Consultancy: Contracts snapped up by ‘Big Eight’

Mid-tier consulting firms are battling against a ‘Big Eight’ for new recruits and contracts.

As PKF and RSM Robson Rhodes recruit heavily into their consulting practices, both face strong opposition from the top accountancy firms and consulting houses for work in the advisory services field.

Cath Hardaker, head of consulting at PKF, said that the firm is facing up to increasing competition, and is looking to take on more staff.

‘There’s essentially a Big Eight we are up against, which makes things more competitive. They’re still doing consulting,’ Hardaker said. ‘But the Big Four accounting firms have gone through change, therefore we are very well placed. We are having a very strong recruitment drive, from the bottom up.’

Ernst &Young, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers and KPMG have all strongly denied that they will re-enter into ‘big-ticket’ IT consulting work. E&Y UK chairman Nick Land told Accountancy Age: ‘We are not going back into IT consulting. That’s why we got out of the business because consulting was becoming increasingly IT-centric, which had less and less connection with the rest of the business.’

Sukhbinder Heer, chief operating partner at RSM Robson Rhodes, said that the firm would not compete for FTSE100 compliance work – a stronghold for the Big Four. ‘But we will compete for advisory services,’ he added.

Meanwhile, KPMG has taken on a five-strong information security team from consultancy firm Capgemini, which will be led by Jeremy White, the former head of LogicaCMG’s UK security practice.

Nick Jarman, head of financial management solutions at Atos Consulting, said the firm would happily compete with the Big Four but also work alongside them, particularly in the area of compliance such as Sarbanes-Oxley and international financial reporting standards.

‘We know that the Big Four will be re-growing their consulting practices this year and we welcome the competition. We are hiring staff in the consulting division specifically for those areas of compliance,’ Jarman said.

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