My Opinion: Trends in management consultancy – Richard Stewart, Mindbench

At Mindbench we advise consulting firms on their talent agenda, and consulting candidates on their career aspirations. We have a privileged position from which to witness trends in the consulting market place. Here we briefly examine two trends developing over recent years – the emergence and growth of smaller consulting firms, and the growth of the larger consulting firms, fuelled by data-analytics related services.

Specialist smaller consulting firms emerge and grow

At the time when we started Mindbench in 2003, there was significant disruption in the consulting market. A brief down-turn followed the internet crash and the end of the work associated with Y2K. The loss of direction was compounded by the separation of KPMG, E&Y and PwC’s consulting business. Several senior consulting professionals decided to leave their firms launch their own consulting practices focussed on a specific sector or functional area. Many of these smaller consulting firms honed their specific propositions and built a solid client base in the years prior to 2007, then survived the recession, and have gone on to become thriving mid-size consulting firms. Other smaller firms which utilise a particular data driven application have also emerged over recent years.

The appeal of these smaller firms to candidates can come through the potential for accelerated career progression, more specialised work, and (sometimes) through lower travel requirements. One of the smaller consulting firms we work with has a specific focus around helping local authorities with the procurement of health services. High calibre consultants are particularly attracted to the firm by the opportunity to make a hands-on difference in social welfare provision, and by the conscious choice of the Directors of the firm to only work on London centric projects.

Consolidation of the consulting market place by the “Big 4” and the growth of “business intelligence” consulting services

Since 2010, the pace of consolidation occurring amongst the largest consulting firms has accelerated dramatically. The “Big 4” in particular have seen consulting as the major growth driver for their firms over traditional audit or tax services, and have developed internal processes within the partnerships in order to enable premium offers to buy consulting assets. Rather than purely extending numbers of consulting professionals, many of the consulting acquisitions have helped firms expand their capability into rapidly developing areas such as procurement & supply chain, business intelligence, and mobile applications.

The growth of services around business intelligence has been driven by the explosion in the volume of customer and corporate information, produced through increased use of internet and mobile based applications, together with advances in technology which allow the collection and analysis of complex data. Consulting services include data storage and security, data integration, software application development, data mining and decision support. Business intelligence is being used to underpin customer management, marketing, finance, sourcing, and risk offerings.

One of our specialist clients is using diverse data sets and data analytics to help a major high street bank with liability provisioning. In marketing, one client uses data analytics to help a major auto manufacturer understand resale market better through data collection at the forecourts. Another Mindbench client provides advice to the retail sector – using transmissions from mobile phone signals they are able to track people moving around stores, and so help store and mall owners decide on store and product positioning.

The skill sets required are varied depending on the focus and include modelling, synthesis, programming (in a range of languages), data architecture, marketing, branding, and procurement. Mindbench is working with the “Big 4”, major strategy consultancies, and specialist consulting boutiques, helping them to acquire to high calibre talent for their data analytics services successfully.

Mindbench is the leading recruitment firm for the management consultancy sector, providing specialist search, contingent and interim contractor solutions for MCA member firms. If you would like to discuss your particular challenges or hiring needs with Mindbench please contact the Managing Director, Richard Stewart.