The strategy consulting market has certainly been busy in 2014 and it shows no sign of slowing as calendars flick over to 2015. The strategic agenda in large corporations has moved from a unanimously cost-focused approach to one with more emphasis on organic and inorganic growth. We have seen a large demand for Strategy Consultants across all levels and sectors with experience in transactions, growth and strategic planning – the typical ‘blue-sky thinkers’.
Demand for strategy professionals in the last 12 months has been driven by MBB as well as large global consultancies, rather than the mid-sized boutiques. That being said, the niche and sector-orientated boutique firms continue to do well as they provide a refreshing alternative for strategy professionals not enticed by the bigger players.
Large acquisitions over the past year have demonstrated the desire of large accountancy firms to grow their presence in strategy consulting. As financial regulators began to make it more difficult for the Big 4 to grow their large Audit practices, along with an upturn in strategy consulting and large transformation programmes, it was not too surprising to see the likes of Deloitte acquiring Monitor Group, PwC acquiring Booz and EY acquiring The Parthenon Group. KPMG continue to hire high calibre senior individuals in the Strategy Consulting space, but are yet to show their hand when it comes to a large acquisition.
Interestingly, these three acquisitions demonstrate different internal strategies – with Booz representing an acquisition that will deliver longer term strategy and transformation projects, Monitor Group bringing strength both in general ‘corporate strategy’ but more specifically sales and marketing projects and finally, The Parthenon Group which is extremely well regarded in the private equity/CDD space. This may indicate that although the sentiment remains the same; to build a presence in strategy, the accountancy firms are still fishing in slightly different ponds, at least for now.
Ten years ago, it would have been almost unheard of for a Partner from a top-tier strategy house to move to an accountancy firm or a technology-orientated consulting firm. However, it seems that there is a growing number of high calibre Partners becoming increasingly frustrated with their current organisations. A lack of flexibility on internal pricing structures, increasingly top-heavy structures as well as internal saturation have all provided sensible reasons to look elsewhere.
The demand from accountancy firms and technology consultancies for these professionals acts as an alternative that can provide ambition, investment and a global platform. Risk and reward is the key point here – leaving McKinsey for KPMG may not be a move that one would describe as natural, but upon further digging, the opportunity of flexible pricing, existing C-level relationships on a global scale and compared to McKinsey, a relative blank canvass in which to operate – all of a sudden the idea becomes less outrageous.