Benefits of the Boutique: An Interview


In my role as Manager of Talent Acquisition, I’m fascinated by the information sharing and data collected throughout the interview process. One of the most interesting recurring themes from my five years with Citisoft is the debate between boutique and Big Four firms. We have discussed and analyzed this topic from both the client and the candidate perspective, but what about our very own employees? Recently I sat down with two veteran Citisoft consultants to get the employee perspective and wanted to share their view on the blog. Read on for my questions and their take.



Ken Barnet is a Principal Consultant with 25 years of progressive technology and operations experience in the investment management industry. Ken has provided both advisory and delivery services to large, global asset managers and service providers. Throughout his career, Ken has been fortunate to have worked at both Big Four and boutique consulting firms.


RajShah.pngRaj Shah is a Senior Consultant with 10 years of experience servicing the industry including working with some of the world’s largest investment managers and service providers. Prior to joining Citisoft, Raj spent seven years at two large global asset managers.



Shannon: Citisoft is committed to transparency and openness. You’ve worked in a variety of settings for different firms over the course of your careers, can you speak to how Citisoft’s communication impacts the firm?

KB: If there’s one standout differentiator between boutique and larger organizations it would have to be transparency and open communication. Citisoft provides a high degree of transparency and open communication—right from the top of the house. Each month, we are privy to company financials, the sales pipeline, and resource allocations to name a few. We also receive updates from the company’s administrative leaders (e.g., HR, IT, finance, training, recruiting) and the opportunity to raise concerns or provide suggestions for improvements in an open forum. While I did experience transparency and open communication in the Big Four environment, it was not at the degree or frequency of what we have at Citisoft.

RS: Large consultancies have their own strengths when it comes to producing results for clients, but because we have transparency and open communication at Citisoft, I find our teams spend most of the time increasing value for the client with very clear goals in mind. At larger consultancies, employees often juggle overhead tasks that have minimal impact on a client assignment.

Shannon: Some assume that larger or global always means better compensation. How would you compare the compensation models of boutiques vs the Big Four?

RS: Experienced consultants look for challenging projects with increasing responsibilities, innovation in our industry, competitive compensation, and most importantly good work/life balance. That’s exactly what Citisoft offers. We have an opportunity to advance our careers with nearly perfect harmony.

KB: From a compensation and benefits perspective, I find the boutique consulting companies have more flexibility and creativity. For example, Citisoft offers revenue sharing, spot bonuses, reimbursements for gym membership and wearable fitness devices, and is constantly looking at opportunities to enhance our overall benefits package. 

Shannon: How would you classify the differences in culture between the two environments?

KB: In the boutique environment—at least as far as Citisoft is concerned—each employee helps to actively shape the culture, as opposed to a culture being driven from the top down. 

RS: Early in my career, working for a large asset manager, I gained a unique skillset within the industry. When I started to look for ways to advance my career in the consulting world, the biggest concerns I had were: Will my skills and interests be important or will I be a widget? Will my skills and career interests get lost in the race of promotion? Will I have transparency on the direction of the firm? What’s made Citisoft the right place for me is that I know I have a voice, I know where I stand and my growth track is clear, and leadership is transparent and direct.

Shannon: In a nutshell, what do you enjoy about being at Citisoft over past experiences at larger organizations?

RS: Regardless of the size, duration, or direction of the project, when a client hires a consulting firm, the basic expectation from a consulting role is to add value that meets client goals. It is much easier to be an effective consultant when you, your team, your boss and the company think in the same direction and possess similar knowledge.

KB: In a prior blog entitled “Why Bigger Companies Are Not Always Better” I blogged about the challenges larger companies can encounter with more onerous processes, systems and communication channels. While larger companies have a “scale” advantage, their size can hamper flexibility and agility. At Citisoft, I find we are oftentimes able to react very quickly to new opportunities, and we can be creative in our approach. This results in more challenging and expansive career opportunities and makes for an exciting and rewarding place to be!

For more information on careers at Citisoft, click here.