Empowering the Freelance Economy

New study reveals 7 in 10 business consultants to go freelance by 2033

Management consultants are finding several drivers to become freelance over the next decade/ Photo by Daniel Reche
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COMATCH, which has been recently acquired by freelance marketplace Malt, has revealed from a study it conducted, that 7 in 10 business consultants and industry experts will go freelance over the next decade. What’s driving this freelance trend and what does it mean for consultancy firms and graduates?

Consultancy firms could see their highly experienced employee numbers drop over the next decade as more consultants specialise and decide to set up their own practices or join freelance jobs marketplaces, according to a new study.

This development was reported by COMATCH, a Berlin-based management consultancy freelance platform and news site Consultancy UK.

The report found that consultancy professionals who exited the security of life at a firm “did not miss it much”. They have since enjoyed more freedom to self-manage their work-life balance, workload, projects and level of travel. Their income has also improved since going freelance, according to COMATCH.

We do however have to take this stance with a grain of salt. COMATCH is in the business of freelance consultancy recruitment and has just merged with Malt, as reported by The Freelance Informer.

However, it reported that it has witnessed a growing trend in the sector that is seeing consultants get their feet wet in a consultancy firm, build specialist knowledge within a reputable firm and then strike it alone as a freelancer.

Comatch’s most recent poll took input from almost 700 independent management consultants in the UK, Germany and France, and has found that 66% of consultants now believe they will choose to freelance, rather than take up a permanent position, within the next eight-to-10 years, said the Consultancy UK report.

“A 53% majority expect this will have a high impact on Europe’s largest consulting markets – with the war for talent already seeing many long-term vacancies going unfilled across the industry,” said the report.

“Companies that have traditionally worked with big consulting firms understand that they are paying a lot for the brand name — and the bureaucracy,” according to a Consultport article.

“When you work with a big firm, you’ll be billed far more per hour than the person who is actually doing the work will receive. When you make the switch to using freelance consultants, you’re paying for the talent, not the offices and overhead of the firm they are employed by,” said Consultport.

Why is freelancing growing as a career choice?

Dustin Robinson, Marketing and Community Lead for the Netherlands at Malt said, “Freelancing continues to grow as a career choice for the highly-skilled. For instance, Malt has experienced 39% year over year growth in freelance signups.”

Consultancy UK said 68% of consulting firms are looking to invest in up-skilling young consultants more and more in the years to come, and particularly in lines of specialist work. This was highest in sustainability and digital consulting – with 73% and 72% of respondents in the respective sectors agreeing.  

If consulting firms are to continue to attract young talent with their promises of heightened opportunities for learning and development, they will need to adapt their on-boarding programme accordingly. To that end, 84% of respondents agreed they would need to develop more formalised ways to foster learning and development in the next decade.

Comatch reported that HR experts were preparing for this trend, with 94% agreeing it would become a reality in the next eight-to-10 years.

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