Consultancy survey shows size isn’t everything and better qualifications don’t mean better pay

The 2004 and Environment Business magazine survey of environmental consultants is still in progress until the end of the month. The response has been so good, with over a thousand respondents in the first day, that we couldn't resist taking a peek and sharing some of the results with you.

The findings below reflect the 1,741 responses received as of Monday 16 August. More precisely, they reflect the 1,002 responses from consultancy providers and consultancy purchasers. Over 60% of respondents are senior consultants, senior management, or company directors. 83% are edie users and 57% are readers of Environment Business. Unlike previous surveys, we have invited everyone involved in the provision or purchasing of consultancy services to take part rather than just getting one "official" response from each company. We think this adds value by presenting what people really think rather than just the official line.

Bucking recent trends, most consultants expect to see more growth in private than public sector work and CSR came in last of our 7 potential growth markets. Waste management was seen as the single biggest growth market, with nearly 70% of respondents placing this in their top four 'most important' categories. Unsurprising perhaps, given the recent restrictions on landfill and new packaging rules across Europe.

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How to choose a consultant

We asked consultants, and then their clients, which factors, of a list including price, reputation, advertising, and proximity of local office, they thought contributed most to decision making when choosing a consultant.

Reputation was the prime reason for both consultants and clients, followed closely by the specialised capabilities of that consultancy. Personal recommendation was the second highest reason for choosing consultancies from a client point of view, and tied in with the importance placed on after-care by the consultants.
Interestingly, all but two of the factors were rated higher in importance by consultants than by their customers - the exceptions being mainstream media coverage and price!

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Who has the best reputation?
So we took the 36 firms who turned over more than £1m in FY April 02-March 03 (according to the Environment Business survey, 2003 - apologies to Arup and anyone else who wasn't in that) and asked who has the best reputation. The Top 5 according to customers were: Entec UK, Enviros Consulting, Atkins, ENVIRON UK and ERM.

When you compare reputation to turnover, it is evident that some firms are punching well above their weight. Environ UK, for example, are one fifteenth the size of the largest firm in the industry but score significantly higher on reputation.

It is clear that environmental consultancy is a friendly and co-operative industry, as all but nine of these firms were rated higher by their peers than by the customers. It also looks we could all learn a lot from firms like Entec UK, and Enviros Consulting, and White Young Green, who were all rated significantly higher by customers than by consultants.

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Sizing up
In December 2003, Environment Business published a league table of consultancies declared turnover in the environment sector. We asked people who they thought had the highest turnover. Clients were firmly of the opinion that Entec UK did the most business, followed closely by Atkins. Other consultants, however, put Atkins at the top, followed by ERM, Environ UK, Enviros, and put Entec fifth.


ranking Declared in EB 2003 Perception by customers Perception by consultants
1 RPS Group Entec UK Atkins
2 Atkins Atkins ERM
3 ERM Enviros Consulting ENVIRON UK
4 Entec UK ENVIRON UK Enviros Consulting
5 WSP ERM Entec UK
6 Casella Consulting RPS Group URS Corporation
7 Babtie Group Babtie Group WSP
8 Enviros Consulting Casella Consulting RPS Group
9 Mott McDonald Group White Young Green Babtie Group
10 White Young Green Mott McDonald Group Arthur D Little
11 Symonds Group WSP Casella Consulting
12 Haswell Consulting Engineers Faber Maunsell Applied Environmental Research Centre
13 RSK ENSR Group URS Corporation Mott McDonald Group
14 ENVIRON UK Hyder Consulting White Young Green
15 Parsons Brinckerhoff Arthur D Little Golder Associates
16 Arthur D Little Golder Associates Hyder Consulting
17 Waterman Applied Environmental Research Centre WRc
18 Golder Associate Environmental Technology Consultants Carl Bro
19 Faber Maunsell Parsons Brinckerhoff Environmental Technology Consultants
20 WRc WRc Faber Maunsell
21 Carl Bro Carl Bro Parsons Brinckerhoff
22 Joynes Pikes & Associates RSK ENSR Group Corsair Environmental Consultants
23 CPM Symonds Group Environmental Simulations International
24 Terence O'Rourke EDGE Consultants UK RSK ENSR Group
25 Hyder Consulting Environmental Simulations International EDGE Consultants UK
26 Weeks Consulting ERT (Scotland) Waterman
27 Environmental Technology Waterman Terraconsult Consultants
28 Southern Testing Laboratories Corsair Environmental Consultants Terence O'Rourke
29 Corsair Environmental Consultants Terence O'Rourke Southern Testing Laboratories
30 Environmental Simulations International Southern Testing Laboratories CPM
31 EDGE Consultants UK Terraconsult ERT (Scotland)
32 Applied Environmental Research Centre Joynes Pikes & Associates Symonds Group
33 Terraconsult CPM Haswell Consulting Engineers
34 Quintessa Weeks Consulting Joynes Pikes & Associates
35 ERT (Scotland) Haswell Consulting Engineers Weeks Consulting
36 Quintessa Quintessa

Do you know who I am?
Apparently not, in many cases. Taking the same 36 firms we asked people which firms they were aware operated in the environmental sector.

Atkins had the highest recognition factor, with 60% of consultants and 57.2% of customers knowing they are active in this sector. Entec UK had the second highest recognition among customers with 56.4%, followed by ENVIRON UK with 53.8%. The same two companies were listed by the consultants but with ENVIRON UK coming second, and Entec UK coming third. In both lists Enviros and ERM came a close fourth and fifth behind the others.

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How do people source consultancies
Both consultants and customers agree that industry websites are essential for sourcing consultants. Customers actually said they used industry magazines slightly more - putting them in the number one slot - while consultants themselves put magazines in third place. There was a pretty clear consensus that Yellow Pages and other paper directories are rarely used these days.

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Show me the money!
If you are a consultant or would like to be, the million dollar question is: "How much should I be earning?" The tables below should go some way towards answering this, though we plan to do some more detailed analysis and cross referencing to produce more useful answers.
One thing, however, is clear. If you are planning on doing a PhD in order to increase your earnings, you should think again. You might get a pay rise when you publish your thesis, but from a financial point of view those years of your life would be more profitably invested in gaining work experience. Only 18% of those earning over £60K/year have a PhD or equivalent qualification.

Rows How much do you earn before tax? Total including benefits & bonus
Columns What academic qualifications/titles do you hold MSc or equivalent

Rows How much do you earn before tax? Total including benefits & bonus
Columns How many years relevant work experience do you have?

Rows How much do you earn before tax? Total including benefits & bonus
Columns What is your job position

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| opinion | packaging | planning | Scotland


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