Less hierarchy & more entrepreneurship, that's the future

29 June 2023

TriFinance aims to double its revenue from 72.6 million euros in Belgium in the coming years. The consultancy company addresses the shortage of talent in the labor market and what CEO Xavier Gabriëls identifies as the greatest challenge for businesses: dealing with uncertainty. (Source: Trends)

People first

The international consultancy firm TriFinance is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year. It positions itself between staffing companies that provide temporary support and consultancy firms such as the Big Four (Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG), which offer advice as well as auditing and auditing services. TriFinance, however, does not offer the latter. It focuses entirely on the combination of temporary support and pragmatic advisory.

What sets TriFinance apart is its unique philosophy, which prioritizes the growth of its employees. "The stronger the motivation of our people, the better the results. This enables them to grow and develop, and our clients as well," explains Xavier Gabriëls, CEO of TriFinance Belux. "Hence our philosophy: people first. Our people come first."

The employees of TriFinance are primarily specialists in finance, operations, and risk management in various sectors, ranging from companies and financial institutions to the public sector. They determine their own career paths, and based on that, TriFinance accepts assignments and clients. That is why they are internally referred to as 'Me Inc.-ers', individuals who take their careers into their own hands.

Belgium has been TriFinance's main market since its establishment. TriFinance, which is part of the Dutch holding ParkLane Insight founded by Gert Smit, has more than 1.000 Me Inc.-ers, with 700 of them active in Belgium. The company has six offices in Belgium, located in Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, Hasselt, Roeselare, and Louvain-la-Neuve. These offices generate a combined revenue of 72.6 million euros, contributing to a group total of 109.8 million euros. TriFinance is also active in the Netherlands, Germany, and Luxembourg.

"In Belgium, for the third consecutive year, we achieved double-digit revenue growth in 2022," says Gabriëls. "This puts us significantly ahead of the market."

Gabriëls aims to double the revenue in Belgium to 140 million euros within five years. This growth is expected to come from the Brussels and Wallonia regions, where TriFinance has established a presence in recent years. "We have separated the activities in Brussels and Wallonia, allowing each region to have its own dedicated teams. In Wallonia, we currently have 37 employees, and we aim to double that number rapidly. We are also considering opening additional offices in the region in the future."

Our way of working is different than other consultancy companies, with more freedom to shape your role.

Xavier Gabriëls, CEO TriFinance Belux, TriHD & TriTechnology

Two new brands

In addition to its existing services, TriFinance is expanding its offerings in two domains and launching two new brands: TriHD and TriTechnology. While TriFinance primarily supports financial departments, TriHD aims to assist companies' HR departments with strategic transformation projects. TriHD focuses on human development operations, payroll, talent development, talent acquisition, and optimizing and automating processes to improve employee experience.

TriTechnology is still in the early stages and supports companies in leveraging new technologies and digitizing systems and processes. Both TriHD and TriTechnology are currently available only in Belgium and have not been introduced in other countries.

"TriHD counts 33 consultants after a year and a half," says Gabriëls. "For now, we offer the service only in our offices in Antwerp and Ghent, and to clients in the financial sector. The intention is to expand the offering to Brussels this year and next. That should contribute to a real growth spurt by 2025. I expect that by the end of 2025, we will have a hundred consultants with this focus on our team."

Does TriFinance itself find the right people? "We see many 'boomerangs,' people who leave us but return after some time. Their main motivation is the freedom and flexibility they have in planning their careers with us. Lately, we have also seen more consultants transitioning from the Big Four firms. They see that our way of working is different, with more freedom to shape their role."

Managers should focus on future-oriented decision-making. This requires different human skills, less focus on hierarchy, more on entrepreneurship.

Xavier Gabriëls, CEO TriFinance Belux, TriHD & TriTechnology

Looking forward is more important

Gabriëls emphasizes that companies face a crucial challenge: learning to deal with uncertainty. "Managers prefer predictability and control based on historical data. However, this approach is counterproductive and does not foster organizational agility. In recent years, it has become clear that looking forward is more important than looking back. Scenario planning plays an essential role: 'What if... do we have...?' This is crucial because only half of financial managers express satisfaction with their ability to make future-oriented decisions based on accurate data."

This requires different human skills. Gabriëls states, "The role of financial management is evolving. The learning ability of the individual, the team, and the entire organization becomes crucial. Inspirating, empathy, attitude, design thinking, collaboration, networking – these are the keywords for the future. Less hierarchy and more entrepreneurship. By linking projects to the ambitions of our people, we can ensure the right growth path."

TriFinance invests in the growth of its own people by organizing tailor-made training programs such as the Finance & Administration Academy and Controlling Academy. "70 percent of CFOs face a shortage of personnel. They are looking for that kind of expertise." But the company also has other programs, such as the Emerging Leaders Program, which prepares employees for leadership roles in a knowledge-sharing network organization.

Launching Young Innovation Board

A few years ago, TriFinance also initiated a Young Innovation Board in Belgium, an advisory group consisting of young individuals who discuss strategic topics with Gabriëls. In the market, it is sometimes referred to as a shadow board (an alternative board of directors).

"It's a fantastic instrument to capture the ideas of young employees and to remain updated as a board of directors," says an enthusiastic Gabriëls. "It's a way to give a voice to the youth and increase their involvement. Their advice is taken into account by the management team, allowing them to make their mark on the company's policies. Meanwhile, a Young Innovation Board has also been established in the Netherlands and Germany."