Six fast growing consulting firms that also positively impact society

04 October 2018 Consultancy.uk

With corporate interests coming under increasing scrutiny from public officials, demonstrating a positive social benefit has become paramount for many top brands. Six fast growing UK management consulting firms have been lauded not just for their high-speed growth and boost to employment, but also for their positive impact on society and environment.

Earlier this year FT and Statista teamed up to create a list of Europe’s fastest growing companies. The list included over 20 management consulting firms, which were featured in the article ‘The fastest growing consulting firms of Europe’. Now, building on the list, the researchers have identified those Uk companies which on top of their consistent growth also make a difference on their industry, or wider society.

To qualify for this new ‘ranking from a ranking’, named the ‘FT Future 100 UK’ list, all of UK’s fast growing companies that qualified for the FT1000 were assessed to what extent they make make a positive impact via their environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies, or promoting diversity, or disrupting their industry. The new, more social-driven top 100 includes six management consulting firms.

Six fast growing consulting firms that also positively impact society

CMSPI

Named on the FT list for commitments to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices, CMSPI is a global, independent payments consultancy. The firm of 39 professionals works with hundreds of leading merchants to optimise and reduce payments costs, across 42 countries, with a number of leading brands across multiple sectors, including hotel chain Marriot, fast-food giant Subway, Enterprise vehicle rentals, and growing retailer Primark. Last year, the volume of cash and card revenue CMSPI negotiated totalled €341 billion.

Mansion House Consulting

Celebrating the firm’s efforts with regards to Diversity, Mansion House Consulting (MHC) was founded in 2009. Since then, they’ve continued to grow and now have 8 offices across the world. MHC is an international business and technology consultancy focused exclusively on the financial services sector operating across 18 locations. The firm works to provide high quality, practical and robust solutions to all areas of the industry. The consultancy continues to see steady growth from previous years and recently invested in new UK offices in Sheffield and Manchester.

Efficio

Lauded for its consistent growth by the Future 100 list, Efficio is one of the world’s larger specialised procurement consultancies. The firm operates across ten offices in Europe, North America and the Middle East, working with clients to help reduce costs, improve internal processes and up-skill their procurement teams so that they can realise cost savings faster. Between 2013 and 2016, the consultancy enjoyed CAGR growth of 35.9%, and upped its headcount by around 150 professionals.

Principle Holdings

Also praised for its ESG accomplishments, Principle Holdings is a global brand implementation agency, based in Huddersfield, England. The firm works to manage the agile delivery of brand implementation projects at scale, while creating intelligent solutions for clients. Established in 1987, the firm has 573 staff, 36% of whom are women.

Red Badger Consulting

Working for global brands such as the BBC, HSBC and Tesco, Red Badger is a consultancy focused on the digital transformation of large companies through innovation and delivery expertise. Having enjoyed CAGR of 102.6% from 2013 to 2016, the firm was placed on the ranking due to its ESG commitments, and counts Pride in London as one of its key clients. Since its founding in 2010, the firm has grown to a headcount of 84.

Regulatory Finance Solutions

Regulatory Finance Solutions (RFS) is a compliance consultancy within the financial risk and regulatory sectors. Founded in 2005, in the UK town of Swindon, RFS works with a broad range of financial services companies and regulated firms and have successfully managed and undertaken projects and reviews in areas including AML, FSAVCs, pensions, endowments, investments, mortgages, insurance, PPIs and complaints management. The firm of 75 people was selected for the Future 100 due to its ESG policies, as well as having achieved Consistent Growth.

Related: The top 50 leading management consulting firms in the UK.

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Accenture's push into the creative sector is an identity crisis

18 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

In its latest push into the creative sector, Accenture Interactive acquired New York and London-based ad agency Droga5 earlier this month, adding illustrious clients such as HBO, Amazon and The New York Times to its roster of clients. With the latest in a long line of similar purchases, Accenture Interactive further demonstrated its ambition of becoming the globe’s leading trusted advisor to chief marketing officers. Yet according to Ben Langdon, Chairman of Class35, Accenture’s strategy may be heading in the wrong direction.

A press release on Accenture’s website announcing the acquisition sits next to a quote stating that “brands aren’t built through advertising” – a huge contradiction from a consultancy firm hell-bent on becoming the ‘CMO agency of choice’. It’s not alone of course. The entire consulting industry wants a piece of the creative pie right now. In addition to Accenture Interactive, recent acquisitions by PwC Digital, IBM iX, and Deloitte Digital meant that in 2017, for the first time ever, four of the world’s ten largest creative agencies were consultancies.

So just what it is that Accenture wants to achieve from this? For one thing, it’s clearly trying to be a digital transformation business. A one-stop creative shop rivalling more traditional models, it wants to lure CMOs in with the promise of lower ad spend and a “more impactful customer experience”. At the same time, though, it’s still in thrall to those same slinky, shiny branding and advertising agencies it’s attempting to disrupt. The Droga5 acquisition and that of Karmarama a few years before are both testament to this.

There’s a fundamental problem with this, though. Digital transformation businesses don’t sell to CMOs. These people have enough on their plates trying to transform their own marketing skills in order to keep up with an ever-changing market – they just don’t have the time or the energy to concern themselves with digitally transforming a whole business. If Accenture’s purpose is digital transformation, then going after creative agencies is barking up the wrong tree.Is Accenture's push into the creative sector an identity crisis?

Worlds apart

Perhaps more importantly, these two industries are worlds apart in terms of the way they think. Creative agencies are all about ideas, campaigns and consumers. Digital businesses, on the other hand, are customer-driven – they think in terms such as lifetime value, measurement, and efficiency. Customer-led thinking is an entirely different beast to consumer-led thinking.

The reality is that the arrival of digital and an all-encompassing obsession with technology, measurement and social has led to the death of agencies in a reductive, zero-sum, efficiency-focused battle with brands. Indeed, agencies have become so obsessed with the latest tech fads, they’re beginning to forget how brands work. Worse still, they’re beginning to forget how brands are built. And, by forgetting, they’re destroying their own values.

Killing creativity

All things considered, it really feels to me as though Accenture is a chip leader in a game it doesn’t understand. Expensive acquisitions like these show that they’ve got the big money, but they don’t appear to have any idea what they’re doing with it. Take talent, for example. The best talent in the creative industry right now is out in the market; it’s not tied to any one agency. Both agencies might well be at the top of their game, but why would a consulting firm waste so much money on buying them when they could hire high-quality creative talent on a contingent basis instead?

As their presence in the top 10 creative agencies shows, there is a growing trend in which Accenture, like many of the other big players, are buying up agencies as if they were nothing more than keywords. What they’re really buying, though, is a collection of credentials, clients and IP. Unfortunately, the talent that created those credentials aren’t going to stay at the business, the clients that hired the agency in the first place won’t be interested in buying what is basically just another part of Accenture, and the IP never really existed to begin with.

Droga5, for example, was one of the few agencies that did great brand work the old-fashioned way – undoubtedly something that made it attractive to Accenture in the first place. The irony, though, is that by leading it further away from the way of working that made it so special, the consulting giant will kill its creativity.

“Accenture Interactive has been dazzled by its ambitions to become the CMO agency of record…. But, in flashing its cash, it is spending millions on acquiring nothing of any value.”

If pressed, the recently acquired agency staff at Accenture will tell you just how dysfunctional the new arrangement is. They’re largely unfulfilled. Rarely do they feel their work has any sort of meaning or purpose. What’s more, the different disciplines have found little or no common ground, and find it hard to work together as a cohesive whole. It’s not surprising, then, to see talented people leaving in droves.

Beyond the window dressing 

It’s clear, then, that consulting firms and creative agencies are no easy bedfellows. But in his company’s defence, Accenture Interactive’s Senior Managing Director for North America, Glen Hartman, described its culture as being “far, far away from what a stereotypical consulting firm would look like. Our office and studios look a lot like Droga5’s.”

In demonstrating a belief that office design equates to workplace culture, this statement serves as an illustration of how confused Accenture is right now. It wants to justify its new strategy so badly, it’s started dressing like a creative agency. But if you look beyond the window dressing and see that you and your partners are speaking a different language with a different purpose, selling to different people in a different market, there’s no getting away from the fact that you’re different.

Accenture Interactive has been dazzled by its ambitions to become the CMO agency of record, and it wants to dazzle others with its new direction. But, in flashing its cash, it is spending millions on acquiring nothing of any value.

Related: Space between consulting firms and creative agencies is converging.