Why the rest of the Big Four are wrong on consultancy

Deloitte has always been committed to keeping a consultancy practice as part of an integrated service offering. A key reason underlying our strategy is the real benefit a consulting capability affords us both in terms of offering the best range of services to our clients and its attractiveness to our own people.

The skills and competencies of a consultancy enhance the overall business. With the consultancy market improving and growing faster than it has done for several years, our multidisciplinary approach puts us in a good position to rise to the demands of the market. We are certainly witnessing a renewed enthusiasm for consultancy with an uplift in client orders and this is having a knock-on effect on our practice areas with recruitment taking place across all parts of our business for employees who can advise on technologies and how to implement them.

After a tough few years in the consultancy market, the growth in business is very welcome. We believe that running a consultancy practice differentiates us in a very positive way. In 2004 we are seeing this belief borne out as other firms rebuild their consultancy services, albeit under the tagline of ‘advisory services’

However, the consulting world of today is very different from that of the 1990s, not only because the players have changed but also because buyer behaviour has moved on.

Since the last major upturn in the consultancy market, there has been a more pragmatic purchasing of consultancy services. We are also seeing a strong focus on projects that are closely aligned with business strategy and which can deliver tangible results, particularly in terms of profitability. Our clients are looking to work in partnership with consultants who combine a very high standard of consulting with an in-depth knowledge of the relevant industry sectors.

This industry focus has become the grist to the consultant’ mill. Buyers are under more pressure than ever to justify their spending and need to show tangible results, so they have to be able to tap into a range of services outside traditional management consultancy. We have a full range of other advisory services, including tax and corporate finance, and we often combine those skills in advising a client.

Also notable is that the market for IT consultancy continues to evolve rapidly, with the emphasis firmly placed on realising value from previous investments.

Although we are committed to an integrated services approach we would not offer restricted consultancy services to existing audit clients – in any event, our clients would not accept them. A large market in the UK allows us to retain a significant consulting business while maintaining an unparalleled regulatory track record within the profession.

For a number of firms, the separation of audit and consulting businesses, whether through sale or buyout, seemed the solution to independence issues two and a half years ago.

For some auditors, including those whose business was under threat, it may well have been the quickest and easiest solution.

But two years on, there is a much better understanding of the regulatory environment in which we all operate and things look positive for the future growth of the industry.

Related reading