Chartered status key to future of UK consulting

02 February 2022 4 min. read
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With a new system of certification having been launched for the consulting sector last year, leaders across the UK’s advisory industry believe chartered status is key for the future of the trade. A new survey among top firms has found that three-quarters of consulting leaders stressed its importance to the industry, emphasising the need to retain talent in a competitive and growing market and the need to bring new skills to meet clients’ needs. 

For decades, one of the major criticisms of the UK’s consulting industry was that compared to other professional services like accounting or legal work, it lacked standardisation. Theoretically, anyone could call themselves a consultant, and there was no system of certification to distinguish between them and the genuine experts of the industry.

In recent years, the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) has partnered with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) to remedy this. Since launching its new professional accreditation, the Chartered Management Consultant Award (ChMC), demand has gone from strength to strength. During a 2020 pilot 250 professionals obtained chartered status, and that figure more than doubled in 2021.

Chartered status key to future of UK consulting

As the new award gathers momentum, the CMI and MCA confirmed they were on the way to guiding a further 1,519 consultants through the journey to become Chartered, as of September. At the same time, 16 MCA member firms were accredited, with a total of 40 MCA members ready to engage. Looking ahead, this engagement looks likely to increase exponentially.

The 2022 MCA Member Survey has found that a growing number of consultants believe they will pursue charteredstatus. A majority of 73% of MCA leaders believe that chartered is very important or important to the industry’s future, while the responses also showed an uplift in the number of consultants who believe that there is more demand for training and skills development as firms adapt their training and onboarding due to hybrid working. This climbed up from 21% to 32% last year. When young consultants were surveyed, they also indicated increasing demand for continued professional development would be one of the main challenges affecting the industry in coming months. 

Tamzen Isacsson, Chief Executive of the MCA, noted,“These figures show being chartered is becoming embedded in the consultancy of today as the industry strives to meet the needs of tomorrow. Less than a year since its official launch, the vast majority of leaders recognise the importance of the ChMC and the number of people saying they are going to pursue chartered is growing. Overall, the survey stresses the challenge of retaining talent within firms and Chartered is a way of doing so. This is industry is laser focused on hiring the most talented young people in the country and importantly finding new talent from a variety of backgrounds and chartered has a vital part to play in that movement.” 

The pandemic seems to have also boosted demand for chartered status, and training more generally, meanwhile. Around 59% of consultants told the MCA they received the same amount of training or more training than before Covid-19. This is important for consulting firms, as training is an important driver of job satisfaction in the sector. A large minority of 39% of consulting firms already acknowledged that training was in their top three suggestions for attracting and retaining the best talent, while having an independent quality assurance such as ChMC assists firms to achieve this.

Ann Francke OBE, Chief Executive of the CMI, stated, "The management consulting sector plays a key role in the UK's economy. Chartered status helps maintain and underpin that position, benefiting students and raising standards across the industry… It also plays a vital role for consulting businesses in helping attract and retain the best talent in the market. The survey results show just how importantly consultants take their training and career development and it's great to see the phenomenal uptake of chartered status throughout the industry just one year since it was launched.”