Over the past 5 years, the Big 4 and larger Top 10 firms have experienced substantial growth in areas not traditionally associated with accounting firms. The days of Accountancy firms being one-dimensional Audit and Tax specialists are most definitely over. We are now presented with a much more diverse range of service offerings and this has resulted in a big surge for talent across the Consulting and Advisory space.
As it stands, Ireland’s consulting sector generates over €700m in yearly revenue for firms. A sizeable amount for sure, but in comparison to our neighbours in the UK, it’s one-tenth of the size. The usual Big 4 firms are leading the charge along with the likes of Accenture, BDO and Grant Thornton.
As well as organic headcount growth, we’ve also seen a few interesting acquisitions over the past few years with BDO acquiring Eaton Square, EY acquiring the economic advisory firm DKM and Deloitte buying System Dynamics back in 2015 to name just a few.
So what does this mean for you? Well, from a talent acquisition point of view we believe that the Consultancy and Advisory route can be a fantastic new way to broaden your experience and skill set. For the most part, these areas are understaffed due to the high growth nature of the divisions and it has allowed a large number of accountants, banking and other professionals use their qualification in a new area.
Outside of adding to your skill set and experience, by transitioning into these areas now, you are giving yourself a fantastic opportunity to shape the direction of your career and the consultancy division. In more developed markets like the UK, the route to Director or Partner can be arduous and quite rigid. In a developing market like Ireland, it can offer a rare opportunity to accelerate your career path to Partner. I will caveat this by saying, especially in the Irish market, if you don’t have a ready-made network of clients to tap into then acquiring a senior-level role straight away may be a struggle.
So what areas are experiencing the most growth?
The key areas across Consulting can be broken down into the following areas:
Strategy & Operations
Within these areas, there are specialist teams focusing on various sectors and industries. Where we have seen the biggest growth to date has been around the Transaction Advisory, Technology and Finance Transformation teams.
Transactions Advisory - with a positive economic environment the volume of M&A and transaction activity has increased which has led to the growth of Transactions Services & Due Diligence teams across firms. This coupled with a spike in financial services focused projects has increased demand for professionals with strong analytical, modelling and due diligence experience.
Finance Transformation - with an ever-increasing focus on process improvements, companies and shared services are engaging specialist finance transformation teams to assist in developing a suitable strategy. Specialist advisory teams are increasingly in demand to assist CFOs to develop a suitable strategy to improve efficiency. Typically qualified accountants with process improvement, project management and/or six sigma background
Risk - with increased focus on regulation and compliance, the finance and risk teams are engaged on anything from risk strategy projects, internal audit and governance. Individuals who have a background in Risk or compliance with a keen eye for detail, implementing best practices and SOPs around these processes are best suited.
Strategy & Operations - this practice area is typically used by large or fast-growing organisations to generate measurable outcomes by linking the strategy to execution.
Technology - probably the fastest growing area within advisory, primarily driven by increasing demand for specialist IT skills within CyberSecurity, AI and Robotic solutions. We have seen a major transformation even in the culture of traditional firms to make space for the more modern style of employee typically associated with such tech skills.
People Advisory - similar approach to finance transformation team but focused on the human capital element of an organisation. With employee engagement and well rising to the top of the companies priority list, these teams can add substantial value to organisations undergoing any transformation projects. Typically an HR, Organisational behaviour or Talent Acquisition background bodes well here.
For a more detailed insight into the advisory market, talk to us today. Click below to schedule a call to discuss some fantastic opportunities.