How good is a consulting firm

economy : The fight for the territory

If you want to steer your career in the direction of management consulting or auditing, you now have good opportunities to switch. On the one hand because the services of these professional groups are in increasing demand again thanks to the good economic situation and they are looking for reinforcement. On the other hand, because both industries are structurally changing, from which academics with professional experience in particular benefit.

The latest market study by the Federal Association of German Management Consultants (BDU) shows how well the consulting firms have recovered from the financial crisis. According to this, the consulting companies were able to increase their sales in 2010 by 6.9 percent to 18.9 billion euros and thus more than make up for the slump from 2009.

BCG, for example, number two behind McKinsey in Germany, increased by six percent in Germany and Austria. The sales of Bain & Company “even grew by double digits” in the same period, says Germany boss Rolf-Magnus Weddigen. Klaus-Peter Gushurst from Booz & Company has his own business climate barometer: "When I drive into the office parking garage in the morning and our parking spaces are empty, I know that we are fully occupied." At the moment, sales are 15 percent higher than last year.

According to BDU President Antonio Schnieder, the trigger for the growth in the sector is particularly the demand from key industries such as mechanical engineering, chemicals and automobiles, which are again looking for targeted advice on strategy and market development. Both the large consulting groups and the small specialists can benefit from this - if they focus their business model. Because the competition between companies is growing. Around 14,000 management consultancies vie for customers who are becoming more and more demanding and who often no longer want to pay exorbitant daily rates.

Under these circumstances, according to Schnieder, the market will split in two: “Heavyweights like McKinsey, BCG or Roland Berger want and must continue to grow in order to expand their internationality and offer advice in all areas.” And there is a steadily growing advisory apparatus Devour money, there will probably also be mergers or acquisitions among the largest ten in the industry in the foreseeable future in order to save costs. The second major group that would bring about such a consolidation of the market are smaller, medium-sized management consultancies that focus consistently on individual industries or consulting fields and develop an expertise advantage over the full-range retailers.

“Extremely in-depth specialist knowledge will be more sought-after than general strategy consulting in the future,” says Wolfgang Habelt, Professor of European Management, Business Organization and Leadership at the Munich University of Applied Sciences. Carsten Suntrop, who is himself a partner in a management consultancy, also sees the specialization as an opportunity for small companies: "Methodical know-how, the social and industry competence of the powerful specialists are so pronounced that they are also available for large companies, which otherwise tend to Rely on the well-known names in the industry, being able to be a real alternative. ”In Suntrop's experience, small and medium-sized clients tend to turn to smaller, specialized companies anyway - clients and consultants meet on an equal footing.

Job changers play both tendencies into their cards, both the specialization of the little ones and the expansionist striving of the big ones. At Booz, for example, the recruitment rate of young consultants with industry experience has risen significantly: “In the past, only about ten percent of our newly hired consultants came from industry,” says Klaus-Peter Gushurst, “in contrast, last year it was 45 percent.” One reason for this shift is the strong general pressure on consultant fees. "Clients are much more willing to pay a high daily rate when they are advised by an expert with industry experience."

But not only the top-selling management consultancies are increasingly relying on experience. The smaller, specialized management consultancies, which, according to Antonio Schnieder, are the fastest growing segment in the industry, prefer young people with previous knowledge anyway because they do not want to invest so much time and money in their training. And because they mainly advise medium-sized companies who value practical, application-oriented help and are more likely to get along with a consultant who, ideally, has switched from medium-sized companies to the consulting business. Communication style and demeanor are also important in a close client-advisor relationship.

The same applies to the auditing industry: client and auditor should match. The career opportunities are good in both cases, because the auditing industry as a whole is on the upswing. The Institute of Auditors (IDW) expects increasing sales. Although the companies primarily recruit their offspring directly from the university, lateral entrants also have good opportunities, especially those who have already passed their auditor exams. You can score points if you are particularly familiar with an industry. Economists, lawyers and mathematicians with knowledge of taxes and finances are also in demand who are starting as test assistants and are ready to prepare for the demanding exam at the same time - the candidates are often supported financially and with leave of absence from their employers. (HB)

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