Consultants are professionals who have rich experience in their field and a deep understanding of the industry they are in. Based on their expertise, they provide expert opinion, analysis and recommendations to a specific type of client, who may be an individual, an organisation or a group of people, to help them improve their business performance.
Knowing what a consultant does may help you choose a career and determine whether this line of work suits your skills and interests. In this article, we discover the various consultant roles and responsibilities, list the different types of consultants and explore the skills and qualifications you may require to become one.
Different consultant roles and responsibilities
Understanding various consultant roles and responsibilities can help you determine if it is the right career choice for you. Consultants help their clients achieve their business goals by providing expert advice in their field of proficiency. They work with their clients and advise them on matters such as business development, finance, marketing, sales, operations, customer service, accounting and financial planning, among others. Some major responsibilities of a consultant include:
- understand the requirements, issues and needs of the client’s short-term or long-term goal
- conduct interviews and surveys to collect data and analyse it to identify and understand a problem or issue
- present and explain their findings to the management
- advice or suggest improvements to achieve the objectives of the organisation
- formulate plans to implement their recommendations and provide training to the staff to cope with the changes
- evaluate the situation periodically and make changes as and when required
- discover the most suitable solutions for any problem at hand
- help their client’s business become more functional and successful
Types of consultants
The consultancy industry has become one of the most diverse markets within professional services. There has been a sharp rise in the number of specialised consultants as they continue to operate in a wide range of areas. Strategy, management, business, finance, human resources and information technology consulting are some of the specialisations of such professionals. They have expertise in their file of work on which their clients need advice. Here are the different types of consultants, along with a brief profile:
1. Strategy consultant
National average salary: ₹43,183 per month
Primary responsibilities: A strategy consultant creates a plan for the client’s strategic positioning with their top-level executives and high-level managers and prepares a written development and growth plan according to the client’s mission, vision, and initiatives. They advise clients on product placement, price and promotions and give their input on the marketing and product positioning of their products or services and content marketing and brand promotion activities. A strategy consultant participates in the meetings of a client’s marketing, advertising and brand enhancement team and advises them on preparing marketing and advertising materials.
2. Management consultant
National average salary: ₹2,73,911 per year
Primary responsibilities: A management consultant’s job is problem-solving in nature since the market is ever changing. To cope with this changing market scenario, companies need the help of an expert. One of the key responsibilities of a management consultant includes providing expertise to help clients attain efficiency through market changes and help them cope with new technologies and business needs. They analyse the problem deeply, advise the client on the areas of improvement and propose the best possible solution. They also develop a plan to implement the solutions to the problem and present it to the client.
3. Operations consultant
National average salary: ₹5,10,099 per year
Primary responsibilities: Operations consultants provide expert advice on the processes within an organisation, team or project. Their main objective is to reduce the business’s costs, increase its efficiency and effectiveness, and maintain or improve the quality of its products or services. They advise their clients on any significant changes in the business environment, like market fluctuations, managerial changes or high employee turnover. They also help their clients avoid or prepare for such changes. They advise their clients to assess and adjust their internal procedures to enhance the efficiency of their operations and optimise organisational components like procurement and supply chain management.
4. Financial advisory consultant
National average salary: ₹43,183 per month
Primary responsibilities: Financial consultants help guide their clients in making investment decisions, cash management and day-to-day company expenses. They forecast costs and revenues, conduct risk analyses for an organisation’s financial plans, evaluate capital expansion options like funding or loans, and maintain its financial health. They assess their client’s financial status, analyse their investment plans, give advice on selling and buying stocks and bonds, forecast revenues and costs and report any discrepancies. Financial advisory consultants may also analyse market trends, identify risks and opportunities, provide solutions, and set goals to increase the client’s profitability and manage their current and future tax payments.
5. HR consultant
National average salary: ₹18,099 per month
Primary responsibilities: Human resources consultants advise and ensure that the organisation is effectively using its workforce to achieve its goals and is operating at high efficiency. They advise their clients on a wide range of issues involving their human resources. They also formulate company HR policies and procedures and ensure that they comply with applicable laws. They prepare and maintain reports related to their client’s HR projects and assist them in developing and coordinating recommended changes regarding workflow. They may also develop methods for compiling and analysing data for reports and conduct audits of HR activities to ensure compliance.
6. IT consultant
National average salary: ₹4,86,102 per year
Primary responsibilities: IT consultants are mainly responsible for implementing technological solutions to solve business problems. IT consultants communicate instructions and produce technical user manuals for their clients and work with the IT teams to ensure consistency of use. An IT consultant understands a client’s business needs and implements a technological solution to meet those needs. They analyse a company’s IT system and infrastructure and diagnose its system problems, inefficiencies and weaknesses. They also analyse company data and identify security threats, and advise on best technology practices. They also plan a timeline for the completion of projects.
How to become a consultant
Here are the steps you can follow to become a consultant:
1. Complete bachelor’s degree
To become a consultant, the minimum qualification required is a bachelor’s degree in a subject of interest, like marketing, finance, human resource development, information technology or operations. It is an added advantage for candidates with an additional course in education, healthcare, agriculture or e-commerce to gain knowledge and skills pertaining to that sector. Some companies prefer candidates with a master’s degree or an MBA with a specialisation in a specific field.
2. Gain work experience
Most companies prefer employing people who have some work experience in their field. A part-time job or internship in business or project management positions while doing a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree course could give you an advantage as a consultant. People with little or no experience usually start in the junior ranks in an organisation and gradually move to consultancy roles.
3. Earn certifications
Many institutes offer diploma or certificate courses in management consultancy. This diploma or certificate may give you a competitive edge in the recruitment process. They also serve as a testimonial for your training and experience and add to your existing practical knowledge of the field of management consulting. Such certifications may also help improve your employability as a consultant.
4. Build technical and interpersonal skills
To become a successful management consultant, you can gain experience, build technical skills and become an expert in your field of work. Networking and connecting with other consultants in your industry during formal events may allow you to display your skills to potential clients. Depending on your field of work, the technical skills you want to build may differ. As a consultant, you might require to cope with challenging situations and work under pressure. In such times, understanding business environments and having good problem-solving skills can help you immensely.
Once you have gained vast experience and expertise in a specific industry or position, you can start practising independently, become a freelance consultant or even establish a consulting business.
Which are the top 10 consulting firms in the world?
The top consulting firms in the world, based on revenue, are:
- McKinsey & Company: McKinsey is a global management consulting firm specializing in solving complex business problems for major corporations, governments, and non-profit organizations.
- Boston Consulting Group (BCG): BCG is a management consulting firm that focuses on strategy, operations, technology, and organization.
- Bain & Company: Bain is a global management consulting firm that works with clients across all industries to help them achieve their goals by solving complex business problems.
- PwC: PwC is a global professional services network that provides audit, assurance, tax, and consulting services to a wide range of clients.
- Deloitte: Deloitte is a professional services network that offers audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, and tax services to clients in various industries.
- EY: EY is a global professional services organization that provides assurance, tax, transaction, and advisory services to clients across a wide range of industries.
- KPMG: KPMG is a global network of professional services firms that provides audit, tax, and advisory services to a wide range of clients.
- Accenture: Accenture is a global professional services company that provides a wide range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology, and operations.
- A.T. Kearney: A.T. Kearney is a global management consulting firm that focuses on helping organizations with strategic, operational and organizational challenges.
- L.E.K. Consulting: L.E.K. Consulting is a global management consulting firm that helps companies in the areas of strategy, mergers and acquisitions, marketing and sales, and operations.