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Can consulting break its Faustian pact with financial services?

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Manchester: Two intractable problems were gnawed at again at the official launch of the MCA's 2012 Industry Report in London last week.

First up was UK consulting's Faustian pact with the financial services industry.

The report shows that 40% of consulting's private sector fee income was derived from financial services. The consensus of the meeting (held with grim irony in what used to be the Bank of Ireland's emergency response centre) was that, of course, such dependence was unhealthy, and, yes, the addict's portfolio must be "re-balanced".

But there was whiff of St Augustine in the air — "Lord, make me virtuous, but not yet."

The fact is surely that there is little chance of consulting booking itself into rehab any time soon — certainly not whilst financial services instability, and big regulatory changes, promise an endless supply of project fixes.

The second conundrum — how to get the industry's message across to government, policy makers and the wider public, that its value to the economy far exceeds its £9 billion worth — is one that the MCA has grappled with manfully for years.

There really is no alternative to plugging away with it, bending every government ear that will listen.

And there is a positive message to spread.

Not just that consulting has recovered from recession a lot quicker than the rest of the economy, but as we have been able to illustrate on these pages in recent weeks, the MCA has a catalogue of concrete evidence, gathered for its 2012 Awards, of innovative, creative consulting helping clients in every sector change for the better.

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