Traditional models are increasingly challenged by the “gig” economy, agile start-ups and clients who do lots of work previously carried out by consultants themselves. In such a dispersed, dynamic context, how can consulting firms attract and retain highly qualified employees?
As part of a knowledge and talent-based industry, professional service organisations are increasingly looking globally to attract the best candidates. However, the “trend of internal SWAT teams of experts assembled so that these companies do not need external consultants”, is making this more challenging. As well as being advantageous for the company, these internal teams also leverage top talent. Likewise, competition from a multitude of start-ups offering stimulating working conditions is forcing consultancy firms to rethink their employer promise.
Some larger professional service organisations are also using mergers and acquisitions to nourish their talent pool. In 2019, Dentsu Aegis launched a new UK marketing agency after merging four of its existing brands. “By bringing together such diverse and dynamic talent we can tackle any challenge for our clients, devising more creative solutions to solve these in an effort to grow their brands and businesses faster”, explains Dentsu X CEO Patrick Affleck.
In the UK, 20% of the annual management consulting spend goes to independent consultants and project-based professional service work is now worth a massive £40 billion a year.
The rise of independent consultants means that talents can now choose a more flexible, and often more lucrative, way of working that enables them to pick and choose their contracts. In the UK, one-fifth of the £ 10 million annual management consulting spend is snapped up by independents. With the help of evermore sophisticated match-making sites, companies can choose from a growing pool of highly-skilled consultants, who are more often flexible and cost-effective, without worrying about long-term contracts.
“For consulting firms to be able to guide their clients effectively, they need to attract the right talent. Beyond financial incentives, this means creating the right culture and interacting with the wider ecosystem in community-based activities. We need to take the time to get to know our people and become a more active, caring employer. Development and nurturing of our employees is at the heart of what we do”, explains Michelle Maden.
Gary Young, RPS Group Finance Director, shares his experience of technology as a tool to build a global brand.
Leading global professional services firm RPS decided to replace multiple systems and processes with a single integrated technology solution. This decision was central to the company’s strategy of investing to accelerate growth by having a single, global, business platform that supports the diverse nature of its business, makes it easier to connect its deep expertise and operate as ‘one RPS’.
Replacing the different systems resulting from multiple acquisitions, the upgraded and modernised cloud-based digital infrastructure will provide one platform and standardise processes for all users in six continents to seamlessly connect 5,600 professionals working across 125 countries.
“Data, efficient processes, business systems and new technologies will play a critical role in our continuing success. The future for RPS is about being at the forefront of changing market trends, identifying growth opportunities and delivering complex solutions in a way that is easy to understand and implement. This investment in a new global enterprise resource planning platform will give us a stronger competitive edge in all the markets that we operate in”, explains Gary.
 LexisNexis Trend Report 2019 Patty Wood, Senior Editor of the InfoDesk Consulting Industry Blog, LexisNexis Trend Report 2019
 UK: Dentsu Aegis launches new marketing agency after mega-merger, blog by Competition Policy International https://www.competitionpolicyinternational.com/uk-dentsu-aegislaunches-new-marketing-agency-after-mega-merger/
 One fifth of UK management consulting work goes to independent consultants - Consultancy.uk https://www.consultancy.uk/news/16722/one-fifth-of-ukmanagement-consulting-work-goes-to-independent-consultants