective approach combining strategy and execution via small and senior teams was proving as effective as ever.
Projective remained in three countries for the next few years, acquiring ProDone and W.I.K. Consulting in the Netherlands and Belgium respectively, to provide a step change growth boost. Continued success in the first three countries then facilitated tenth anniversary expansion into Germany and France in 2017 and Switzerland in 2021.
The creation of ProjectiveGroup
The acquisition of the tech talent incubator Exellys in 2019, doubling European headcount to 300, could be seen as the final act of Projective before the emergence of ProjectiveGroup. Whilst much of the success Projective had enjoyed so far was directly attributed to the seniority of the consultants, with most offering between ten and twenty-five-years’ experience, the team were aware of missed opportunities for the right mix of junior talent for certain missions. With a proven track record of talent attraction, talent development, and deployment, it was clear that Exellys was the perfect complement to Projective.
The acquisition of Exellys followed the firm buying back a majority capital stake from Diebold Nixdorf that Wincor Nixdorf had acquired in 2016. Emboldened with the successful assimilation of Exellys into the Projective team, and liberated to find a new capital partner, the leadership embarked on creating a “Buy & Build” programme to jump start the next wave of growth and initiate the transition to ProjectiveGroup.
The Buy & Build programme is governed by a simple yet effective motto: one plus one must equal three. Our priority when approaching businesses is to ensure they can either strengthen the existing capabilities of ProjectiveGroup or add new ones such as expertise in data, payments, transformation, risk & compliance, data and other possible domains.
We also look to set up new competence centres in other key European Financial Services cities and in terms of clients, we look for a healthy adjacency, where the reach of the ProjectiveGroup can be extended in both directions. One plus one must equal three. By doing so, we are intelligently building our presence and offerings, whilst maintaining deep-domain expertise. This is in order to offer our clients the best of both worlds, a partner that can offer everything under one roof, backed up by genuine knowledge and expertise.
This motto also applies to our people. Whether they are founders, partners or graduates, all of them must possess the intrinsic belief that together, we can be more impactful than any of us alone. You see, the Buy & Build programme is not just about buying companies. It is about building a ProjectiveGroup family of businesses in which each member is valued for their uniqueness yet shares a similar DNA.
In addition to Exellys and Projective, four businesses have joined ProjectiveGroup within 18 months. Each of them delivering against the required axes of capability, geography, clients, and DNA compatibility.
Data specialists DTSQUARED joined ProjectiveGroup in August 2021, adding 85 consultants in the UK, and bringing new data capability to the firm as a whole. With a client roster that includes several tier-one banks and other key Financial Services organisations, DTSQUARED has a seven-year track record of harnessing skills in data management governance, cloud data engineering, and other specialist areas in conjunction with a highly business centric approach to solving client problems.
Two months later, ProjectiveGroup welcomed the Dutch firm Mastermind Consulting and its 35 staff to the family. Much of Mastermind’s experience in organisational acceleration, strategic advice and digital transformation fit seamlessly with the ProjectiveGroup mission portfolio, and Mastermind adds heavyweight credibility in the pensions arena at a time of significant change in that market. With a clear DNA match, once again ProjectiveGroup had found a new partner that fulfilled every criteria of the Buy & Build checklist.
ProjectiveGroup still needed a step change to the firm’s payments capability. Just six months after Mastermind joined the Group, that need was comprehensively met as the 40-strong team from Enigma Consulting became the newest addition to the fold. With risk management, fintech innovation and compliance experts in addition to their renowned payments expertise, it was another perfect match. The acquisition of Enigma Consulting took ProjectiveGroup above the 500 experts mark and comprehensively proved the repeatability of the Buy & Build strategy.
Six months later the acquisition of Charco & Dique, strengthens ProjectiveGroup’s legal, risk & compliance services and grows the team to approximately 580 billable consultants and 650 people in total.
Meet the founder
At the age of 33, Stefan Dierckx got tired of the way standard consultancies ran their business and decided to do something about it. He had the ambition to conquer the financial services industry (or at least the European one) with a different model, a different offering and a very collaborative approach. In December 2006, he launched Projective, a boutique consultancy in Belgium. Offices in The Netherlands (2009) and UK (2010) followed soon after. Projective focused on deploying senior individuals or small teams who specialised in IT project delivery and later evolved into a consultancy that could also shape and implement change strategies, support organisations to become and stay compliant, and implement and accelerate (digital) transformations.
Leveraging the founders’ senior relationships created mission opportunities that established the Projective reputation and allowed the organisation to grow. In 2017, Projective added Germany and France to its roster, and Switzerland a few years after. Over a 16-year period, the company has grown into a strong European player with over 200 consultants.
“We saw a gap in the market and knew from our own experience that this was an area where clients needed more support. What started off as a smaller boutique organisation grew into ProjectiveGroup, a 650+ strong Group, ranking as one of the top players in our chosen markets, able to tackle the biggest challenges faced by financial services institutions across Europe. What makes me proudest of all, is that ProjectiveGroup is so much more than a consultancy. It is the home of extraordinary businesses, each with their own individuality, contributing to the common DNA that makes up our Group.”
Change is more than an option; it has become a necessity. The key to a successful digital transformation is the ability to translate technology to the human measure & connection.
ProjectiveGroup covers all aspects of transformation in the financial services sector. By combining the capabilities of expert companies, we have become an international end-to-end partner for those who want to excel in an ever-changing environment.
We shape businesses today to meet and exceed the challenges of tomorrow.