Insiders project superb growth outlook for US consultancy sector

12 September 2017

Bullish confidence is the new normal among C-Suite executives in the US consulting market. Overwhelming majorities of thought leaders are projecting strong revenue and profit growth for 2017.

Confidence in the US consulting industry is robust and near unanimous among thought leaders and decision makers. ALM’s 2017 Executive Outlook report surveyed more than 100 senior consultants, finding that an overwhelming majority had faith that the year will conclude on a wave of strong industry growth.

Their optimism is not unfounded. In 2016 the US consulting industry, by far the largest and most mature in the word, registered annual growth of 7.1%, reaching a value of $58.72 billion. This was not an anomaly but came on the back of five years of impressive growth figures.

ALM reported that two thirds of industry leaders expect 2017 growth to outpace last year’s and surpass the 10% mark. Consulting industry clients are falling over themselves to get one step ahead of digital transformation trends. Industry insiders are supremely confident that this demand will translate into higher revenue and profits in the short term.

Size of the US consulting industry

Interviews conducted with consulting firm executives at the tail end of 2016 found that 91% were projecting their company’s revenue to grow by more than 5% in 2017. A rare 98% majority expected the US consulting economy to register at least some growth.

Talking profits

In last year’s Executive Summary, eight in ten consulting firm leaders predicted a rise in their net profits. For 2017 that figure soared to 96%. A healthy majority of 57% expect that consulting industry growth this year will see their firms enjoy an increase in net profits that exceeds 10%.  

Optimism among leaders that their consultancy will record higher profits in 2017 is clearly high. But it falls slightly short of the titanic confidence expressed in the future success of the US consultancy sector as a whole.

The confidence gap between industry revenue and company profit growth can be explained by several factors. One lingering hangover of the recession years is a pressure to reduce client fees. As the consulting industry diversifies and smaller specialists emerge alongside agile and ambitious new entrants, boasting their own disruptive and innovative technologies and strategies, clients expect better value for money and will look around for the best deal.

Expectations for US consulting market growth-profit

Helping them are companies such as Talmix and blur, which colonize the emerging match-making niche, setting up clients with consultancies through efficient and tailored attention to their needs. Now tasting their own medicine, top consultancy firms are realizing that they can no longer assume client loyalty merely on the strength of their reputation.

These internal market dynamics were ranked among the top concerns felt by respondents to the ALM survey. Keeping consultancy thought leaders awake at night were issues of profitability, client retention and new client business, ALM found. Potential external hiccups in geopolitics and broader sales cycles will be fretted about another day.

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Numerous consulting firms receive top marks for corporate equality

04 April 2019

A large number of consulting firms received perfect 100-point scores in the Human Rights Campaign’s 2019 Corporate Equality Index, which measures the best workplaces for LGBTQ equality.

The Corporate Equality Index (CEI) is a benchmarking survey that evaluates LGBTQ corporate policies and practices including non-discrimination protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBTQ community. Launched in 2002, the benchmarking report has grown from 319 to 1028 participating companies (with 500 or more employees).

Participating firms fill out the CEI survey, with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation investigating and cross-checking policies and practices and deducting points if case law or news accounts uncover discrimination at a firm. The HRC is America’s largest civil rights organization working for LGBTQ equality.

Companies are scored across the categories of workforce protection (30 points), inclusive benefits (30 points), and supporting an inclusive culture and corporate social responsibility (40 points), with 10 points for internal training and education best practices, 10 points for an LGBTQ employee group or diversity council, 15 points for three distinct efforts of outreach or engagement with the LGBTQ community, and 5 points for supplier non-discrimination standards and philanthropic giving guidelines.

Numerous consulting firms receive top marks for corporate equality

Among the companies that achieved a 100-point score were a plethora of consultancies, including A.T. Kearney, Accenture, AlixPartners, Aon, Bain & Company, Booz Allen Hamilton, Boston Consulting Group, Capgemini America, CBRE, Deloitte, EY, Korn Ferry, KPMG, Marsh & McLennan Companies, McKinsey & Company, Navigant Consulting, PwC, Publicis Sapient, Robert Half, RSM US, Willis Towers Watson, and ZS.

We are delighted once again to be recognized as a best place to work for LGBTQ+ equality. This designation represents our commitment to our people, enables us to continue to attract the best talent, and in turn makes us a better partner for our clients," Simon Freakley, AlixPartners CEO, said. 

Bain & Company earned a perfect score for the 13th year in a row. "Diversity is key to our mission of building extraordinary teams that deliver unparalleled results for our firm and our clients, and we remain committed to attracting and developing a team that both represents and fully embraces this diversity," Russ Hagey, the firm's chief talent officer, said.

Bain has rapidly expanded its LGBTQ alliance network BGLAD, with global membership growing by more than 36% last year.

“We are strong advocates for the LGBTQ community and we’re happy our policies and benefits package reflect the needs of our diverse firm," Brian Bloom, vice president of Korn Ferry's global benefits, said

Consulting firm ZS participated in the CEI survey for the first time, also earning a 100-point score. The firm attributed its strong showing, in part, to its Pride@ZS network which promotes diversity and inclusion though education, social events, and community outreach.

"What I'm most proud of is that this award reflects the way we've been doing business and treating people for years," Natalie Hanson, ZS principal and Pride@ZS leader, said. "Achieving 100% did not require us to make any substantive changes to our policies or practices."

Once a homogeneous “old boys club,” management consultancies have been hard at work in recent years to become more diverse and inclusive organizations. Outside of any moral or regulatory imperative, diversity initiatives allow the firms to attract and retain the widest and best pool of talent, while reaping the productivity and effectiveness bonuses that diverse teams bring to the corporate table.

"The top-scoring companies on this year's CEI are not only establishing policies that affirm and include employees here in the United States, they are applying these policies to their global operations and impacting millions of people beyond our shores," Chad Griffin, HRC president, said. "Time and again, leading American businesses have shown that protecting their employees and customers from discrimination isn't just the right thing to do – it's also good for business."