Consultancy: Working in partnership to deliver for the UK

MCA chief executive Tamzen Isacsson on consultants supporting private and public sector clients to face the future during challenging times
Image courtesy MCA

In the last few years, we, as a nation, have had to come together to face a number of daunting challenges. We faced the pandemic together, battling to keep the economy growing while gearing ourselves up for the sustainability and technological needs of the future.

The UK is a service economy whose professional services are world-renowned, and the management consultancy sector has played an important part in helping tens of thousands of clients in public and private organisations across the country face up to all these demanding challenges. Increasingly, we play a vital role in future-proofing British and global businesses, enabling them to grow and prosper.

We are a truly national industry contributing substantially to the nation's economy and society. The UK consulting industry is worth almost £20bn to the UK economy, employing more than 100,000 people in over 350 offices across the UK, with 274 outside London in cities including Manchester, Belfast, Cardiff, and Edinburgh.

As a sector, we have grown in recent years, as clients across the world have turned to the UK as a global consulting hub to access the specialist's advice, expertise, and assistance they need to adapt to new and growing challenges. We are also forecast to continue this growth in future years, with double-digit growth in 2023 and 2024.

UK consultants advise companies across the globe and develop the careers of thousands of people at home, including record numbers of apprentices and school leavers. Management consultancy is opening up to a wider talent pool of people from increasingly diverse backgrounds, reflecting the makeup of the modern UK as a whole.

The stereotype of consultancy being the preserve of an Oxbridge elite is consigned to the past. There is also a continued decline in the number of consultants who have attended a Russell Group university. Now, consultants are drawn from an increasing diversity of backgrounds, and nearly 30% of consultants report social mobility characteristics.

The role we as consultants play in national life continues to broaden and deepen. Government is one of our key clients, and we support them in delivering better frontline services.

We are ever mindful of the privilege of public service. Adding expertise, experience, and fresh perspectives to dedicated public servants in health and education to help deliver the most complex infrastructure projects, ours is a partnership in the public interest. Indeed, the new generation of management consultants increasingly cite public service and offering value for money for the taxpayer as two of the main attractions to the profession.

Together with government, the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) has worked extensively to create the 'Consultancy Playbook', ensuring the highest standards of work and the greatest value for money are delivered while working to ensure that government is the best client it can be.

There are improvements to be made in how government engages with consultants, including the importance of specifying outcomes and deliverables at the start and planning adequately from the government's side to ensure the successful transfer of skills and knowledge.

We look forward to further collaboration and additional work to ensure the true value of consulting can be achieved for every project across the public sector.

But most of our work, of course, still comes from supporting the private sector worldwide. Cyber security and technology transformation are essential, and the implications of AI are vital considerations for us all. On climate change, humanity's biggest test, consultants are at the forefront of aiding businesses and society into meaningful, sustainable change.

Our member companies are engaged in finding solutions to the challenge of climate change at home and abroad, from retrofitting buildings, assisting regional cities with their net-zero ambitions and developing the UK's offshore infrastructure. Sustainability is a constant in our clients' top three priorities.

As the challenges become more daunting, we respond as professionals, always raising our standards. That's why we established the Chartered Management Consultant accreditation (ChMC). Setting standards clients can understand and rely on. At its heart, it is an examination of key competencies and a commitment to the highest ethical standards. In a world where a sceptical public doubts the standards of some in public life, we demonstrate to our clients that our ethics are beyond reproach.

Over the next couple of years, we expect our industry to build on its global reputation as a consulting hub as it assists clients with some of their greatest challenges during this period of significant global disruption. Seizing the advantages of working with new technologies and making real impacts on confronting climate change.

The sector looks forward to working in partnership with government to overcome these challenges, delivering the best in public services, and deploying the latest technological advancements while upholding the highest ethical standards and integrity that are embedded in our principles of Consulting Excellence.

As professionals, we have the opportunity and duty to serve our government and society. We are a proud sector, an increasingly important part of the UK's prosperity, society, and future.

About the author


Tamzen Isacsson

Chief executive of Management Consultancies Association, MCA

Read the most recent articles written by Management Consultancies Association (MCA) - The value of ChMC accreditation


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