Shifting Client Demand and Expertise in Global Business Advisory Services

September 3, 2009
Faculty Lead: Elizabeth Thurston

Recently touted as the hot segment of the global consulting industry, with an estimated $85 billion in 2008 revenues and previously projected 8% growth rate, business advisory services (BAS) once benefited from clients’ diverse financial and business consulting needs related to the complexity of competing in global markets, opportunities in emerging economies, abundant private equity and M&A deals, expanding litigation activity, keener corporate focus on minimizing risk, and increasingly challenging regulatory and compliance issues. In 2009, the breadth of the global economic crisis across industries fueled a dramatic slowdown in overall consulting demand across most geographies, creating what Kennedy Information notes as the most challenging business environment that consulting has witnessed in the last 20-30 years. Not surprisingly, most consulting segments, including strategy, operations, and IT, contracted substantially in 2009. Yet, BAS, although no longer the significant industry driver that it was, still remains at the forefront of the consulting marketplace, with a revised 1% growth rate.

Within this context, “Shifting Client Demand and Expertise in Global Business Advisory Services” explored the recent changes in both private- and public-sector BAS demand, the global economic and regulatory changes influencing client demand, how BAS firms are repositioning to deliver services that capture that demand, the expertise required for those services, and what this means for BAS skill development and recruiting. Business advisory professionals from Alix Partners, Booz Allen Hamilton, FTI Consulting, Navigant Consulting, Oliver Wyman, and PricewaterhouseCoopers shared their perspectives on these topics.

Clint Bowes (McIntire '84), Audit Partner, Ernst & Young LLP
Bryan Eshelman (Engineering '93), Managing Director, AlixPartners
Jeff Green (McIntire '88), Vice President, Navigant Consulting Inc.
Jimmy Henry (McIntire '73), Senior Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton