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Consulting practice thrives at new home

IAIN Gerrard and Mike McNulty may have a new name on their business cards but in many respects their working lives have been unaffected by the collapse of Andersen.

Their 36-strong business consulting practice joined rival accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu's management solutions practice on April 22.

Several months later, Andersen's business consulting practices in the UK and many European countries also joined Deloitte's management solutions practice, providing the firm with a significant boost.

“It has turned out better than we could have expected,” Mr McNulty said.

"Deloitte have been very supportive. We didn’t lose any staff despite the uncertainty. And we thought clients may defect, but none of them did so."

The beauty of the business consulting merger was that the Andersen team filled a gap in Deloitte’s services in Perth.

Deloitte managing partner Keith Jones said the group had previously tried without success to build a Perth consulting practice in-house.

The opportunity to bring the Andersen team into Deloitte provided a solution for the group.

"The reasons we joined Deloitte have been completely vindicated by what has happened since then," Mr Gerrard said.

He sees Deloitte’s status as the only global accounting firm with a fully-fledged, integrated consulting practice as a major competitive advantage.

Ernst & Young sold its global consulting practice to France’s Cap Gemini, KPMG’s consulting business was corporatised and now trades as BearingPoint, and PricewaterhouseCoopers sold its consulting arm to IBM last year.

Mr Gerrard noted that none of these groups has a permanent presence in Perth.

Nor does global consulting group Accenture, which was originally known as Andersen Consulting before changing its name and splitting from Andersen Worldwide in 1999.

Deloitte also had considered hiving off its specialist technology consulting arm, which trades as Deloitte Consulting and is separate from the management solutions practice.

However, Deloitte announced in late March that it would not proceed with the partner buy-out, citing the tight credit market and the uncertain state of the economy.

In light of this strategic reversal, the group is now assessing how to position itself.

Mr Gerrard believes the management solutions practice remains well placed, particularly in a parochial market such as Western Australia where many companies prefer to work with consultants that have a permanent presence.

Its work is split between technology driven projects in areas such as information systems, e-business and customer relationship management, and broader management and business process re-engineering assignments.

Wesfarmers, BankWest, Australian Finance Group, Clough, Burswood, the Health Department and Western Power are among its WA client list.

Its latest win was a 12-month contract to assist the State Government's Functional Review Task Force review of corporate services and procurement across State government agencies.

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