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What are International Consulting Firms?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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There are three types of international consulting firms: financial, information technology, and management. The primary purpose of a consulting firm is to provide organizations access to specialists and subject matter experts. These consulting firms have offices in a range of city centers in countries around the world.

Most international consulting firms have been in business for at least 15 years, providing high-quality services in a very specialized area. Establishing an international reputation, customer base, and sufficient staff takes time and is critical to becoming successful in this area. All international consulting firms have the same business model — generating profit through providing access to experts at a higher hourly rate than cost.

In order to become a consultant for an international consulting firm, you will need to have successfully completed a post-secondary education program in a specific field. Almost all consulting firms require a minimum bachelor university degree with an increasing number expecting either a master's of business administration (MBA) or certification in project management. An ability to travel extensively, along with dedication to continuing education and working long hours in required in this industry.

Many large consulting firms expanded through a combination of recruitment and buying smaller management firms. Consultants have two working options: employee or contract worker. An employee is paid a fixed salary regardless of the assignment. Employees have access to health and related benefit plans. Contract workers are paid only when actively working on a project.

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These firms provide expertise to a wide range of firms and businesses, across almost every industry. The role of the consultant is to provide advice and expertise in a specific area to the client. Most consulting firms have a well-developed infrastructure in place, with administrative staff, management, and sales staff.

People who report the greatest satisfaction working in international consulting firms enjoy interacting with people, problem solving, and working as part of a team. Attention to detail, professionalism, dedication, and interpersonal skills are very important in this career. The ability to focus completely on a project, and then leave it at the end of the contract and switch to the next project is essential in this industry.

The profit margins in this industry vary widely, based on the economic climate, length of contract engagements, and administrative structure. The turnover rate for consultants is quite high, due to the intense demands of this career. Keeping overhead costs low is an ongoing issue for international consulting firms, along with managing client relationships.

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Mallory67
Post 4

@FreddieH - In addition to your comment, if a firm was to rely solely on in-house employees, without the specific knowledge base that consultants offer, the process may take longer, as there is greater chance for inefficiency.

This, of course, would also result in a greater depletion of the resources of the firm due to the fact that the employees would be side-tracked from the tasks they were hired to do, and instead are directing their time and energy toward something they may or may not be qualified to deal with.

In short, top consulting firms may be a bit pricey, but they are typically very good at what they do and you shouldn't have to hire them for the same thing twice.

FreddieH
Post 3

@stringbeanz - The feelings you express are not uncommon, but maybe this will help to ease your concerns.

When a company seeks the help of a business consulting firm, it is usually with good reason. While it may appear that they are being overpaid for a job that can be taken care of in-house, the actuality is that they are a receiving a one-time fee with no strings attached. They are not receiving benefits or raises or any of the other perks that would take away from the funds of your company and, essentially, you and your co-workers.

Consultants are highly-trained in a specific area and they would not be where they are if they did not have valuable input to offer your company.

Bertie68
Post 2

I don't think I would last very long working as a consultant for an international consulting firm. It would be especially difficult if you worked on contract - going from one job to the next, even having to go to different cities in the world.

Being required to provide advice and expertise to many different industries in large topic areas, like financial, organization and management must be extremely taxing.

It's, no doubt, a perfect job for certain people, who work well under stress, enjoy working with others, and have enough drive to work long and hard on a project.

stringbeanz
Post 1

From the perspective of a mid-level employee in a non-consulting based company, I'm not sure that it's fair to bring in temporary consultants, with no real loyalty to our company, to make changes that they, themselves, will not be affected by once they leave.

Shouldn't issues be worked out from within the company, by the people who deal with the problems on a daily basis?

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