The North American consulting market is together with Europe the largest and most mature region for management consultants. According to the latest estimates, North America’s consultancy market reaps just under $100 billion in fee income, which represents around 40% of the global consulting industry. In 2017 fee income is forecasted to break through the $100 billion mark.
Over the past years the North American advisory market has seen continued growth, on the back of a strong recovery from the financial crisis between 2008 and 2010, which traces its origins back to the US following the collapse of Lehman Brothers. In 2011 the industry was valued at $82 billion, and in the subsequent years the sector has seen annual growth rates of between 3% and 4%*. In 2016 spending on consultants in the US and Canada is set to grow by 4.2%, taking the North American consulting market to a total $99 billion.
While the Canadian economy makes up around 11% of North American economic output, the country’s consulting market comprises 'only' 7% of North America's consulting landscape. The Canadian advisory market has a strong heritage in natural resources, with healthcare and financial services the second and third largest consulting buyers in the country.
With a 93% share of the North American consulting industry, the US is the single largest market of the globe, between 5x to 10x larger than the UK and German consulting markets – Europe’s powerhouses – and more than 10x the size of the Australian advisory market. Not just in size the US leads the pack, analysts too describe the market as the most mature, ahead in aspects such as firm professionalisation, offerings and innovation in the consulting domain. The US benefits from the sheer size of the US economy, and the fact that the majority of the largest global consultancies are headquartered in the US, including the likes of McKinsey, BCG and Bain, as well as three of the Big Four Deloitte, EY and PwC.
The edge in maturity also follows from historical developments – the US has traditionally been the breeding ground of the management consulting industry. The first modern consulting firm as we know it today was founded in the US (Arthur D. Little in 1893), and in the early decades of the 20th century several well-known firms followed suit, such as Booz Allen Hamilton (founded in 1914) and A.T. Kearney and McKinsey & Company (both established in 1926). After years of expanding in North America, the firms crossed the Atlantic in the early 1960s, when large European organisations started demanding management and organisational capabilities to transform their strategies and structures in light of the region’s recovery from World War II. McKinsey for instance opened its first European office in 1959, based in London, while A.T. Kearney picked Düsseldorf in Germany as the base for its first international hub.
Since, several other large US headquartered firms have added to the US’ domination in the top of the market, including firms such as Boston Consulting Group (founded in 1963), Bain & Company (1973), Accenture (1989), FTI Consulting (1982) and Marsh & McLennan Companies (the parent of among others Oliver Wyman, Mercer and Marsh).
* Market sizes are based on data from ALM Intelligence. See the page 'Market Segments’ for more information on the methodology and definitions.