Ireland’s ten largest consulting firms with an accounting heritage generated more than €2 billion in fees last year, with the Big Four giants making up 86% of all fees.

With revenues of over €550 million, on an all-Ireland basis. PwC is Ireland’s largest professional services group that has its roots in the world of accounting. However, today, PwC generates around two thirds of its business outside of its traditional audit division, in services areas including tax advice, mergers & acquisitions, restructuring, management consulting and digital transformation.

The number two in Ireland’s accountancy and consultancy market is KPMG, followed by Deloitte and EY. Combined, the so-called Big Four earn nearly €1.8 billion in fee income, generated by a workforce of nearly 15,000 accountants, advisors, consultants and digital specialists. All four of the quartet are privately-held, owned by a group of partners that distribute the firm’s ownership and profits.

A new research estimates that around one in five independent consultants and contractors fear having to stop their business amid the fallout of demand caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

The study, conducted by the University of Edinburgh Business School in association and the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), is based on a survey of over 1,400 highly skilled freelancers in the UK, including 350 independent consultants and contractors.

The researchers found not surprisingly that around three quarters of independent consultants and contractors had lost income in the past months, having seen projects cancelled and new projects delayed.

Consulting firms live and die by their people; ultimately in consulting, clients pay for talented people, ahead of other factors such as a brand and proprietary methodologies. So how can consultancies attract the best talent, and at the other side of the equation ensure that their best people stay on board?

Just as consulting firms might market and pitch to a client, designing and promoting propositions for their clients’ needs, consultancies also have to market and pitch to candidates. “Marketing obviously is a major factor in talent acquisition,” says Richard Longstreet, who runs the Consulting recruitment practice at 3Search, a firm that works for many leading consultancies.

It starts with an attractive website and a careers section, reinforced by a social media presence. There are several ways of using this online presence to make a consultancy a more attractive employer, three of which stand out, says Longstreet.

The UK’s economic performance had been flagging long before the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic. Pressures resulting from Brexit and stagnant wages had already seen GDP growth stifled to between just 0.2% and 0.3% on average during 2019 – something which saw a number of high profile sectors such as retail, dining and travel record a sharp spike in liquidity issues. In turn, this saw many clients of Britain’s consulting industry scale back their advisory spending, something which led to the UK’s management consulting market seeing its slowest growth in seven years.

Now, thanks to the additional pressures inflicted by the global coronavirus lock-down, research firm Statista’s latest estimates the UK’s economy is set to hit negative growth for the duration of this year. Due to this forecast recession, a recent study from Source Global Research suggested that the consulting sector is set to see a stagnant 2019 turn into a potentially disastrous 2020, with revenues possibly falling from £8.6 billion to as little as £6.1 billion in the current 12-month period.

With clients of the consulting industry currently looking to obtain better value for money regarding their advisory contracts, independent consulting could offer a vital alternative to tapping expertise from major firms. Consulthon co-founder Marieta Bencheva spoke to about the role freelancers can play helping companies amid the coronavirus lock-down.

Consulting is renowned as one of the most travelled facets of modern business – with some professionals in the trade spending as much as 80% of their working lives away from home. Experts from top firms often jet across the globe to assist clients with a variety of advisory matters, leading to consultants losing a significant amount of work amid the current Covid-19 lock-down. One way consultants are continuing to pick up contracts is via digital marketplaces.

Consulthon, an online marketplace for management consultants, is well-placed to help clients and consultants in these challenging times. The firm was founded in 2018 by Marieta Bencheva and Mirel Baila – who have over 20 years combined experience in operational, agile and lean consulting.

In today’s rapidly evolving landscape and always-connected world, companies that really want to stay ahead of the game need a winning digital customer experience strategy. Philip Grant, formerly a Director at Arthur D. Little and author of the business book ‘In Demand, In Command’, explains how this can be done.

Organisations could be much smarter at understanding their individual customers and deliver greater excellence at delighting them, whilst operating at lower costs to the business. Despite the proliferation of online digital media and transactional self-services now available to the general public, customer-facing businesses simply do not achieve optimal business potential.

Robotic Process Automation, an increasingly popular technology, can reduce costs and boost productivity, accuracy, data analysis and decision-making. The Centre for Management Consulting Excellence recently ran an evening symposium focused on how robotics can help consultants improve their impact at clients.

The Centre for Management Consulting Excellence was founded in 2017 by the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants, a modern livery company based in the City of London in the UK. The Centre aims to identify and share the most important new ideas for management consultants, developing their performance to the benefit of their clients and the economy in general.

Digital transformation remains one of the top priorities for businesses in 2020. But for many organisations, getting the right people in place to oversee and manage this change is easier said than done. Richard Grove, director at Caution Your Blast, shares five steps that can help kickstart a very strong team to achieve digital targets.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an innovative technology increasingly used to fully automate human steps in business processes. It is the automation of manual repetitive tasks using low code software such as UiPath, that can work across a variety of different applications and replicate complex or simple business processes.

RPA can be used to automate a complete end-to-end process, or can be used to aid and improve processes that still require some human interaction. At First Consulting, we are seeing that the view of robotic process automation (RPA) in the workplace is gradually moving away from the replacement of jobs and towards supporting employees to complete their daily manual tasks.

As businesses are becoming much more transparent with the ways in which automation is being used as part of the digital transformation journey, we believe that the next step is to ensure your current workforce are on board with this potentially daunting concept of working with robots.

2019 saw continued pressure on the traditional UK banks. Margins remained squeezed through rates staying lower for longer; regulatory pressure continued; the ‘tail’ of PPI proved extremely painful; political and economic uncertainty around Brexit prevailed; the investment required for digital-led transformation remained high and the continued competitive pressure from new challengers, all made for a difficult operating environment. Whilst some of these factors will ease in 2020, don’t expect the situation to get too much rosier for the larger incumbents any time soon.

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