How bad will it get?

The question on every consultants' lips at the moment is just how badly will a recession affect their business.

The answer comes in three stages.

Cycles and scenarios

Of course it's dangerous to use the past as a guide to the future, but bear with me for a moment.

Buy now, pay later

Another permutation of the sensitivity about prices in the consulting industry at the moment is the rather novel proposal, suggested by some clients, that they’re willing to pay more for a consulting service, but only if they can pay next year. 
 
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Do winter sales apply in consulting too?

Discounting isn’t just confined to the high street. Consulting firms are already cutting their fee rates, even though all the indications are that the consulting industry grew slightly in 2008 and most firms are not in a position where they are desperate for business. Indeed, compared to the last downturn in the consulting industry, firms seem to be offering price cuts at an earlier point in the economic cycle. 

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Uncertain times

A friend of mine is an analyst for an investment bank. In normal circumstances he’d feed a company’s data into his excel spreadsheets and, because his spreadsheets are much more clever than mine, they tell him whether to make a buy, hold or sell call on a particular stock.

Of course ‘normal’ circumstances are hard to come by, so my friend usually has to combine what his spreadsheets tell him with a bit of good old-fashioned market savvy to come up with the answer.

Is the second tier second tier?

Second tier. Middle tier. Neither term is particularly flattering. Both inherently suggest the existence of a first tier or a top tier, which in turn suggest that the distinction between the two tiers is one of quality. And with the ‘third’ tier cornering the ‘specialist’ tag, that one’s out of the question, too. 

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Consulting brands: what's in a name?

 
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E-auctions: do they work with consulting services?

Opinion is, not surprisingly, divided. 

In one corner, we have the procurement manager, keen to exert control over money spent on consultants and frustrated by the variety of different rates, even from a single consulting firm.  In the other, we have the consultant, eager to demonstrate value and apoplectic at the idea that consulting can be treated as a mere commodity.

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