The last few years should have been a sticky time for consultancy companies. There were a lot of mergers, separations and acquisitions. The global financial bubble had truly burst. Coupled with a general downturn in the economy, expectations were that professional services would be hard hit, and in some areas such as Tax and Legal this was true.
However, with revenues still rising, very few organisations let the quality employees go. We are seeing a huge number of project managers and more technical staff becoming suddenly available, particularly out of Financial Services, and it may be a buyer’s market for some practice areas, but beware of what you are buying. It is our opinion that the vast majority of the good people are still gainfully employed, even if they have found themselves shifted around practices a little bit.
Other firms have resorted to more tactical alternatives to redundancy. They have stemmed the flow of graduates, or offered paid sabbaticals to people. What is certainly true is that the number of young people in consultancy, as with industry, is falling in line with the ageing population. And it will continue to fall over the next few years. A reliance on more experienced hands is the inevitable result. So in the future, you are going to have to work hard to find the people you want.
There has been an inevitable decline in “bench” recruiting – i.e building up practice numbers in anticipation of there being a job. There is still a significant amount of recruitment going on for specific positions. In this ever changing landscape, we have found over the past few months, that it is the smaller firms who are growing fastest in % headcount terms.
You will all be able to make things happen in your company, if you adapt to the changing expectations of the people who want to work for you, and the people who already work for you. By responding to change, you will make your company distinctive and attractive.
You can of course sit back and watch things happen or wait a few years and wonder what happened? But I recommend a purposeful pitch to be head of the pack. If you don’t, I’ll remind you of my favourite Yukon saying,
“If you’re not the lead husky, the view never changes”