The value of ChMC accreditation

Government Chief Commercial Officer Gareth Rhys Williams recently highlighted the great work being done to drive up professional standards in consulting with the new Chartered Management Consultant accreditation. Tamzen Isacsson, CEO of the Management Consultancies Association (MCA), looks at the award’s growth over the past three years
Tamzen Isacsson, MCA

In today’s economy, people don’t just look at quality and cost; they care about values. Whether it’s the brands we buy, the companies we work for, the staff we employ, or the businesses we partner with, we are all, increasingly, prioritising integrity, ethics and professional standards.

For those in government, working on behalf of the public and spending taxpayers’ money, the highest ethical standards are vital when procuring external expertise. Civil servants must ensure the consultants they work with are not just delivering the best value for money, but that they are demonstrating the strongest values. Yet, in a competitive market with a vast number of brands, it can be difficult to differentiate.

The Chartered Management Consultant (ChMC) accreditation, which we launched three years ago this week, helps anyone procuring consultancy services to be confident they’ve found the right firm to partner with on their project. Consultants go through a rigorous process to become chartered: they must have worked in the industry for a minimum of seven years for the experienced route; demonstrate skills and expertise across 54 competencies; and have solid evidence of valuable client work. The competencies set out in our framework focus not just on management and leadership, but on behaviour and ethics.

There has long been a demand for this sort of kitemark from consultants themselves. I remember talking to someone who worked for one of our larger member firms, which represented several other professions. She was envious of the recognition engineers and accountants received for their chartered status. Where was the equivalent for consultants?

So, I haven’t been surprised that so many consultants have leapt at the opportunity to be part of this prestigious programme, which we at the MCA devised alongside the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). So far, 1,170 consultants have gone through the process, and a further 4,000 are on the journey. Uptake in 2023 increased by 60 per cent in one year alone. It is already proving vital to consultants in their day-to-day work: in a recent survey, over three-quarters of ChMCs said they felt chartered status reassured clients of the expertise they offer.[1]

Clients have also welcomed the accreditation, including in the public sector, which accounts for over a quarter of consultancies’ work. Alongside the Government Consulting Playbook, the ChMC provides a further guide when sourcing consultants. At a recent event to celebrate the anniversary of the accreditation, Government Chief Commercial Officer Gareth Rhys Williams said that good business ethics was vital for any supplier, encouraging more consultants to begin the ChMC journey: “Doing this is the right thing to do – for your clients, your people, your organisation and your profession.” What a vote of confidence. I hope consultants will read those words and feel inspired. I hope civil servants will read them and know the benefits of working with chartered management consultants.

One especially welcome consequence of the accreditation is that it levels the playing field. Consulting is increasingly becoming known for its diverse intake and dedication to promoting social mobility, as a leading employer of women, people from ethnic minority backgrounds and apprentices. The statistics for chartered consultants are truly heartening: 55 per cent of people with accreditation are female; 27 per cent are from ethnic minority backgrounds; and 26 per cent are from lower or intermediate socio-economic backgrounds.[2]

The fact that our more diverse consultants have taken to the ChMC with such gusto suggests they really welcome the opportunity. That is the strength of the ChMC. Wherever you come from; whichever entry route you took, either as an apprentice, a graduate or an experienced hire; whether you work for a Big 4 firm or a small start-up – you can become chartered, and you will be an exemplar for high professional standards.

It is down to the hard work of the consultants that this has been such a success, but it is also down to their employers. Fifty of our member firms offer the programme, and that number is rising. It is to consultancies’ great credit that they invest so deeply in their staff, through professional development, training and skills. By enabling them to pursue chartered status, they are helping them to add even more strings to their bows. And in doing so, they are increasing the value of modern, British consulting.


[1] CMI ChMC Survey 2024

[2] CMI ChMC Survey 2024

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