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Inside Business: Consultants put their charges on the line

MANAGEMENT consultants are not exactly everyone's favourite people, writes Roger Trapp. Even organisations that make extensive use of their services reserve the right to criticise and question their bills.

Nobody realises this better than Rick Peel, who has just launched his second consulting firm. After starting out with Bain & Co, he left in the 1980s to set up Coba, which he sold several years later to Renaissance Worldwide.

Now, with Renaissance indicating that its priorities lie in information technology, he has - by mutual consent - taken a team off to form Credo Consulting. "I saw opportunities around strategy that were not being exploited," he says.

Mr Peel sees particular potential in businesses that are either true start-ups or are moving into fresh areas. And, conscious that many would- be clients won't have the cash to meet his firm's fees, he points to Credo's willingness to link payment to the success of the client. "The opportunity we saw was to take a much more entrepreneurial approach to consulting," he says, adding that the Credo tagline "consulting for success" means the firm will put some of its fees on the line.

Mr Peel claims that in all the cynicism about fees, the issue is not so much the amount as whether the consultant has delivered on the promise. "The great thing about 'consulting for success' is that it allows you to have transparency."

In the three months Credo has been in existence, that approach has struck a chord with businesses as varied as small internet-based firms and large financial institutions.

While he suggests that Credo can create an empathy with clients through being young itself, he also points out that starting out with 45 people who have worked together as a team makes it different from the average fledgling consultancy. It also has offices in Munich and New York as well as London, and a network of experienced advisers.

But Mr Peel stresses that the real power of Credo lies in getting back to the basics of consulting: "The outsider can still challenge, and still has a role to play."