Chris Saull from recruitment specialists Marks Sattin comments on improved prospects for the consulting industry and especially for boutique firms.
I think it’s fair to say that the consulting world has found the market tough over the course of the last couple of years. However, 2013 has brought with it a renewed sense of optimism and hope. Businesses suddenly have the budget for making positive change and improvement to the way they work and that means a much healthier pipeline for consulting firms, large and small.
The market’s current hot areas seem to be change management, project management and risk consulting. The usual players in the consulting market, like the Big 4, are leading the way when it comes to recruitment into these areas but it’s actually the smaller, more boutique or niche consulting firms that are making waves and attempting to topple the big boys off their perch. They are hiring excellent senior people with excellent relationships and the much sought after black book, complimented by well trained consultants that are closer to the beginning of their careers.
It seems as though they are taking chunks of market share away from the established players in industries such as oil and gas, FS, retail and TMT and show no sign of stopping. They approach new hires with the promise of a better work/life balance, faster and more transparent progression, greater exposure to the client and in some cases better packages. As of yet they seem to be holding up their part of the deal.
With the rise of the boutique we are also seeing a rise in the acquisition of the boutique. It seems that the big players in both the strategy and generalist space are more frequently seeing the smaller firms as a thorn in their side and a potential threat. There have been a number of niche consulting firms acquired by the more established companies in recent months and I am sure that this will continue into 2014. The question is... who will be next?