Consultants see work pick up, but not image

THEY are reluctant to admit it. But management consultants are on a roll. Not only has total fee income for the largest firms passed £1bn for the first time but the number of consultants has returned to the levels seen before the recession.

Brian O'Rorke, executive director of the Management Consultancies Association, announced these figures last week. But despite the improvement, he said last year had not been easy. Although revenue from manufacturing rose by more than 6 per cent, there was no growth from the minimal income levels in construction.

However, information technology and the public sector are still proving strong sources of revenue. More than half of association members' income now comes from IT - as a result of nearly all consultancy assignments having a significant technology element. Meanwhile, the value of work from the public sector grew by £44m to £253m to account for nearly a third of total UK fee income.

Moreover, British consultants are starting to find overseas markets fruitful. Income from the Americas and the Far East, in particular, more than doubled over 1994. In the former, this was because US companies are increasingly using Britain as a toehold for setting up in the European Union and in the latter because of the strength of the so-called emerging economies in that region. Revenue from the European mainland is also continuing to increase, partly as a result of the union's Phare and Tacis projects designed to help countries of the former Eastern bloc and former Soviet Union.

This growth does not suggest huge opportunities for individuals. While the rise in the number of consultants by 500 (to more than 7,200) marks a return to pre-recession times, Mr O'Rorke noted that the sector has become "extremely competitive, with the number of business advisers now as great as it will ever be".

He is also worried that the spread of "sole practitioner" consultants (often redundant managers) will force a cap on fee rates. This could reduce the ability of established firms to invest in research, development and training.

The organisation also acknowledges another problem with this trend - the somewhat poor public image of consultants, exacerbated by reports such as last year's investigation of their use by government.

Brian Small, the managing director of Ingersoll Engineers and this year's president of the association, believes the problem is at least partly a result of the profession's youth. "We've tended to think that as long as you satisfy the client you have done your job."

To convince the world of the consultant's important role in improving industrial competitiveness, the profession needs to persuade some of the 90 per cent of clients who are apparently generally happy with firms' work to talk about it, he says.

Since there is also a need to build a greater understanding of how potential clients can be assisted, the association is hosting a one-day conference in May under the theme "no room for complacency".

PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count
voicesIs it any wonder that Thornberry, Miliband, and Cameron have no idea about ordinary everyday life?
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
Life and Style
Nappies could have advice on them to encourage mothers and fathers to talk to their babies more often
newsTalking to babies can improve their language and vocabulary skills
Sport
Tony Bellew holds two inflatable plastic sheep at the weigh-in for his rematch with Nathan Cleverly
boxingGrudge match takes place on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson at PS1
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Reach Volunteering: Trustee – PR& Marketing, Social Care, Commercial skills

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...

Reach Volunteering: Charity Treasurer

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Crossroads Care is s...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000: SThree: We consistently strive to be ...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines