The role of professional services in supporting change In many cases, professional services can support organisations with successfully managing change. Our research examined professional services that support institutions in exploring new ideas; developing concepts and business cases; and designing the structures required to support and sustain change. Leading institutions typically have funding available and the experience to know when to ask for assistance. As a result, larger banks are seen to invest in services across the spectrum. Management consulting services in particular are generally in demand—both for strategic advisory services as well as product- and channel design within the business areas. Given the current strategic focus on core segments, prioritisation of funding is being driven away from efforts to develop products that cannot promise near-term profits. As a result, there is tendency to under-invest in management consulting support to develop business models aimed at entry-level segments.
A surprising finding, perhaps, is the demand for premium strategy consulting services from many mid-tier institutions. This is driven by a need for support in their diversification into new segments as well as what appears to be a momentum effect, where institutions want to ensure they get the same level of advice as the competition. With concrete projects, organisations clearly acknowledge skills gaps to support IT systems and technology development, but tend to under-invest in consulting support for such projects.
As a consequence, sound strategic plans risk not being successfully implemented due to a lack of detailed design, implementation planning and alignment of the supporting organisation. Successfully structuring the support from professional services It is important to understand the link between long-term relationships and individual projects. Leading institutions have a stable demand for external support and typically work with several large consulting firms. Within the consulting firms, this justifies investment in dedicated account management. Senior executives are available to the institutions across specific engagements, and in many cases have the ear of the institution’s executives as trusted advisors. This brings along several benefits to both parties. Mid-tier institutions often procure smaller engagements to be conducted over shorter timeframes. This implies that the consultants are usually not around long enough to fully understand the context and engage with the organisation. As a result, there is a risk that results are not well integrated and that the organisation is not able to drive actions based on recommendations.