For those who decide to enter the industry, consultancy offers a wide range of opportunities: varying from the public sector to financial services and from telecommunications to media, consultants can find themselves operating in a range of environments. The following article is the third in a serialisation of more than 100 pages of career editorial from The Definitive Guide to UK Consulting Firms. Professionals seriously considering the option of furthering their career in consulting may download the full guide.

The main consulting service lines and industries served

In this article by the specialist recruitment consultancy Huntswood, we aim to provide insight into the main industries and service lines that consultants have the opportunity to work across.

Financial services

The financial services sector faces tough regulatory change and, alongside the telecommunications sector, is a huge area for consultancy work. Despite economic difficulties, consulting to this area has remained at a steady level, due in part to the large structural changes the industry is moving through.

Yielding to consumer demands, the Bank of England (BOE) and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) are pressing for an increased focus on customer outcomes and customer value by implementing new regulations and raising expectations. Alvin Jackson, Director at Mulberry Consulting, said: 'Financial Services in general has taken a knock recently in terms of reputation. Along with a lot of industries, they've realised they can't differentiate on price but can on customer service which is where we help our clients, working on "promise to reality".' Alongside this, the G20 is spearheading the introduction of tougher and more globally co-ordinated regulation of the financial services industry. Initiatives such as the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) and increased regulation around the trading of derivatives will have an immense effect on both the products companies sell and the methods and individuals who sell them. David Newland, Vice President at Sapient Global Markets, talked about the substantial increase seen in work: 'The derivative landscape for global regulators is changing significantly and requiring a massive overhaul of product processing.' The changes within the industry have led to continue work for consultancy firms where their expertise is needed to help make the difficult step changes and address the strategic, operational and compliance implications of new regulation.

Vincent Kasbi, Managing Director of lnvestance, stated: 'The crisis is driving major change in the financial services industry. The pressure on financial institutions to respond to regulatory and operational challenges has created opportunities for consultancies to make a real difference. However, the winners will be those that can bring specialist expertise combined with a deep understanding of the industry and a commitment to building relationships with clients over the long term.'

According to one of the 'Big 4', key areas of focus include identification and management of systemic risks, transparency of trading and incentives, as well as new consumer protections to improve resolution and recovery.

Transaction cost analysis, operational efficiency, LEAN and other management techniques ensure organisations are operating at maximum efficiency and lowest cost possible. This will also be the priority focus for most banks. Financial services organisations are looking at how they can improve both the attractiveness and viability of their business and operating models. They are also targeting the management of risk, the competitive returns available from products and portfolios under the new rules, along with effective governance and efficiency of international organisational structures. Finally, management of data and systems, which will be required to provide reporting transparency, underpins many of these topics.


Following on from Financial Services, there is a big crossover with the global commodities market where consultancies such as Baringa and lnvestance are growing rapidly. Sapient Global Markets are particularly well known in this area, where they are looking at business change initiative and new IT platforms.

The energy market is a sector that is closely linked to public interest. Rising oil and gas prices, the emerging global issue of sustainability and tough customer based targets in the utilities sector, have all had an impact on the public's perception of the industry and have also led to opportunities for consulting. Energy is a market of opportunity that poses significant challenges to consultancy. Oil and gas continues to generate over half of the UK's energy with consulting projects largely focusing around the key issue of system replacement. There is a growing channel of consultancies such as Baringa Partners and Pcubed who offer both IT advisory and project and programme management advice within this space.

Looking to usurp the energy crown from oil and gas is renewable energy. This new kid on the block is fast emerging as the next driver of business innovation. Motivated by rising regulatory and customer pressures, consultants are needed to provide sustainable business strategies to drive out cost, by improving environmental performance, develop new products and service lines, and increase brand value. The synergy of IT solutions and outcome-focused, business­based solutions within sustainability consultancy are the way forward. We are seeing growth in this area at Logica, Atos and PwC who are all positioning themselves as the sustainability consulting behemoths of the future.

Utilities companies such as EDF are adding a renewable energy string to their bow. In fact utilities aren't just about wire and pipes anymore. Many projects are focused around IT platform upgrades, operational improvement, and risk & compliance. There is a huge amount of consulting work occurring around enabling the roll out of smart metering in both energy and water utilities. Utilities face tough regulatory targets on both cost and customer satisfaction levels. This truly challenges the profit margins of companies providing what can only be seen as essential services, making consultants a valuable resource in this space.


Telecommunications has traditionally been the third largest consultancy area after financial services and the public sector. Its position as a big hitter has been maintained throughout the recession as Simon Dorris, Managing Partner from Lansdowne, put it: 'During the recession there was a focus on cost reduction which tends to result in larger, more long-term performance improvement projects.'

A quick glance at the industry tells us that long gone are the days of the large 1980s-style brick phones and the public telephone box. In fact the fast-paced nature of the industry has seen a leap forwards in technology and in today's market, the latest innovation is all too quickly yesterday's news.

The increasing sophistication of the industry has led to a greater demand for consultants to look at pricing strategy, change management and performance improvement. A lot of consultancy work in this sector focuses around helping companies to ensure they are hitting the right consumer groups through relevant branding and advertising. They also need to ensure they are marketing their products at the right price in a capricious, ever-changing environment. In addition to this, consultancy work focuses on IT installation/ integration projects, often driven by large scale IT firms such as Accenture and IBM, ensuring companies stay inline with or ahead of the curve. Recognising the massive amount the change that most companies are undertaking, lan Hellens, Managing Director at Project One Consulting, says: 'A bread more