TODAY’s shortlists for the third annual City A.M. awards kick off with our nominations for professional services firm of the year. The UK and EU may be planning significant shake-ups to the industry, but the firms on our shortlist aren’t letting that worry them, continuing to win bluechip clients, pursue global expansion and pioneer employment schemes while they wait.
Their broad offering of services means that professional services firms have weathered the financial crisis better than some, as evidenced by the roster of insolvency and restructuring mandates that our nominees have won in the past year.
When not auditing the FTSE 100 and advising on some of the year’s biggest M&A deals, the firms on our shortlist are fielding teams to deal with the fallout from some of the UK’s (and the world’s) biggest collapses – MF Global, Farepak, Dewey & LeBoeuf, the Coryton refinery and, of course, Lehman Brothers. And it’s not just the Big Four. McKinsey wins its spot on the list for its sterling research and consultancy work.
They may be facing a slew of changes, but professional services firms aren’t sitting around waiting – instead they’re hiring partners, growing revenues and looking to overseas markets when UK opportunities dry up.
The big four firms may still be dominant, but that doesn’t mean there’s not fierce competition among them for clients. This year, Deloitte fared particularly well in the race for new mandates, winning key clients International Power, Alliance Trust and Mitchell & Butlers from its rivals. But for Deloitte this year will be defined by one event – the London 2012 Games. Signed up as a lead partner in 2003, the firm has estimated it has contributed more than 750,000 hours of work to help plan the 29 days of events that are dominating the summer.
Regularly ranked as one of the best workplaces and the UK’s largest graduate recruiter, PwC upped its employee-friendly credentials even more earlier this year when it launched its pioneering apprenticeship as part of the government’s £25m initiative – offering applicants the opportunity to work while studying for a qualification equivalent to degree level. The firm has also grown global revenues by 10 per cent last year, topping the table with a turnover of $29.2bn.
Ernst & Young
The traditional pursuits of assurance and advisory were the big hitters for EY this year, as the firm boosted revenues by eight per cent after strong performances in each of the practice areas. The firm helped find a buyer for Battersea Power Station in June, and over the past year has acted as administrator for night club operator Luminar, retailer TJ Hughes and real estate business DTZ. The ITEM Club, which is sponsored by EY, remains at the forefront of independent economic analysis.
Just being European administrator to MF Global – the commodities brokerage that went bust last November leaving approximately $1.6bn of losses – would have been enough to keep KPMG busy this year. But when WorldSpreads collapsed in March the firm was also brought in to clear up the mess left by the spread betting group. It also saw a dramatic increase in growth in its emerging markets practices – particularly Brazil and India – and saw returns on its investment in China starting to seep through, helping overall revenues rise by more than 10 per cent.
McKinsey & Co
The management consulting firm’s global insight has seen it produce some of the most informative and relevant research available in the past year through its McKinsey Global Institute – from the impact of EU regulation on retail banking profits to the amount that social media could add to the global economy. Regularly named as a top place to work for both graduates and female employees, it’s easy to see why the firm attracts candidates. Consider the roll call of company chief executives it counts among its alumni – including Vodafone’s Vittorio Colao and Marius Kloppers, boss of BHP Billiton.