When Espen Skogen (42) left Royal Bank of Canada in 2018, he was determined that his new consultancy company would be different than the competition. “Having been on the inside of big banks for many years, I have seen first-hand the amount of waste and inefficiencies created by consultancy companies selling technology solutions to in-house technology staff with no appreciation for how to solve the business problem. Our firm will never be part of that problem.”
Joining forces for the first time in 20 years, Mr Skogen reached out to Nigel Knight (45), and Insurance Operations Executive, with whom Skogen had run a company many years earlier.
“When Espen called and suggested we get together and do it all over again, it was an easy decision for me. The first time we were in business, we did everything wrong. Still, we were both 20 years older and wiser, and the combination of skills we both had gained, and the strategy of setting the business problem first were in my mind the way a modern consultancy ought to be run.”
The strategy seems to be working. The firm, RocketFin Consulting, is now established in both London and New York, and the senior management team has been bolstered with Donovan Ransome (45), an industry veteran in the Market Data space, and Tim Griffin (54), formerly head of the Credit Desk at RBC.
“Having Tim, in particular, join our senior leadership team was a gamechanger for us. We were always clear that business-led consulting strategy was the way to meet our clients’ needs but having a heavyweight such as Tim in the leadership team made for a much-improved proposition.” says Mr Skogen.
He continues “We still do the technical delivery work that a lot of other consultancies do. We have an army of consultants with certifications in anything from AWS and Kubernetes to Kafka, Tibco, Mongo or any of the other buzz words you hear in a technology consultancy. Where we differ though, is that we don’t sell the technology itself. It’s the application that is important. You will never see us in a meeting extolling the virtue of Kafka to a business audience. We are about solving problems – Not selling technology.”
It is apparent from the team the firm has built that this isn’t a regular consultancy. The consultants of the Quant practice the firm has recently established are the type of consultants you would expect to find on a major bank trading floor. “I am particularly proud of our quant practice. Although we didn’t set out to build this particular practice when I started the firm, we saw a need within one of our clients, and we were able to build out a practice to support that need in a matter of weeks. At this stage, we can say that every single quant we have employed hold a PhD in Maths or Physics, and every single one of them has spent years on the trading floor of a major Sales Side organisation. I think you would struggle to find the level of expertise we have anywhere outside of the large Tier 1 banks. Not bad for a 2-year-old consultancy”
The firm is not done with expansion, though. About to sign a new lease for larger offices in both London and New York, and recruiting in both regions, it is clear Skogen, and his team has more extensive plans in front of them. “We have had a successful year, and our growth since incorporation has been in the triple digits, but we’re not done expanding. Our existing client base now includes two banks, two exchanges, multiple clearinghouses and a handful of FinTech firms. Our practice is growing, and we have recently hired in-house general counsel in order to better be able to deliver complete advice within our regulatory practice. We are also looking at bolstering our insurance offering this year, so watch this space.”