Consulting picks up after record slump

MANAGEMENT consultancy work is already showing signs of picking up in the UK following the recession, a welcome respite for the £8bn industry after battling through its toughest year ever in 2009.

Financial services, traditionally the most lucrative market for consultants, saw demand drop by 12 per cent during 2009, according to a report published yesterday by the Management Consultancies Association (MCA). That was twice the slump in demand from the sector in 2008, and compared to a 6 per cent overall decline in consulting revenues.

But the MCA said anecdotal evidence suggested that the recovery began to bite last autumn, with financial services companies in particular commissioning a larger number of longer-term consulting projects.

MCA president Pat Newberry, a partner at accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: “Recessions accelerate change and stimulate higher levels of performance. If Britain has got through this period with lower unemployment than many feared, to a significant extent this was due to the efforts of thousands of management consultants who enabled their clients to cut costs, save jobs and weather the storm.”

The organisation also said its member companies significantly improved their own productivity during the downturn, with the average consultant 7 per cent more productive at the end of 2009 than 12 months earlier.