ward howell

Key Industry Trends

Rapidly accelerating technologies are causing significant disruption. The information revolution makes expertise directly available to clients, who are becoming more sophisticated and demanding higher value-added services. Many services have been automated, causing them to become commodities.
As the sector has grown, so has competition. This historic model of long term client relationships has changed as firms have shifted from local to national and national to global platforms. Firm assignments which before might have been obtained through personal relationships are now often won through sophisticated marketing campaigns and dedicated sales resources.
Client relationships have been shifting toward project-based assignments from retainer relationships. Clients are looking to solve complex problems that require coordinating multiple disciplines. Also, larger firms are assembling teams of specialized subcontractors to deliver complex projects. The implication for smaller firms is to market to the larger firms as well as to clients directly.
The average size of professional service firms has been growing due to consolidation. Local firms are expanding to national and even global platforms to serve major clients, and “mega firms” with tens of thousands of professionals are emerging.
Clients are increasingly looking for multi-service firms to deliver complex projects. As client expectations rise, firms that can deliver integrated solutions are leading many engagements.
Like software applications, business processes are swiftly becoming modular — broken into small elements that can be combined and recombined as needed.
Professional services organizations are shifting from the partnership model to complex corporate structures. This not only has legal and financial implications, but also affects organizational culture.

Talent Opportunities and Challenges

Organizations based on human capital must have a human resource strategy at the core of their business strategy to navigate the changes the sector is facing.
They must have a clear vision of the role they will play in the market — technical resource, client relationship leader, project leader of subcontractors, market leader — and plan their talent acquisition, development, and retention accordingly.

Professionals’ expectations and objectives are changing with the market. Some want to be independent contractors with little long-term attachment to any organization, while others seek a traditional long-term partner relationship.

The ability to articulate the role the company will play in the evolving market and to identify the professionals who best align with that strategy is critical. At Ward Howell, we help our clients identify and recruit professionals who not only have requisite technical skills, but who also match the firm’s strategy and cultural goals.

Areas of Expertise

  • Strategy Consulting
  • Legal
  • Technology Services

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