Recruitment from Russell Group Universities declines again as management consultancies continue to broaden talent pool

  • The number of young consultants that attended a Russell Group university has fallen by 28% since 2011
  • Younger consultants more concerned about competitive salary and travel than sociable hours and flexibility which matter more to older consultants
  • 1 in 4 young consultants considering leaving UK after Brexit according to new independent research
  • Consultancy sector continues to grow, up 8% in 2019 with 6% growth estimated for the next 12/24 months

The management consultancy industry is continuing to become more accessible to those from a diverse range of backgrounds, according to the latest survey from the Management Consultancies Association (MCA). In the MCA’s Annual Member Survey, the number of young consultants who attended a Russell Group university fell from 54% in 2018 to 45% in 2019 – a fall of 9% and a significant decline from the percentage of 73% in 2011.

When it comes to benefits that attract talent to management consultancy, younger consultants tend to be more concerned with salary (34%) reimbursement for overtime (7%) and international travel opportunities (5%). Consultants with more than five years’ experience were also asked the same question – and sociable hours of work (20%) and flexible working (14%) were more important.

Tamzen Isacsson, Chief Executive, MCA, said:

Tens of thousands of young people aspire to get a job with leading consultancy firms every year and this survey shows that the industry is employing less new entrants from traditional university routes than before. The sector is rolling out more apprenticeships schemes than ever and firms are increasingly diversifying their talent pools at the entry level. As our relationship

with Europe and the rest of the world transforms it is vitally important that we continue to ensure that the UK is an attractive destination for our brightest talent to work, develop and thrive in our world class consulting sector. This means ensuring that services are given a high priority by government in the upcoming negotiations.

Compared to their longer-serving colleagues, young consultants are less likely to be proactively seeking a new position. They are however very much open to offers (45%) but are willing to wait for the right position (24%). Overall, while almost two thirds of all respondents see Brexit making little difference to whether they seek work outside the UK, 1 in 4 consultants are now more likely to look for more opportunities outside of the UK because of Brexit.

In terms of job satisfaction overall, the key factors why firms retain talent are the variety of projects and work streams (14%) that consultants were involved with followed by the overall culture of the business (13%) and exposure to a diverse range of clients (12%).

Over 500 consultants from a range of MCA member firms participated in the independent survey, conducted by Savanta, including Managing Directors, Heads of Consulting and Junior management consultants. Despite a year of political and economic uncertainty in the UK, MCA member firms estimate growth for the sector was around 8.3% in 2019, slightly above the 7% growth rate the previous year. Continued expansion in Digital and Technology consulting and work with the Government and Public Sector continue to be the main drivers of growth, which is estimated to be around 6% in the next 12-24 months.

Looking ahead, MCA members continue to show optimism about the industry’s future with 76% expecting consulting activity to increase in the next 12-24 months, albeit a slight decline from the previous year (86%). Sectors expecting to see particularly high growth are Digital and Technology and Government and Public Sector followed by Infrastructure; Health and Life Sciences and Energy and Resources.

Independent market research agency Savanta, partnered with the MCA to collect and analyse member data for the 2020 report.

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Notes to Editors

Media Contact: Caroline Florence ( / Tel: 0207 645 7959)

*Research is based on the results of an online survey of 507 active management consultants from the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) membership, and selected non-members. Survey participants represented firms of all sizes and specialisms; and all levels within their organisation. The online survey was active from 19 November to 6 December 2019

The Management Consultancies Association (MCA):

The MCA is the representative body for the UK’s leading management consulting firms. For over 60 years, the MCA has been the voice of the consulting industry, promoting the value of consulting to business, the public sector, media commentators and the general public. The MCA’s mission is to promote the value of management consultancy for the economy and society as a whole. The MCA’s member companies comprise over 50% of the UK consulting industry work with over 90 of the top FTSE 100 companies and almost all parts of the public sector. The UK consulting industry is amongst the best in the world and a vital part of the business landscape. See the full list of current MCA members.

Compliance with the MCA’s tough entry criteria and adherence to the principles of Consulting Excellence means that MCA member companies are widely acknowledged to provide high quality services to their clients. Many of their achievements are recognised in the annual MCA Awards.


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