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Three quarters of consulting firms believe clients are actively trying to attract consultants away from their firm

Date: Wednesday, 08 February 2012 10:30 AM

Consulting firms have always competed with one another for talent, but according to new research from Source and Penna, there are a growing number of consultants leaving the industry to work for clients.

The report, “A new front in the war for talent” found that 76% of consulting firms believe clients are actively trying to attract consultants away from their firm and 30 per cent have already changed their business model in response to this new front.

These figures demonstrate a continuing demand for consulting skills at a time when many clients are keen to spend less with consulting firms.

According to the report, one of the factors behind this demand is the growth in popularity of internal consulting divisions, which have narrowed the distinction between a consulting firm and client and led to changes in what a client needs from a consulting firm.

Client demand is now for high-level consulting talent with even more experience than their in-house team and for consultants, typically at a more junior level, who can plug gaps in the client’s own internal resources.

Edward Haigh, Director at Source and author of the report, said: “Instead of the traditional pyramid-shaped consulting firm, clients want one that’s more like an hour-glass – biggest at the top and bottom, but pinched in the middle.”

Sally Wilson, Head of Penna’s Associate Consulting Practice, also noted that: “As consulting firms have shifted their emphasis towards junior talent, there has also been an increase in demand from our consulting clients for experienced associates to deliver work. The flexibility of the associate model appeals to clients who can draw on resources as and when they need it”.

Additional findings from the report include:

  • Just 15% of respondents from consulting firms said that remuneration was now one of the most effective ways to attract talent away from industry. More effective are thought to be diversity of work (35%) and the opportunity to work alongside high-quality consultants (25%)
  • 58% of new recruits into the consulting industry come from consulting firms rather than clients (23%), showing that where recruitment is concerned, competition remains between consulting firms.


About Source - Source is a leading provider of information about the market for management consulting. Set up in 2007 and based in London, Source serves both consulting firms and their clients with expert analysis, research and reporting. We draw not only on our extensive in-house experience, but also on the breadth of our relationships with both suppliers and buyers. All of our work is underpinned by our core values of intelligence, integrity, efficiency and transparency.

Source is owned by Source Information Services Ltd, an independent company, which was founded by Fiona Czerniawska and Joy Burnford. Fiona is one of the world's leading experts on the consulting industry. She has written numerous books on the industry including: The Intelligent Client and The Economist books, Business Consulting: A Guide to How it Works and How to Make it Work and Buying Professional Services. Joy Burnford was Marketing and Operations Director at the UK Management Consultancies Association between 2003 and 2010, and prior to that worked for PA Consulting Group and has extensive experience of marketing consulting services. For further details please visit

About Penna Plc - Penna is a global HR Services Group. Through effective services and unrivalled expertise, we help organisations improve their performance through their people. Our expertise spans the entire employment lifecycle – from attraction & communications, managed recruitment and assessment, executive search & interim and assessment to learning & development, board & executive coaching, consulting solutions, welfare to work and outplacement. For further details please visit

For more information please contact Louise Lerego on 020 7332 7863 or

Keywords: Executive Interim |

News Type: Our news |