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Management consultants will make a lot of money out of Brexit — but some are worried

LONDON — Management consultants expect to “make hay” from Brexit, according to a new report, as companies turn to external experts to help them cope with the change.

A report from Source Global Research released on Monday found that the management consultant industry in Britain grew by 7.5% in 2016 to hit a value of £7.3 billion.

The report says that while Brexit makes it difficult to predict how the industry will fare in 2017, Source expects “a good year on the whole” thanks to trends such as artificial intelligence (AI).

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Brexit is also likely to provide a boost to business for many consultants, particularly those in areas such as financial services and areas involving international trade such as retail. An anonymous source is quoted in the Source Global report as saying: “The Big Four will make hay out of Brexit, because of the number of trade agreements that will have to be negotiated,” according to the Financial Times.

The “Big Four” are Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PwC. Traditionally all four were accountants but they have all made big pushes into the field of consultancy and today account for around 40% of the market.

The “Big Four” have all tooled up for an expected Brexit boom by establishing new departments. KPMG, for example, appointed a “Head of Brexit” less than two weeks after last June’s referendum.

As well as corporate business, the “Big Four” are likely to see a spike in public contracts as the government calls in extra staff to deal with Brexit negotiations and trade deals. Deloitte has already memorably run into trouble in its haste to win business after a memo it wrote on the topic for Downing Street was leaked to the press.

However, while some areas of consultancy will likely benefit from Brexit uncertainty — with clients turning to them for guidance on everything from where to base their new EU headquarters to trade policy — there are some concerns that other parts of the industry will feel a pinch from Brexit.

An industry source BI spoke to said there is concern that the momentousness of Brexit, combined with its uncertainty and long time frame, means major companies will put more traditional consultancy projects on hold, leading to a slow down for any consultant not involved in a Brexit project.

The Source Global report notes that last June’s Brexit vote “put the consulting market on pause,” as companies reassessed their priorities.

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