Short answer…(sorry – only know Fin Svcs)
Solvency 2 implementation (insurance)
Capital Management (all)
Post merger operational improvement (retail and investment banking)
Post merger cost cutting (retail banking in particular)
Y-type Caruso Modelling (investment banking)
Long, boring, erudite, “shut-up and answer the question” answer…
A really interesting area this and one for which, despite significant consideration (often beer-enabled and in the company of some very clever people) I cannot claim to have any easy answers. If I had, I’d be sipping rum punch in Barbados while my butler typed this for me.
Many years ago one of the cleverest marketing guys I’ve ever worked with announced “bottled water – it’s the next big thing”. It was part data analysis and part gut instinct, but he was of course correct. The problem he faced was knowing how to “invest” in his belief. Build a bottle plant, buy a spring, develop a brand? People did each/all of these and some did well and some went bankrupt. Tricky.
Later I worked for a consultancy that really did invent the entire concept of CRM, particularly its application in retail banking. We spent two years impressing every bank in the UK and half the banks in the US with our incredible insight into this. We did win some pretty meaty (£M+) engagements, but the real money was made by the software companies that came behind; turning our vision into screens and code that “productised” our ideas and made them applicable on a grand scale by middle managers.
I guess my point is that you shouldn’t get too hung up on getting into the exact right niche. Their moment in the sun can quite often be very short lived and often it’s the nimble fast followers that make the bigger money. Bottom line is that it is more important to execute well than to identify a unique idea. Executing well usually means drawing on experience, so in effect the area in which you should start your own firm is the area in which you already work, or an area that is directly related to it.
Consider the flip side to this. “Hi, I’ve heard that semi-conductor implementation in oil rigs is about to take off, so I’ve stopped doing process mapping for building societies and I’ll now be doing that instead” Would you hire that firm?