According to Trefis, a respected stock analysis group that contributes to Forbes, Nasdaq.com and host of other publications, clients of consulting firms like Accenture have paid less and less for consulting services since a downward trend in hourly billing rates began in 2008. At the end of 2010, the group says, the hourly rate to hire an Accenture consultant was around $180; well below highs above $200 just a couple of years prior.
The low hourly rate is the result of a steady decline industry-wide that started in 2008 and coincided with the deepening of the global recession and, through it, potential clients' inability to pay top dollar for a service sometimes deemed a luxury expense in tough financial climates. "Due to the economic crisis," Trefis says, "several firms are deferring decision on new work, and extensions on current projects are not coming through at historical rates." This and other factors contribute to palpable "uncertainty" at consultancies like Accenture, which respond by tempting potential clients with lower rates.
While the analysts at Trefis "expect Accenture's bill rates for its management consultants to remain subdued in the near future," staying below the $200 mark through 2012, they suggest that "in the long-term" rates will rebound as companies have more money to spend, driving demand for consulting services upward and costs along with it. By 2016, the analysts wager, billing rates will surpass 2008 levels and hit $220 per hour. That's where the Trefis analysis ends but, if the fun interactive model from the group is to be believed, the positive trend will continue well beyond 2016.
Trefis cites BCG, Bain, McKinsey, Deloitte and a few of the other usual suspects as Accenture competitors who can expect to see similar trends in hourly billing rates. These prestigious, established consulting shops will see rates rebound more quickly than lesser-known competitors, as they enjoy higher demand for their services even in bullish markets.
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Trefis: Accenture's Management Consulting Rate Will Remain Subdued in Short-Term
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