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Wednesday, Jun 19, 2024
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Management Consultant Gains Slow As Biggest Shrink

The pace of employment growth at Orange County’s top management consulting firms slowed over the past year, driven primarily by job cuts at the biggest.

The 27 firms on this week’s Business Journal list combined for a 0.9% uptick in their local employee bases to 1,551, while their firmwide numbers increased by 10% to about 368,700.

Management consultants have been adding jobs here in spurts in the years following the recession, including a 25% jump last year and previous annual gains of 5% and 11%.

The consulting sector’s nearly 1% gain is in line with its pace of growth between mid-2010 and mid-2011, when our list showed that firms were holding steady with a small increase after coming off several years of job cuts.

• Accenture PLC, which kept its No. 1 spot, cut its OC workforce this year by 75, or 20%, to 295, which offset most of the gain notched by other firms. The OC total, discounting Accenture, would have come to an increase of nearly 8%.

Accenture rose to the top of the list last year when its OC numbers reflected the year-earlier acquisition of Chicago-based Acquity Group LLC that added about 70 local employees.

The Dublin, Ireland-based multinational conglomerate continues to be the biggest by far when counting firmwide jobs, with 323,000 employees, up 10%.

Four other firms on the list said they cut jobs in their OC offices over the year, and 14 firms said they made net hires. Five had no changes year-over-year, and numbers for three firms were unchanged based on Business Journal estimates.

• Resources Connection Inc. stayed at No. 2 with 225 in its OC office, up by 14. The Irvine-based company has about 70 offices globally and employs about 3,388, up 11% year-over-year.

• Brea-based Solugenix Corp. was No. 4, with 122 workers here, up 47%, or 39, the biggest raw-number increase on the list. It has 15 other employees among its offices in Arizona, Tennessee and Illinois.

The two other newcomers on the list are Villa Park-based Blue Skies LLC, No. 17, with 19 employees here; and Matisia Consultants, No. 20, with 15 local employees, up by five.

Seattle-based Matisia established its OC operations in January 2013 and is on a fast local growth track, according to Chief Executive Kristina Roth, who founded the firm in 2006 and splits her time between headquarters and its OC office.

“Orange County is a sophisticated market in terms of buyers of consultancy services, [and] Matisia saw the opportunity to partner with very innovative mid- and large-sized companies,” Roth said of the opportunity in the local market. “Clients are smart, tech-savvy, and are looking for a more curated and tailored consulting experience. Clients understand that, in order to achieve the next level of success, they need to invest in people, process and technology.

• No. 6, Towers Watson & Co., increased its OC workforce by 3% to 64. The New York-based global firm has 16,000 employees, up by 14%.

“It has been a growth year, thanks to growths in a number of practice areas,” Managing Consultant Michael Fox said, pointing to strong business in retirement consulting and talent management in particular.

Fox said another strength has been health consulting, which has it working with companies in their healthcare benefits and private exchanges.

“The Affordable Care Act still [provides] opportunities … and we plan on bringing additional staff in the health practice,” he said. “I see the healthcare side and talent management aspect being the lead going forward.”

• Irvine-based Blythe Global Advisors LLC grew its local base by 14% to 40, good for the No. 10 spot. Founder and President Marc Blythe said continued referrals from auditors and strong mergers-and-acquisitions activity nationwide have been key drivers fueling business growth.

Blythe, a former audit partner at Ernst & Young, said that over the years, regulations that define what auditors can do and that apply to companies have “become more complex and more difficult,” creating “this big gap between the things companies need help with and the firms who are able to help” the businesses.

“That’s the reason I started this firm about six years ago,” he said. “90% of the business we get is referred by audit partners. That’s the main thing that’s helping us grow. … And the other is there’s just been a lot of transactions going on in the last year, and I can see it continuing in the future as companies are getting sold, new businesses are forming, and companies are shedding noncore businesses. We’re helping a lot of these companies prepare for those transactions.”

Blythe said that accounting rule changes, such as a new revenue recognition standard and changes involving corporate office leases, are expected to affect many businesses and serve as a boost to the firm.

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