I would like to hear your views on the impact of the economic downturn on consulting industry ie
1. order books shrinking??? I hear firms whose focus was banking are struggling whereas those who focused on FMCG are thriving
Possibly true as a general trend over the short term past. However having won some project work in the banking sector recently, lets not make the mistake of confusing a trend with an absolute fact. Also if trends are the be all and end all, then its now apparently in the retail and fmcg sector where the recession is predicted to inflict comparatively excessive doom and gloom esp. now (Woolworths) and quite possibly after Christmas.
2. redundancies - rumours or reality
There are always some redundancies even in bullish years. I haven't seen the figures but would guess its tough for graduates getting into consulting, and having graduated into the previous recession myself they have my utmost empathy.
There will always be some rumour mongers who secretly get a kick out of other people getting fired (why do people watch 'The Apprentice?')
3. state of the job market - I hear most firms are not recruiting
The consulting firms that hire talent most at the bottom of the cycle tend to do better when the economy picks up. That was the evidence from the previous recession. If some firms cannot afford to hire then we should feel sorry for them, but question the long term sense of their business model.
4. which firms are resilient? niche or strategy or the big 4?
Niche are probably comparatively resilient. Big firms have lost alot of relevant knowledge in recent years in the consulting domain and some struggle to leverage their exerience across industry and function. Strategy firms are quite/very resilient but there might be some exceptions.
do we have any casualities yet
Poor question. Do you mean firms or people? The consulting sector is actually bearing up well in comparison to the economy as a whole. The industry is not entirely counter cyclical but in some ways its easier to sell advice to a client when they reckon they need it, than in a bull market when they reckon they dont. Genuinely Top Consulting advice can certainly be a necessity for a business to survive rather than just a luxury.