The county’s largest management consultants combined to hold steady on employment in the past 12 months after more than two years of shedding jobs.
The 19 largest consultancies saw employment rise 1% to 914 jobs here. The uptick came as the industry appeared to begin recovering after a drought that produced few new projects, according to this week’s Business Journal list.
The management consultant companies on last year’s list combined for a dip of nearly 6% in local employment amid a slow return of corporate spending on their services.
Last year’s decline reflected a big hit to local employment that came when McLean, Va.-based BearingPoint Inc. declared bankruptcy and was sold off in chunks to Deloitte LLP and PricewaterhouseCoopers In-ternational. BearingPoint had employed some 260 workers in Costa Mesa.
The list ranks management consultants that are headquartered here and others with local operations. They do work that runs the gamut from accounting, acquisitions, compliance, auditing and human resources to technology outsourcing and advising on restructurings.
Five companies on this year’s list added employees, while two shed workers. Five companies were flat on hiring and seven were Business Journal estimates.
Irvine-based Resources Con-nection Inc.’s Resources Global Professionals maintained the top spot on this year’s list. The company added four positions to 199 people, up 2% from a year earlier.
Resources Global, which has offices in Irvine and Costa Mesa, provides the services of accountants, lawyers and others on a contract basis. It also helps companies with compliance, audits, financial planning and organizational development.
Accenture—which has its on-the-books headquarters in tax-friendly Dublin, Ireland, and runs an office in Newport Beach—leapfrogged Hitachi Consulting Corp. to nab the No. 2 ranking.
Local hiring at Accenture was flat in the past 12 months with 105 people.
That was enough to surpass Hitachi Consulting, a Dallas-based unit of Japan’s Hitachi Ltd.
Hitachi Consulting shed 18 employees to 102 staffers, a 15% decline from a year ago and the biggest percentage drop of any company on the list.
It was the second straight year of substantial cuts.
Last year Hitachi reduced its local staff in Irvine by 16% amid a reorganization into four business units: technology solutions, management consulting, managed services and a new green practice.
The green practice aims to help companies cut costs and operate in a more environmentally sustainable way, Michelle Meisels, senior vice president of the Southern California region, told the Business Journal in an earlier interview.
No. 4 Costa Mesa-based Profit Recovery Partners LLC added three employees for a total of 78, up 4% from a year earlier.
Profit Recovery caters to the financial services, legal, and private equity industries.
It has increased revenue in the past year as clients look for more and better ways to be cost efficient.
“People are taking cost reduction seriously,” President Donald Steiner said. “There is an increased demand for pay-for-performance and verification of savings versus hourly rates.”
No. 5 Chicago-based Acquity Group LLC moved up two spots on the list after seeing the biggest employment swing, making 17 hires for a total of 62 workers. The 38% jump was by far the biggest on the list.
The company led an expansion in the West late last year, opening offices in San Francisco and Seattle, and a development center in Boise.
“While we’ve hired even more aggressively in our new markets, we’ve hired in Orange County to support work here and elsewhere up and down the coast,” said Acquity Senior Vice President Andy Peebler. “We’re actively hiring for nearly all roles now and really don’t see the forecast trending down anytime soon.”
Acquity, which has local offices in Irvine, helps companies run better websites and boost their online stores. It has customers in manufacturing, consumer products, retail and other areas and competes with Google Inc. and other big names in advertising and consulting.
No. 7 Los Angeles-based Goetzman Group, which has an office in Irvine, focuses on accounting and finance. Goetzman has about 55 workers here, flat from a year ago. Its consultants are full-time but do short-term stints as controllers, accountants, analysts and other finance roles.
“We’re certainly doing much better than 24 months ago,” said Al Coronado, Goetzman’s business development manager. “We’re a boutique so we don’t need to hire a certain number of accountants or consultants every year.”
No. 12 San Juan Capistrano-based Devel-opment Planning & Financing Group Inc. held its spot on the list amid flat hiring. The firm caters to land developers and home builders and provides property tax appeal services, fiscal impact studies and helps establish specialty taxing districts.
Stalled projects and tough financing continue to put a strain on the real estate sector, but there are some bright spots, according to Peter Piller, who manages the company’s Orange County market.
Class A Hopes
Class A buildings, the high-end of the market, are showing signs of stabilizing and that could trickle down to other segments (see related story, page 1).
“If Class A improves, at some point it will spill over to the next market,” Piller said. “I don’t think we’re going to see many changes the remainder of the year.”