Business services firm of the year

In an uncertain economy, companies that are willing to try something different – be that a new management team, an innovative business structure or a better use of technology – are the ones that tend to succeed. This category’s nominees live up to the best of these business services.

Some of the biggest jobs in finance and the public sector are being done by candidates picked out by Odgers Berndtson. The headhunter placed Charlotte Hogg as the new chief operating officer for the Bank of England this summer, and is sizing up potential directors for the government’s new Business Bank. Other mandates on its books include the chairmanship of Ofcom and commissioners for the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

This City headhunter has worked with 35 of the FTSE 100 to find board-level staff, including 16 current chief executives. The firm employs just 25 people but has some of the biggest jobs in banking to fill, including leading the search for Stephen Hester’s replacement at Royal Bank of Scotland. Anna Mann founded MWM Consulting in 2004 after leaving Whitehead Mann, and has taken less than a decade to build the company into a global executive search powerhouse.

This management consultancy giant helps some of the biggest companies in the world do better business. Founded in 1926, McKinsey & Company serves two-thirds of the Fortune 1000 and has a well-established London office. The firm’s research on everything from the future of cities to the new rules facing the financial sector is highly regarded, and its former staff can be found in the highest roles in business. Distinguished alumni include Vodafone boss Vittorio Colao, Standard Chartered chief executive Peter Sands and ex-HSBC chairman Lord Green.

Accenture works with firms to make new technology work for them. From online hotel check-in systems to mobile systems in agriculture supply chains, Accenture has 266,000 staff working with a broad range of companies in more than 120 countries. The firm has made seven acquisitions of its own in the last year including London-based service design consultancy Fjord. Reports that Accenture was in talks to take over rival Booz over the summer sent the latter’s shares soaring.

Zolfo Cooper has featured prominently in the battle for Britain’s high streets, acting as administrator to a string of high street names in recent years including Clinton Cards, Habitat and Nicole Farhi. As well as retail and insolvencies, Zolfo Cooper works on corporate finance and pensions advice. Chief executive Simon Freakley has led the group since it was spun out of US giant Kroll in 2008. The firm almost doubled its revenues and profits in the year to March 2012, according to its most recent accounts.