Car owners know that diagnostic ability is important but value is only achieved when the car is fixed and guaranteed. The same goes for professional services firms.

The market for mechanics that expertly diagnose problems with your vehicle and then leave it to you to fix it yourself just hasn’t taken off. There’s an understanding among car and fleet owners that diagnostic ability is important, but value is only achieved when the car is fixed, guaranteed and any problems are followed up.

Clients expect large professional services firms to deliver them true value, and trusted consulting brands are built on the delivery of this. I am seeing a progressive change in clients’ expectations. Similar to the expectations corporate fleet managers have of their service suppliers, CEOs and CFOs are starting to demand full value from an integrated business performance consultant. Consultants must not only recommend changes but understand the business assets sufficiently to implement change and deliver the savings. In the same way I don’t have the time or skill to fix my car, many organisations no longer have the internal capacity to implement even the clearest recommendations.

To fill this growing market, professional services firms who have their origins in engineering design and consulting are expanding to provide services that cover the full asset lifecycle - from feasibility right through capital expenditure to operations and replacement. They know ’how things work‘ and can mix this seamlessly with financial modelling and analysis of business performance.

The purchase of URS by AECOM has seen the formation of a large integrated professional services firm of almost 100,000 employees – are we seeing now the 'Big 5'?

While we may see the decline of the 'Big 4' accounting firms as the integrated engineering and management consultants expand their brands and market share, it more likely that we’ll see them adjust to be part of what I am calling the 'New 12'.

With AECOM's nearest rival now being much smaller, I expect to see accelerated consolidation driven by successful consultancies such as Aurecon to create firms with over $10 billion of annual revenues. This ‘New12’ will provide full value to clients which translates into real cost savings. Giam Swiegers, the new Group CEO of Aurecon, has said he will "Grow the company even further around and beyond its excellent core design and engineering business."

For firms such as Beca who are already expanding their integrated offering in the prosperous Asia-Pacific region, the next five years will be transformational.tthew Ensor
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Matt Ensor

Business Director - Advisory Services

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