The consulting arms of UK accounting firms—including the Big Four—account for nearly 40 per cent of all revenues earned in the UK consulting market in 2017 and make up the fastest growing firm segment…

The consulting arms of accounting firms—a group dominated by the Big Four—continue to dominate the UK consulting market, growing by 7.3 per cent[1] to £3bn in 2017, compared to the wider consulting market growth of 6.1 per cent to £7.8bn[2] during the same period. A combination of organic and inorganic growth helped to make this the fastest growing firm type in the market in 2017.

These figures are published today (26th March 2018) in a new report from Source Global Research, the leading research and strategy firm for the global management consulting industry. The report says that the consulting arms of accounting firms continue to dominate the UK market, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of all revenues earned and winning the majority of work in the enormous financial services market, thanks in large part to their reputation for risk & regulation services.

The report also says that these firms are eager to build up their digital arsenals as the value of digitisation[3] work performed in the UK consulting market jumped from £1.7billion in 2016 to almost £3billion in 2017. With this rapid rate of growth in mind, accounting firms are working hard to become the go-to firms for big, digital transformation projects. Digital work now represents a huge 37 per cent of the total UK consulting market.

Fiona Czerniawska, Director of Source Global Research said:

The Big Four have once again outperformed the competition in the UK consulting market. Their size allows them to offer a great breadth and depth of both sector and service line knowledge, which may make them a natural fit for the rapidly growing digital transformation market. However, it’s not at all certain that they will ultimately be successful in staking out this territory all for themselves, as many clients still see them offering less technology expertise than traditional technology firms and less strategy expertise than strategy houses.”


The Source report also says that digitisation is colonising all projects and all traditional consulting services, absorbing parts of strategy, operational improvement, risk, regulatory, and HR & change management work. For instance, over half of all strategy work in the UK is now digital-related, an even bigger share than in the technology service line, where over 40 per cent of all work is driven by digital.

Fiona Czerniawska, Director of Source Global Research added:

“From being largely concentrated in the technology and strategy service lines, digital is now starting to make up a part of all consulting services. In fact, its speed of colonisation is such that within the next 18 months, we believe it will no longer be necessary to label anything as digital in the UK consulting market – as everything will be digital in one way or another.”


The Source report also points out that, despite UK consulting revenues continuing to climb, the market is going through a turbulent period, owing to both global economic instability and the domestic juggernaut of Brexit. The degree to which Brexit is affecting consulting demand is questionable, with most consultants interviewed for this year’s Source report saying that, thus far, “it has been a bit of a non-event”.

Zoë Stumpf, Head Analyst at Source Global Research concluded:

“Brexit is the biggest question mark hanging over the sector. It still has potential to be a huge driver of demand, if no reciprocal arrangements with the EU are made, or something of a red herring, if deals are struck and business carries on more or less as usual. Only time will tell.”

Despite this domestic and global economic uncertainty, Source expects the UK consulting market to maintain its current rate of growth, expanding another 6 per cent this year.

For more information on Source reports contact ella-sian.jolley@sourceglobalresearch.com or telephone +44 (0)20 3478 1204 or visit www.sourceglobalresearch.com
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