Cultivating Success: The Boutique Consultancy Advantage
Having spent the first three years of my career with a global firm and benefitted from the scale and breadth of opportunity which that size affords, joining a boutique consultancy of ~60 people was a significant culture change. It was a leap of faith, but the opportunity to experience the other end of the consulting scale was one that I couldn’t pass up. It quickly became evident when I joined the firm that there was a very different way of life at Finyx, with the company growing and an all-hands-on-deck approach to all aspects of the business. This gave me the opportunity to involve myself in areas of business that I hadn’t previously had exposure to, working on internal services and initiatives, being an active part of developing the company’s offerings and getting to know colleagues from all over the business, both geographically and in terms of specialism. Being a part of all this whilst still delivering to my client has given me a really interesting variety in my work life.
Whilst I could happily wax lyrical about my own experience from the London office, I wanted to understand if my impressions of the world of a Boutique Consultancy were shared by my colleagues from across our offices. Given that we’ve all come to the firm with vastly different backgrounds and levels of experience, I sat down with two of my colleagues to hear their viewpoints. We discussed a whole range of topics, not only on the life of a boutique firm and its style of operating, but also on how this allows us to drive our own career paths, develop our specialisms and interests and deliver consistent excellence to clients. But before we get into that, a short introduction to Steph and Amber.
Steph Elphick, our COO, based out of our York office, has been with the company since 2021, having previously gained her accounting qualifications at Aviva. After a 13-year stint there, Steph went on to work in the energy sector, setting up a finance function for an SME firm, as well as working in engineering consulting as a financial controller and as head of finance for an online gaming firm.
Amber Maxwell, a Consultant working in our Belfast office has come through an entirely different background having joined the Brightstart Higher Apprenticeship Programme with Deloitte Belfast. Initially spending 3 years in the Oracle Delivery practice, she then moved to Application Managed Services for a further 3 years, before making the move to join Finyx.
Passion driven choices
Joining at different grades, working on vastly different activities and engagements and having different interests and specialisms, we all have unique motivations for our career choices. Myself, I made the switch to Finyx in search of the opportunity to really develop my specialism and shape my own career path, as well as hoping to gain experience in the life of a small business, rather than purely developing my professional specialisms. With these differences in mind, I wanted to find out what brought Steph and Amber to a boutique firm.
SE – “I love the added personal accountability of working with a small boutique firm. Every person really matters and is treated as an individual, you’re not just a number! You can make change without going through a Working Group or Steering Committee – its “real time” so everyone can make a difference.”
AM – “The opportunities to get involved and visibility of the whole firm is what really drew me to Finyx. I went from a company with 25,000+ people in the UK, not really interacting with many other departments or teams, to just over 60 at Finyx. There also is an aura that people want to not only be successful themselves but want the company to be successful and stand out among the larger firms across the industry.”
Benefits of boutique
For me, the opportunity that Finyx has given me to gain experience in multiple areas of a business has been a huge benefit. This has given me a more rounded knowledge of consulting as an industry and helped me branch out into other areas where I’ve found interest. This is something which has been really encouraged and supported by colleagues across the business, who’ve volunteered their time and insights to help me develop my own specialisms. I asked my colleagues what they had found most beneficial on a personal level, having joined a boutique firm.
SE – “It’s a very open culture at Finyx. That means the ability for everyone, at all levels to have exposure to C suite level managers as well as getting coaching and mentorship from senior consultants with a wealth of experience over long and diverse careers. This really creates a workplace where everyone is valued, and as a result everyone is really integral to the company and its success.”
AM – “The phrase ‘you’re not just a number’ has never been truer. Whether you’ve been here for 2 weeks or 2 years, you’re made to feel like part of the team right from the outset. You get to know everyone really well, both professionally and personally. You also get exposed to all areas of the firm, and you can tailor your career to the areas you want to work in. I’d also say that our Senior Leadership are a lot more hands on than I’ve ever encountered. They care about their staff and their well-being, as well as the firm’s. Personally, I’ve never worked with a CEO (or any SLT member) as closely as I do with Phil at Finyx and being around people with that level of expertise has been such a benefit for me and my career path in a short period of time.”
Small teams, big impacts
Having a close-knit team of individuals with a variety of expertise means that information and skill-sharing within the company are rapid and agile, and this was on a level that I hadn’t experienced before. We have really strong knowledge management, meaning that there are always resources and colleagues available to provide additional knowledge, information or even staff additional roles in specialist areas at high speed. In my experience this has meant a consistently strong response to the changing client requirements, and I wondered if Steph and Amber had a different view on how our size can be a benefit to our clients.
SE – “I see real benefit in our having specific, specialised resources who are genuinely agile and can adapt quickly to client requirements, without bureaucracy and process creating delays.”
AM – “Smaller companies are quite specific with the skills they hire, so the knowledge in a boutique firm is tailored to what our clients need. We have some of the most-knowledgeable people in their fields working within Finyx, making our quality of work, from my perspective, outstanding.”
Beyond the brochure
When I first joined Finyx, what surprised me the most was the level of social activity and genuine friendship amongst the employees within the company, spanning all offices and grades. Being smaller and having a genuinely flat company structure, I’ve found that it’s much easier to get to know people on a more personal level. That results in a really social and enjoyable environment around the offices. I asked Amber and Steph if there had been any surprises for them since joining the company.
SE – “Nothing really surprised me, I thrive in smaller firms and Finyx is the fourth I’ve joined…I would not contemplate working for a large corporation again it just doesn’t suit my skill set and personality.”
AM – “The clients we work with. I think a misconception about smaller firms is we don’t have the capacity to provide the same level of work as bigger firms, we don’t have the same number of clients in our books, but we do have similar clients of similar size to the big firms.”
Capable hands, proven success
Based on my own prior expectations, some people might assume that a small firm will lack experience or expertise, but joining Finyx, a firm largely comprised of widely experienced and specialised individuals I don’t think I could have been more wrong. The wealth of experience, acumen and capability in this firm is something I’m really proud to be a part of. I wondered if my colleagues had also found differences in the expectations and realities of the boutique firm.
SE – “Being a smaller firm we try to create opportunities for staff to gain experience across a multi-industry, multi discipline projects but this can prove difficult.”
AM – “From an employee perspective, I came in wanting to get involved in everything and really grow my own skillset, which so far, I think I’ve achieved. However, I think people associate ‘boutique’ with ‘lack of structure’ that a larger firm may have. From my own experience, this couldn’t be further from the truth. At Finyx, we have everything to run a successful company, we just happen to do it on a much smaller scale.”
Whilst having these conversations with Steph and Amber, it became apparent that the expertise within Finyx is not just a benefit to our clients but is a key part of what the company can offer to the individual. Especially as a junior or mid-level employee, the opportunity to work closely with, and be mentored by, experienced individuals who can class themselves as experts in their fields is a huge asset. This, combined with the freedom to explore your interests and specialisms, means there is a real growth mindset, where a win for the individual is a win for the company. What this creates is an organisation where everyone is driven to work for our collective success, because that is how we all benefit, and this can only be a positive for our clients, who benefit from the drive, insight and excellence that we seek to bring to every engagement.