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Sustainability consulting firms assessed.


London: To succeed in the sustainability consulting market, practice leaders need to learn from the seven secrets of today's market leaders according to a new report from independent analyst firm Verdantix.

The study benchmarks fourteen sustainability consulting firms active in the UK market: the Big Four financial audit firms Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC, management consultants such as Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey and specialist energy and environment consultants like ERM and WSP Environment & Energy who deliver projects for C-level executives.

"Our analysis of the UK sustainability consulting market sheds light on cutting-edge developments in service delivery and strategic innovation" commented the author of the report and Verdantix Industry Analyst, Ray Crowley. "Consultants in the UK need to inspire and engage executives at firms such as BT, Tesco and Unilever who already have sophisticated frameworks for managing risks and opportunities associated with energy, environment and social impacts. Only a handful of firms — Deloitte and PwC being the most prominent — have delivered broad, holistic, transformational engagements that help clients to execute a corporate-wide sustainability vision."

The Verdantix report, "Green Quadrant Sustainability Business Consulting 2011", assesses the fourteen consulting firms on seven service offerings: strategy development, responsible supply chain, sustainable business growth strategies, reporting and compliance, carbon markets, change management and sustainability-related due diligence. The secrets of success identified in the study are

  • Breadth of service offerings.
  • Delivery of high profile projects.
  • Transparency on sustainability performance.
  • Longevity in the sustainability market.
  • Depth of expertise in each domain.
  • Investments in brand awareness.
  • Long-term vision for energy and environmental trends.

Due to their prior commitment to sustainability assurance, their large pool of professionals and also their own investment in sustainability performance, the Big Four audit firms -- Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC -- are positioned in the Leaders Quadrant. Our research with buyers of consulting services found that PwC had the highest brand awareness as a provider of sustainability business consulting services. Accenture and McKinsey had the second and third highest levels of brand awareness for sustainability consulting respectively. The study also identified Accenture, ARUP and WSP Environment & Energy as consulting firms with strong specialist expertise as well as a significant level of positive market momentum.

"Consulting firms in the UK not only need the expertise to advise their clients on sustainability challenges, they also need to 'walk the talk' themselves, by making substantial investments in their own sustainability programmes" commented Verdantix Director Rodolphe d'Arjuzon. "Eighty-seven per cent of the buyers of consulting services we interviewed said that it is important for consultants to achieve a high level of internal sustainability performance. In this market only expertise and cost are considered more important than a consulting firm's ability to demonstrate their own commitments. We believe this purchase criterion will strengthen in the next 2 years."

The full study is here.

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