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MCA Member Survey 2022


Our new member survey identifies the key trends, challenges, and opportunities facing the consulting sector in the UK.


As we start a new year of fresh challenges and ambitions, it’s just as important to find time to look at the experiences of those working in our industry, and to understand some of the key trends and obstacles we may experience in 2022. After a year of significant disruption and yet more Covid-related restrictions, there is much to explore in terms of the impact on our people, our clients and our industry. But the reassuring news is that the outlook for the sector remains very positive.

This report provides a unique insight into the challenges presented by remote working and the impact of recent events on work-life balance across our industry, and it will also seek to understand the attitudes of staff towards industry efforts on diversity and inclusion. One can too easily jump to conclusions about the so called ‘great resignation’ and other, wider trends in society, but this report is grounded in data, produced with members for members, and independently verified by our research partner, Savanta. As you will see, our sector remains resilient and strong, with consultants serving more clients than ever before and forecasts for the future optimistic. One consultant who participated in the research sums it up neatly: “Our continued growth has been driven by trust. The trust that our clients have in consultants to deliver in difficult times in the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Every year the MCA surveys consultants from our member firms to understand some of the current challenges and opportunities in the sector, and the experiences of individuals working in our industry. MCA consultants from all levels in firms have participated in this unique research, from those just starting their careers in consulting to those with decades of experience, heads of consulting and owners of firms. In this report we include a special section focusing on the experiences of newer consultants who are working with our Young MCA group, and we also highlight the key viewpoints and predictions of senior leaders. Small, medium and large member firms contributed to the research, and we are therefore able to provide robust data for industry growth performance for 2021 as well as forecasts for future years.

We hope you enjoy reading this report.


Chief Executive

Survey Overview







"The roll out of hybrid working affects staff retention, changes how consultants make new relationships with clients and impacts whether consultants have enough access to clients to meaningfully deliver high quality and specific."

Manager, Larger firm

Executive Summary

Our membership

The MCA membership represents a wide range of firm sizes, service specialisms and sector expertise.

Just over two-thirds of the membership are classed as ‘large firms’ (>100 full-time consulting staff); a third of the membership is made up of SME firms (<100 full-time consulting staff).

507 consultants from MCA member firms responded to the 2020-21 member survey, representing management consultants from new joiners and Analysts, to Heads of Consulting and practice Managing Directors.

2021: Year in review

The MCA estimates that consulting activity grew by 16% in 2021. This is according to data collected from MCA council representatives, the senior leaders at member firms responsible for submitting firm-wide data on performance.

This is a six-fold increase from the growth rate of 2.5% for 2020, and demonstrates the resilience of the sector and its ability to evolve with changing circumstances.

2022-23: Looking ahead

MCA leaders estimate that consulting activity will grow by around 13% in the next 12 months, showing their continued optimism and the crucial role that firms play in supporting clients through difficult times. This growth is expected to be fuelled in part by increased work in the Digital Consulting, Government and Public Sector, and Energy and Resources sectors.

Twice as many MCA members believe that ‘sustainability priorities’ will grow as a consultancy area in the next 12 months than did this time last year. Over half of members (54%) now put this in their top three most likely growth areas of client demand, second only to ‘digital technology’.

The need to provide remote/flexible working and to compete against other sectors for talent are the challenges expected to have the biggest impact on the sector in the next year. The growing societal demand for more diversity representation within firms is expected to have a significant impact, and has overtaken the wider implication of Brexit as an issue for consultants.

The future of the profession

MCA members told us that a major challenge facing the industry continues to be the need to retain and attract the best talent. To do this, competitive salary remains the best incentive that consulting firms can offer, followed by more sociable hours of work and a better work-life balance.

Training and developing consultants is a key challenge for firms in the pandemic environment. Over half of consultants feel that they received at least as much training compared to before the pandemic (59%). However, a quarter (27%) of consultants feel that they have not received as much training during the pandemic or that the quality has dropped. This is a slight improvement on the previous year, in which a third (36%) reported this.

The Young MCA

Our data shows that the consulting industry continues to be more accessible to young talent from a diverse range of backgrounds. Since we have been measuring it in 2011, the proportion of young consultants who attended a Russell Group university has fallen from 73% to 36%.
Although many young consultants believe their firms are taking active steps to improve diversity and inclusion, a sizeable proportion want to see more results delivered, faster.

For questions or queries regarding the 2022 MCA Member Survey please contact Caroline Florence.
Tel: 020 7645 7959

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