Are Niche Consultancies a Dying Breed?

dying-breedThe recent acquisition of InvestTech by Accenture means there is one less niche consulting company available to the investment management industry.  This follows Accenture’s acquisition of Beacon Consulting Group in December 2015, as well as Nomura Research Institute’s acquisition of Cutter Associates in June 2016.  Is this consolidation trend a good thing for the investment management industry?  I will argue that the answer is a definite no.

Forward-thinkers value balanced, independent thought and analysis.  This issue has never been more prevalent than in our current political climate, where facts seem to play second fiddle to spin.  As I switch between CNN and Fox News, I find it difficult to believe that the reporters are covering the same topic.  Where do we go to find balanced, independent analysis?

The consolidation of consulting services in the investment management industry takes us in the same direction.  When we lose niche players, we lose the voices that challenge the status quo.  One of the primary reasons that asset managers employ boutique consultancies is to ensure that they receive independent advice, a wide breadth of options, and alternatives that are different to the one-size-fits-all methodology. 

I have been both a client and a consultant in the investment management industry.  As a client, I was very careful to balance input and advice from the vendors, service providers, and their partners against input from independent consultants.  This is what makes industry-focused niche consultancies attractive to the asset management industry.  Consolidation of these companies under one of the big consultancies removes that advantage.

There has never been a more important time for independent perspectives and analysis outside of the mainstream polarized streams of thought (both in politics and in business).   While boutique consultancies may be dwindling in number, I am proud to work for one of the few and strongest in our industry.