- Consulting growth increases by 18% in 2021, up from 4.5% in 2020 as clients seek external support during period of major disruption, digital transformation and focus on sustainability priorities
- 14% more jobs supported by sector, in 279 offices across the whole of the UK, with the number of graduates, apprentices and school leavers increasing year on year
- Global clients turn to UK’s leading consulting sector for expert advice with over £2.16 billion of MCA member services exported
- Training and professional development increases across industry up 25%. Meanwhile 50 firms and 4000 individuals join journey to become Chartered Management Consultants.
- Number of consulting firms publishing diversity and inclusion data pushes up and direction of travel remains positive but acceleration in pace of change still needed
The UK consulting sector grew by 18% in 2021 to £14.4 billion and is forecast to grow further in the next two years according to the latest MCA Annual Industry Report, conducted by independent research body Savanta. Growth was experienced across all sectors but the fastest increase was experienced in Infrastructure (up 34%), Manufacturing (29%) and Energy Sectors (21%) as businesses kick started new projects, delayed due to the pandemic and firms focused on digital transformation and achieving sustainability goals. Smaller firms achieved the most notable growth up 27% year on year. Exports increased year on year, now 30% of all revenue generated, as global clients turn to British firms for world class consulting services.
Given the step change in demand from clients, firms have increased the number of staff they employ rapidly, up 14% with 88,000 management consultants now employed across the sector. The industry is employing more graduates, apprentices and school leavers than ever before and in 2021 there was a 51% increase in graduates and 5% rise in the number of apprentices hired, primarily among larger firms. MCA member firms provide employment across the UK with 279 offices based outside of London in cities such as Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast. Nearly half (47%) of all employees are now based outside the capital and a third (35%) of new jobs were created outside of London. Training and development have increased across the industry with MCA member firms now providing on average 7.9 days of training per year compared to 6.3 the previous year. Firms have also invested significantly in the time and effort spent on the new Chartered Management Consultant award with 50 firms now engaged, 4000 consultants on the journey and over 600 consultants now successfully Chartered. Whilst in 2020 over half (57%) of firms reduced their office space the majority last year maintained or grew their office footprint in 2021 up 79%. The trend towards hybrid working looks set to continue with on average, employees spending 2 days in the office per week.
The MCA continues to champion diversity and inclusion in the sector and member participation in the MCA Annual Report enables the trade body to monitor the progress of the industry across time. Encouragingly more firms are now collecting and measuring data on diversity and inclusion up 6% over the previous year. Two in five (41%) of consultants are women which is similar to 2020 (40%) and at partner level the proportion of women grew from 21% in 2020 to 25% in 2021. The MCA also surveyed representation from minority ethnic backgrounds and estimate that a quarter of consultants identify this way which is higher than the UK working age population (17%). At partner level 10% identify as being from an ethnic minority background a small increase (up 2%) from the previous year. Firms reported that 7% of consultants at partner level were Asian or Asian British and only 1% were Black African, Caribbean or Black British showing there is continued room for improvement.
Tamzen Isacsson, Chief Executive of the Management Consultancies Association (MCA), said:
“In the last year the consulting sector has been fortunate to experience significant growth as clients across the world have turned to the UK’s leading professional sector for expert help during a period of considerable disruption and high demand for digital transformation. This has enabled firms to invest in thousands of more jobs across the UK, opening up regional talent pools and giving more opportunities for graduates and school leavers. Our future growth is inextricably linked to the success of our clients and though consulting forecasts are positive there is a risk of an economic downturn impacting many sectors across the UK. Our unwavering efforts as an industry towards diversity and inclusion continue and the latest figures show the direction of travel remains positive but to achieve greater progress our pace of change must accelerate faster.”
The strongest growing sectors for consultancy spend were primarily in the private sector with government and public sector expenditure the 6th largest growing sector at 16% below financial services and Digital and Technology. The proportion of consultancy work in the public sector as a share of the total remains fairly stable with around £3.7 billion spent by Government at a local and national level on consultancy services in the last period.
The MCA’s Annual Industry Report 2022 provides an unrivalled assessment of the performance of the leading consulting firms in the UK which are part of the trade body the Management Consultancies Association. The report examines fee income data provided by member firms over recent years to identify the size, diversity, and growth trajectory of consulting activity of MCA members, as well as the wider consulting industry. Independent market research agency Savanta, partnered with the MCA to collect and analyse industry data for the 2022 report.