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by Vault Consulting Editors | March 06, 2009


We've had a number of posts on this blog that have focused on rumors of layoffs at various consulting firms. I had assumed that as the economic crisis wore on, consulting firms would be more upfront with whatever internal "restructurings" they were undertaking. I figured they'd see the daily articles and updates on companies in every single other industry announcing massive layoffsand cut-backs, and they'd feel the stigma had been removed from such announcements?and would therefore join the fray (see trends in online dating for a parallel comparison). But like the newlyweds at the Christmas party who continue to deny having met on, consulting firms are putting on a happy-ish face and feigning status quo, rarely releasing a formal press release or even a hint to the media of any such cuts or of what may be going on in their ranks.

(See also the article in today's International Herald Tribune, which addresses the same issue, specifically referring to broad layoffs at IBM that followed the CEO's message (the day prior!) that the company would not be cutting back. As he put it, "Most importantly, we will invest in our people.")

Here at Vault, we find ourselves at the nexus of information flow. Readers tell us what they've heard or what they've seen on the frontlines, but of course companies aren't forthcoming with the information to confirm these testimonies. Google search all you want, folks, but you won't find squat about a rumored BCG or Accenture layoff (I'm discounting blog posts, of course). And don't even try to find anything on McKinsey!

Not wanting to be the stopping point for such information (lest it prove to be true and informative for our readers), but also not wanting to spread such hearsay as fact (though it may be), we've decided to collect these rumors and present them to you, dear readers, to discuss, confirm, deny, debate, etc. To go along with this, we'll offer a not-so-scientific probability rating (from 1-5: 1 being confirmed fact, 5 being ? the opposite of fact) of the perceived validity of each rumor. Information can only attain a rating of 1 if it's been confirmed in the news or by the firm itself.

In homage to the New York Post's legendary landing page for smut, we've named this (probably regular) column Consult THIS: Page Six. (Unlike the Post, though, we don't plan to be dishing on any CEO's recent weight problems?unless we get clear paparazzi shots, of course.)

Without further ado, then, here's our first roundup:

  • A recently laid-off Booz & Co consultant told us this week that she's not the only one: "During the first two weeks of February they cut somewhere around 150-160 people in the US (including me), which I understand to be around 25% of non-partner staff." (source: Vault member email; fact rating: 2)
  • Corporate Executive Board is cutting around a fifth of its research products and services, meaning that layoffs will surely follow. And, according to CEB's Vault message board, those layoffs are already underway. (Source: The Washington Post; various sources at the firm; fact rating: 1.)
  • Accenture layoffs in the New York office. Apparently, there were no takers for the firm's offer of a severance package for voluntary layoffs, so they started cutting. According to a source's email several weeks ago, "I am not sure about the numbers but have heard they are quite a few hundreds/thousand in next coming weeks..." (Source: tip from laid-off employee; fact rating: 3)
  • Monitorpushes back start dates for new associates (source: B-school almost-grad; fact rating: 2)
  • Two reports of layoffs at Deloitte: Layoffs throughout the month of January (source: email via unknown source; fact rating: 4); and confirmation that lawyers at the firm when bye-bye. But what about the consultants? (source: Above the Law); fact rating: 2)
  • McKinsey, Bain and BCG have cut and/or delayed partner bonuses in the face of the recession. (Source: The Times Online; fact rating: 1). This being a UK-focused news source, the question is, is this true for these consulting giants globally? Or is this just a British thing?

So let the information sharing begin! Let us know what you've heard/experienced so we can rip off the veil and get at the real, unvarnished truth of what's going on in the consulting industry.


Filed Under: Consulting

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