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The UK Consulting Industry

Management consulting is the practice of creating value for organisations, through improved performance, achieved by providing objective advice and implementing business solutions. Members of the Management Consultancies Association help public and private sector organisations to become more effective and more efficient by improving how they operate, accelerating growth, reducing costs and changing the way they do their business.

They do this by solving problems, providing outside perspective, and enhancing business capability. They provide up to date and innovatory thinking and experience from all economic sectors, combined with experience from other economic sectors. Management consultants bring niche skills and a breadth of experience into organisations, which is often useful for specific projects but not for an organisation to employ full time. Many draw on deep technical expertise (for instance in digital technology) combined with sophisticated understanding of business and organisational dynamics. They will transfer knowledge and skill into a client organisation leaving it better equipped to respond to future challenges.


The origins of the consulting industry can be traced back to the start of the 20th Century, to the ideas of scientific management and to regulatory change in the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash. In the UK, the consulting industry began to grow quickly in the 1950s, fuelled by the arrival of US consulting firms, waves of new technology and management techniques, and increasing demand from clients for highly specialised skills.


Today’s UK consulting industry is worth around £18.6 billion and contributes significantly to the UK economy. The sector is a highly skilled international workforce which is not currently replicated anywhere else in the world. The UK’s infrastructure cluster effect allows international businesses to have access to world class professional services in one place.

The industry spans a wide array of firms, some of which only undertake ‘pure’ management consulting work, some of which are part of larger firms that also undertake IT systems development, outsourcing, and other activities.

MCA represents the diversity of consulting industry sector with over 90 firms both large and small. We are extremely proud of the consulting work our members provide to both the public and private sector. Through our Consulting Excellence principles, which our members sign up to – members commit themselves to high standards in terms of ethical behaviour, clients service and value and professional development. They provide excellent consulting services which deliver the outcomes clients seek and need and they always strive to improve the value we can deliver to clients

Management consulting firms provide a broad range of services, from help in defining strategies to implementing large-scale IT and change programmes, and from coaching individuals and teams to providing expert advice in specialised fields. Our members firms in the MCA are known for their commitment to achieving results and they combine strategy, technology and management consulting expertise to help organisations succeed.

Digital consulting and AI is a large part of work in today’s sector with consultants required to work on vast amounts of data and analytics work and introduce new technologies into firms and organisations. Technological development is disrupting many business models and firms are also having to respond to new regulations and consultants are playing a major role in helping solve these problems for clients.

The UK is facing a period of social, political and technological change and this disruption means organisations are having to adapt and transform more quickly than ever before. Consulting is on the front line of these developments helping clients face challenges and maximise opportunities.


As clients look for integrated solutions to their management and IT requirements, many consultancy firms are entering into alliances with software suppliers, telecoms or communications firms in order to provide a broader range of services and extend their global reach. There are also new commercial models with consultants sharing more risk with clients and their fees linked directly to outcomes and value.

Consultancy firms that have historically competed are now working together on client projects and there will be continuing convergence within and outside the industry as firms co-operate and merge in order to better serve their clients.