The last 12 months saw the UK’s consulting industry to sustained disruption – with mounting public scrutiny, digitalisation and Brexit pressures exacerbated by a global pandemic. As a result, Consultancy.uk’s most popular articles published in 2020 were dominated by the challenges and opportunities presented by Covid-19 to the British advisory market.

By the reckoning of Source Global Research earlier in the year, the planet’s consulting scene was worth a combined $160 billion, but with the coronavirus having pushed many sluggish economies into the deepest recession since the Second World War, clients delayed projects, decreasing their scope or cancelling them all together. The researchers went on to predict that by the close of play in 2020, the consulting industry would subsequently be 18% smaller than at the start of the year.


When the pandemic hit, Movemeon launched  ‘’Consultants Against Covid-19.’ Over just a few months, the scheme has seen more than 60 consultants placed pro bono at over 30 organisations, saving an estimated £1 million in consulting fees.

The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic has seen organisations in every sector and industry suffer a period of deep economic and social crisis. In order to help organisations impacted by the situation, at the beginning of the pandemic, Movemeon launched Consultants Against Covid-19, a pool of consultants ready to volunteer their services. Launched by Jack Fitch and Clare Tsangari, in just days, close to 300 consultants and professionals had volunteered their expertise and joined the pool.


Professionals from Coeus Consulting have helped a client in the banking sector find a digital partner, who will help modernise the bank’s core platform to adapt for the challenger bank market. In order to facilitate this, the consultancy helped draw up a rigorous contract for the partnership, as well as ensuring a competitive selection process to ensure value for money.

Throughout the banking new challenger banks and FinTechs are attacking business models, with newcomers rapidly making inroads into the sector’s profits by offering agile, digitalised alternatives. In retail banking, the disruption of challenger banks is visible across the value chain, from customer contact and lending to mortgages, payments and alternative financing. At the same time, the likes of Monzo, Starling and TSB have all launched a marketplace banking offering. In response to this, many traditional banks have looked to protect their market share by collaborating with digitally savvy startups, rather than fighting them.


In the latest in a succession of headlines related to Government spending on outsourcers, it has been revealed that consultants have racked up a £175 million bill for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic. The huge increase since August has seen UK Parliament announce a probe into its heightened use of management consultants amid the crisis.

Despite a recent edition of the respected Global Health Security Index predicting at the turn of the year that the UK was one of the best-positioned nations in the world to handle a pandemic, Government mismanagement of the situation quickly saw Britain spiral into crisis, amid the 2020 Covid-19 outbreak.

After a decade of austerity, the National Health Service had been left under-resourced and under-staffed, and hospitals quickly reached bursting point.

As a result of its thin-spread Civil Service, the UK Government resorted to massive outsourcing of its work, tapping consultants from many of the world’s largest professional services firms. In August 2020, publicly available data collated by The Guardian and online journalism platform openDemocracy revealed that Whitehall had doled out contracts worth a total of £56 million to help with the national response to the first wave of Covid-19.


While M&A in consulting has taken a hit from the Covid-19-induced downturn, a new report from Boxington Corporate Finance says that deal making activity has recovered over the past months, as the sector emerges as a counter-intuitive beneficiary of the global pandemic.

As Covid-19 arrived, valuations across the consulting sector were particularly hard hit, with investors expecting the sector to be exposed to the pandemic given the service-based nature of consulting work and its reliance on onsite meetings and delivery.

Despite the fears, the sector has proven resilient and its valuations are now well on the road to recovery, with average quoted company share valuations increasing by circa 31% in the past six months to 30th September 2020, and in some cases even surpassing pre-Covid valuations. To come to its finding, Boxington Corporate Finance analysed a cross-section of 20 global listed consulting firms, including Accenture, Booz Allen Hamilton, Capgemini, FTI Consulting, Wavestone and Wipro.


The coronavirus lockdown placed the digital capacity of organisations of all shapes and sizes under a sudden stress test, particularly in sectors such as higher education, where face-to-face contact has always been a prized asset. Coeus Consulting has helped a prestigious London university to up its digital game, in response to the challenges it was presented by social distancing measures in Britain.

Amid the unfolding crisis, Coeus Consulting took up work to help the higher education sector address the massive pressure it came under to accelerate its digital transformation journey. In the otherwise traditional sector, where value has often been placed on face-to-face tuition, social distancing means that higher education has undergone a crash-course in adapting to new methods of value delivery, maintaining its primary clientele while serving its wider role in society.

Coeus Consulting’s work in the sector saw one client ask for help embracing fundamental digital changes, in order to help maintain its leadership position among the world’s elite universities, despite the disruption of the coronavirus.

The London based university’s digital strategy was a document that was created within the central IT function, and had little to no impact on how the various directorates envisioned their digital future and almost no traceability to the wider university strategy. As a result, while siloed initiatives were flourishing, staff, student and researcher survey results were worsening year-on-year regarding digital services.


A group of 12 leading investment consultancies in the UK have banded together to help bolder sustainability practices across the industry. Aon, Barnett Waddingham, Cambridge Associates, Cardano, Hymans Robertson, ISIO, LCP, Mercer, MJ Hudson Allenbridge, Redington, SEI and Willis Towers Watson will collaborate as ESG goals in investment shoot up the agenda of investment professionals.

Over the last decade, environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks have swiftly risen to the top of the investment community’s agenda. One survey from EY previously found that 92% of investors agree that over the long-term, ESG issues such as climate change and executive diversity have quantifiable impacts on businesses. Factoring this into a business plan is proving easier said than done, however, with one example of this being that fewer than one-in-10 pension funds having developed a dedicated resource focused on responsible investment.


The UK Government has once again come under fire for its spending on private consulting contractors, after it emerged the industry had received contracts worth £56 million to help with the national response to the coronavirus. Deloitte, Cambridge Consultants and PwC took the three largest fees, pocketing some £23 million between them.

Despite a recent edition of the respected Global Health Security Index predicting at the turn of the year that the UK was one of the best-positioned nations in the world to handle a pandemic, Government mismanagement of the situation quickly saw Britain spiral into crisis, amid the 2020 Covid-19 outbreak. After a decade of austerity, the National Health Service had been left under-resourced and under-staffed, and hospitals quickly reached bursting point.


Northamptonshire County Council has become the latest local authority to court controversy by issuing a lucrative contract to a private consulting firm, following stringent budget cuts. Earlier in July, the council handed £1.4 million to a team of consultants to draw up a procurement contract for an outsourcer to take on the maintenance of the county’s highways.

In the summer of 2018, Northamptonshire County Council’s Conservative-led administration voted in favour of a massive programme of spending cuts, resulting in widespread job losses, and the crippling of many public services. The government had already sent in commissioners to oversee the cash-strapped council Northamptonshire that spring, after the authority revealed a projected overspend of £21 million for 2017-18 – however, the council was forced to issue a second spending control order to stave off a projected budget shortfall of £60 million-£70 million the next financial year.

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