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The 4 reasons why companies hire independent consultants over big firms

2-minute read

Sam Bromley

26 April 2018

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A recent report has revealed that one fifth of the UK’s annual £10 billion management consulting spend now goes to independent consultants – and that they’re set to the shape the future of the industry.

Independent consultants are often very experienced professionals, who are weary of the bureaucracy seen in traditional consulting firms. They’ve made the decision to strike out solo and take control of their contacts and contracts.

The reasons why independent consultants win contracts

Consultant network Odgers Connect commissioned Source Global Research to survey 250 company executives based in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, to find out how the growth in independent management consultants is affecting the industry.

The results show that 40 per cent of companies now use an even split of traditional consulting firms and independent consultants. And, with the work delivered by these freelancers worth £2 billion, the survey revealed four key reasons why companies are going with them over big firms.

1. Flexibility

48 per cent of top executives said that flexibility is the biggest selling point that independents have over their larger rivals.

This is because the traditional consulting firms often struggle to give their clients the freedom needed to thrive in today’s fast-paced business world.

Companies look for new, innovative approaches to keep up with younger, agile competitors. This is a great fit for independent consultants, as companies look to tap into their skills when needed – without worrying about offering lucrative long-term contracts.

2. Price

With organisations looking to scale back on costs due to heightened competition, 38 per cent of executives said that price was a vital motivator when choosing an independent consultant.

And a separate survey by Comatch actually revealed that 58 per cent of independents are better paid in a freelance capacity than they were while working for a larger firm.

This of course isn’t true for all consultants, and many cite fee pressure as a main concern for the future.

3. Quality

Organisations said that they often see higher quality work from independent consultants. 23 per cent of executives put this reason as the primary motivator when choosing an independent consultant over a big firm.

More people are leaving employers to go it alone (there are now 4.8 million freelancers in the UK). In the case of independent management consultants, many have cut their teeth at the top firms and then decided to strike out on their own.

This means that they have the same skills and experience as the big firms, but added freedom and flexibility lets them focus and specialise in particular areas.

4. Ease and speed

The fourth reason why clients choose independent consultants is the speed and ease with which independent consultants can take up contracts. 20 per cent of executives named this as their top reason.

Because independent consultants are responsible for themselves, they need to work quickly and find contracts to make sure they get paid.

Clients often rely on wide-reaching networks and personal recommendations to find independent consultants, but matching platforms also provide increasingly easy access to top-quality people.

Organisations face continued challenges

As organisations face regulatory challenges – and with Brexit getting ever closer – the work of consultants will continue to be valued.

And if independent consultants can carry on finding (and providing) the edge over larger rivals, their future will be bright.

What’s your opinion of the current consulting landscape? Let us know in the comments below.

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