Management consulting market of Asia Pacific now worth $50 billion

27 September 2018 Consultancy.eu

The consulting industry of Asia Pacific, consisting of Asia, Australasia and a number of other very small markets, will this year break through the barrier of $50 billion, according to new data analysis. The region is one of the fastest growing consulting sectors in the world, having added around $10 billion in fee income in the space of just four years. Japan and South Korea remain Asia’s largest consulting markets, while China, India and Australia are the main drivers of growth in volume.

With a population of 4.3 billion, around 60% of the world's population, Asia Pacific is a force to reckon with. The region generated a gross domestic output (GDP) of $28.2 trillion last year, of which powerhouse China accounted for nearly 40%, making Asia Pacific in terms of economic output larger than the US, Germany and the United Kingdom combined.

The region’s management consulting industry however is still playing catch-up, yet is doing so at a rapid pace. According to an analysis by Consultancy.eu’s sister platform, which leveraged data from US-analyst firm ALM, Asia Pacific’s consultancy landscape has grown by 6% or more for four consecutive years. Meanwhile, the outlook for the region remains strong, with 7% growth forecasted for next year. As a result of the growth, spending on management consultants in Asia Pacific is now above $50 billion. In comparison, the globe’s largest marketplace for consultants, North America, is valued at around $152 billion, with the United States holding a 90% share of that region.

The Asia Pacific region includes around 50 countries, spanning East, South and South East Asia – including India, China and a host of other booming markets – and Oceania, which is most notable for hosting Australia and New Zealand, but also includes a myriad of Pacific island nations across the Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia micro-regions. The region’s diversity means that its consulting industries vary significantly in size, market structure and maturity.

Size of the management consulting industry of Asia Pacific ($ / billion)

Japan and Korea are the largest markets in the region, contributing a massive 44% of the total, with consulting firms in the two countries billing more than $20 billion in fees to their clients. Greater China accounts for nearly a fifth of revenues in the Asia Pacific, yet contrary to Japan & South Korea, the region is growing fast, at 24%. While growth of the Chinese consulting market is expected to slow as the economy slows as well, consulting spend is still forecast to see double-digit growth in 2018 and 2019, of 11% per annum. 

The third largest region in Asia’s management consulting space is Australia & Polynesia, which includes the developed markets of Australia and New Zealand, together with a host of tiny markets including Tahiti and Vanuatu. In Australia, nearly half of industry fees are generated by two important sectors for the country – natural resources (mining) and power – while the government and financial services sectors together account for around 40% of Australia’s consultancy market. 

From a service line perspective, Strategy & Operations remains the largest service sold to clients. The field includes traditional strategy consulting work, such as corporate and business unit strategy, commercial due diligence and high-end work for large organisational transformations. Operations focuses on performance improvement in primary and secondary processes, including logistics, supply chain, manufacturing and back-office.

IT and digital consulting accounts for nearly one quarter of Asia Pacific’s consulting industry. This segment includes work such as technology advisory, digital transformations, cybersecurity, infrastructure design and system implementation, but excludes more tech-oriented activities such as systems integration, application maintenance and managed services. Financial consulting is seeing its share of the total grow, on the back of China’s banking renaissance and the growing standing Hong Kong and Singapore are taking in global financial markets.

Consulting firms

The consulting firms that dominate the market in Asia Pacific to a large extent mirror the global situation. The Big Four – Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC – are the largest overall, particularly strong in financial consulting as they enjoy a heritage in accounting, audit and financial advisory. They are followed by the three large US-strategy consulting firms, McKinsey & Company, The Boston Consulting Group, and Bain & Company, which likewise to the US and Europe are larger than their main rivals A.T. Kearney, Oliver Wyman, Strategy& and Roland Berger.

Large players groomed in the region include Abeam Consulting (a partner of BearingPoint), Solidiance (a strategy & operations specialist) and MTI Consulting, a management consultancy, among others.

For more information on the developments in Asia Pacific’s management consulting industry, read the article ‘Asia Pacific consulting industry breaks $50 billion barrier' on Consultancy.eu’s regional sister platform, Consultancy.asia.

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80% of clients satisfied with management consulting services

25 February 2019 Consultancy.eu

According to research among private and public sector consultancy buyers in the UK, 8 out of 10 clients are satisfied with the work carried out by management consultants. 84% of the clients polled by the British association of management consulting firms said that they use consulting services when they are in need of strategic, transformation or change support. 

The study found that 81% of the respondents believed that the delivery of consultancy services had met or exceeded their expectations. Additionally, more than half of respondents said that consulting work provided had consistently exceeded or substantially exceeded their expectations. At the other end of the spectrum, less than 9% felt that money spent on management consultants was not worth the investment.

Based on the results, UK’s consulting association – operating as the Management Consultancies Association (MCA), the counterpart of the BDU in Germany or Consult'in France in France – concludes that across the board, the quality of management consultancy services in the country has grown in the past years. Main reasons for the professionalisation include growing competition spurring the need for maturity, technology-led innovation which bolsters service propositions and quality assurance and more scrutiny from clients on who they hire and for what. 

However, critics of the study accuse the industrial representative body of bias, drawing an analogy with a butcher who is inspecting the quality of his own meat. The MCA however rebuffed the accusations of bias, pointing out that the survey was conducted by an external research agency, ensuring an impartial methodology and set of results.Do consulting projects add value to clients“We’re encouraged by the feedback from business leaders about the value of consulting,” said Tamzen Isacsson, CEO of the MCA. While the study didn’t look into the hard return on investment of consulting spend, the UK association did conduct such a study a few years ago, finding that clients were getting a return of £6 for every £1 invested. In the recent report, 16% of respondents listed value for money as an aspect of engaging consultants they especially appreciated, however, non-monetary aims were more important for consultancy buyers. Top reasons cited as to why management consultants were hired include independent thinking and transformational outcomes (49% each), and knowledge transfer and achievement of project goals (35% each). 

When asked for which services they typically hire consultants, business transformation came on top by some distance. This is mainly due to the changing environment in which organisations operate, with aspects such as heightened competition, tech-led disruption, a changing workforce and more demanding consumers leading the need for change. In order to adapt to these and other forces, organisations need to revamp their business strategies and operating models, meaning that larger business transformation efforts are required to remain successful.

Not surprisingly, digital and technology ranked second, with nearly all companies nowadays looking into how emerging technologies can benefit their business. In manufacturing, Industry 4.0 holds major promise for operational improvement, in aviation, the internet of things will be crucial for smoother maintenance & operations, while in automotive, robotisation is becoming key to streamline production lines. Technology also can massively benefit the public sector, including areas such as communication with inhabitants and entrepreneurs, as well as internal processes.Which consulting services are used most by organisationsFunctional areas of management consulting that remain in high demand are strategy, finance, project management and change management. 

Looking ahead into 2019, efficiency is the top businesses challenge clients will seek to hire consultants for, at 47% of responses. Not surprisingly, Brexit ranks high – the UK and EU still are working on ways to settle Brexit by the end of March, and in its slipstream the impact on businesses and governments. Digital implementation and crafting strategies to deal with digital disruption round off the list of top priorities. 

For more information on the study, see the article ‘8 out of 10 UK companies hire consultants, and are satisfied’ on Consultancy.uk. 

Related: Italy's management consulting market grows 7% to €4.3 billion.